High Anxiety


High Anxiety

Critics Consensus

Uneven but hilarious when it hits, this spoof of Hitchcock movies is a minor classic in the Mel Brooks canon.



Total Count: 29


Audience Score

User Ratings: 15,254
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Movie Info

This is Mel Brooks' spoof of over ten Alfred Hitchcock classics, including Psycho, Vertigo, and The Birds (Brooks actually used the bird trainer from that classic suspense movie in making his film). Brooks plays Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, a renowned Harvard psychiatrist with a concealed fear of heights, or High Anxiety. Thorndyke takes over as the newest director of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous after the last director dies under suspicious circumstances. He soon finds himself to be in the company of some very strange colleagues, including longtime Brooks collaborators Cloris Leachman and Harvey Korman, with Madeline Kahn as Victoria Brisbane, the eccentric daughter of a patient at the institute and Thorndyke's love interest. Korman takes on the role of Dr. Charles Montague, a psychiatrist with a closeted habit of his own. Leachman plays Charlotte Diesel, a charge nurse with a dark sneer and tendency towards domination. As Thorndyke heads to a psychiatry conference, he is faced with saving the Institute, his reputation, and his own sanity. Although the film was not well-received by critics, it picked up a 1978 Golden Globe nomination for best picture (musical or comedy) and landed Brooks a nomination for best actor. The movie has a number of cameos, from a young Barry Levinson's spot as an unstable bellboy to a small part by Hitchcock's right-hand special effects man, Albert J. Whitlock, who plays Kahn's father. ~ Rachel Koetje, Rovi


Mel Brooks
as Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke
Madeline Kahn
as Victoria Brisbane
Cloris Leachman
as Nurse Diesel
Harvey Korman
as Dr. Charles Montague
Ron Carey
as Brophy
Howard Morris
as Prof. Lilloman
Dick Van Patten
as Dr. Wentworth
Jack Riley
as Desk Clerk
Charlie Callas
as Cocker Spaniel
Ron Clark
as Zachary Cartwright
Lee Delano
as Norton
Richard Stahl
as Dr. Baxter
Darrell Zwerling
as Dr. Eckhardt
Murphy Dunne
as Piano Player
Al Hopson
as Man Who is Shot
Bob Ridgely
as Flasher
Albert J. Whitlock
as Arthur Brisbane
Pearl Shear
as Screaming Woman at Gate
Arnold Soboloff
as Dr. Colburn
Eddie Ryder
as Doctor at Convention
Sandy Helberg
as Airport Attendant
Bernie Kuby
as Dr. Wilson
Billy Sands
as Customer
Ira Miller
as Psychiatrist with Children
Robert Manuel
as Policeman at Airport
John Dennis
as Orderly
Robin Menken
as Cocktail Waitress
Bullets Durgom
as Man in Phone Booth
Joe Bellan
as Male Attendant
Mitchell Bock
as Bar Patron
Bryan Englund
as Orderly #2
Alan U. Schwartz
as Psychiatrist
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Critic Reviews for High Anxiety

All Critics (29) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (8)

Audience Reviews for High Anxiety

  • May 14, 2012
    As average a comedy as you can get. The comedy is really hit and miss in this movie, probably misses far more often. But it's never bad by any means and it's, very obviously, a loving spoof of Hitchcock's films. Of course it goes without saying that this movie NEVER reaches the true greatness of Young Frankenstein but it was unrealistic to expect this movie to be as good. It is NOT unrealistic, however, to expect this movie to be good. Sadly it is a disappointingly average movie.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • May 12, 2012
    Dr. Charles Montague: Enjoy yourself, for God's sake! Get your mind off the Wentworth murder... Accident! Accident!  "A Psycho-Comedy" High Anxiety is a really stupid, moderately funny Hitchcock spoof. This isn't one of Mel Brooks better films. It doesn't touch his classics like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, but it is much better than his bottom dweller Dracula: Dead and Loving It. This one works just enough for me because of the subject matter. I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan; just like everyone else who is familiar with his work. So a spoof of some of his most legendary films and scenes was, at the very least, going to be interesting. While I think Brooks could have done a much better job with the material, it was still decent enough.  The highlights of the film are two scenes that are reenacted from two different Hitchcock films. The first being the shower scene from Psycho and the second being the birds landing behind the woman from The Birds. Both brilliant scenes are taken and used in the most ridiculous context imaginable. Watch the scenes and you'll know what I mean. They definitely aren't smart comedy, but smart comedy was never what Brooks was selling; and that's what makes him such a genius I guess. This should be good enough if you are a fan of Brooks' brand of comedy. It would also help if you are familiar with Hitchcock because if not, a lot of the references and comedy will be lost on you. Still it's a little disappointing just because I wanted a Young Frankenstein caliber film from Brooks when he was working with Hitchcock's films as his material. 
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2012
    High Anxiety is a wonderful Mel brooks film. It wasn't one of those where you were cracking up the whole time (which people expect from a Mel Brooks movie) but it was one of those that had a lot of witty quotes and one of the best Story lines you've seen in a Brooks film
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2010
    Another hilarious spoof comedy from Brooks, this one spoofs Hitchcock's films, and it's very effective. If you like Brook's films, check it out.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

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