The most direct Hitchcock parodies in the film are, sadly, are the dumbest. When Van Patten attempts to leave the institute, his car is sabotaged but instead of the brakes going out like in Hitchcock's North by Northwest, Van Patten's radio is set to play loud rock music, puncturing his eardrums and giving him a cerebral hemorrhage. A too-lengthy setup about Thorndyke wanting a newspaper leads to a Psycho shower scene that could have been golden, copying the classic almost shot-for-shot until the frustrated bellhop charges in and attacks him with it the end of the scene, with Throndyke's hand grasping the shower curtain and ink from the paper circling the drain is hilarious, until Brooks ruins his own gag by adding an unfunny tag line ("That kid gets no tip"). And his take on The Birds is just one long poop joke. Things pick up a bit halfway through the film when Thorndyke attends a convention in San Francisco and meets Madeline Kahn as the requisite hot-and-cold blonde who's concerned about her father's treatment at the institute. What High Anxiety lacks is the understanding of and love for the source material that Brooks showed in Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles (1974), making it an extremely tepid, often stupid mockery of Hitchcock's quirks without any appreciation of his mastery. Sadly, Brooks' Sinatra-esque delivery of the title song in the hotel bar is the most satisfying scene in the picture, reminding us of how very, very good his satire can be when he's not derailed by his love of low-brow humor.
Fox's DVD release of High Anxiety arrives as part of the eight-film "Mel Brooks Collection," available in the box set or separately. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) is very, very good exceptionally clean and bright and the DD 2.0 audio (stereo English or monaural French and Spanish, with optional English or Spanish subtitles) is quite good as well, although John Morris' score is a pale imitation of Bernard Herrmann. No extras, keep-case (slimline case in the box-set).
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