HIGH ANXIETY (1977) C 94m dir: Mel Brooks
w/Mel Brooks, Madeleine Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman, Ron Carey, Howard Morris, Dick Van Patten, Jack Riley, Charlie Callas, Richard Stahl, Ron Clark, Albert Whitlock, Bob Ridgely, Jack Riley, Barry Levinson
From The Movie Guide: "Mel Brooks's so-so feat of Hitchcockian tribute: he stars, produces, directs, cowrites, and sings the title song (and he has a much better singing voice than you might imagine). Whereas men like Brian De Palma and Colin Higgins will make movies reminiscent of Hitchcock without citing that director, Brooks is patently spoofing the rotund master with HIGH ANXIETY. Even if you don't know the original work, this film indicates its inspiration fairly well. The head of the Institute for the Very Very Nervous is found murdered, and Brooks, a man who fears heights so badly that he won't wear elevator shoes, takes over as psychiatrist-in-charge. Assistant Korman and nurse Leachman have been spinning a plot to keep the patients captive while bilking them out of their money, and they fear that Brooks will put an end to that. Parody is a tricky business, but Brooks sometimes succeeds in paying homage to SPELLBOUND, VERTIGO, PSYCHO, and THE BIRDS with all of the usual middle-cut Hitchcock formulae: innocent man accused of something he didn't do, reluctant heroine (Kahn) who helps, etc. Many familiar scenes come out of Hitchcock with the standouts being prowling camera work and Hitch's use of musical scores. Audiences flocked to theaters and made this movie a hit. Some interesting sidelights in casting include famed matte artist Albert Whitlock as Brisbane, successful commercials actors Bob Ridgely and Jack Riley, and co-writer [Barry] Levinson as the bellboy. Levinson went on to become highly regarded as a director with DINER and THE NATURAL. Morris was for years one of Sid Caesar's second bananas on TV and now earns his living as a director and sometimes cartoon voice ('The Paw-Paws' for Hanna-Barbera, among others). Callas is a busy nightclub comic, and Richard Stahl is one of the best comedy character men in the business."