HIGH ANXIETY (1977)

From The 39 Steps (1935) to Family Plot (1976), Mel Brooks runs rampant through Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography in this inspired spoof. The master of suspense was so impressed that he sent Brooks a case of wine, only criticizing the shower scene because the shower curtain had too many rings. The script starts out doing Spellbound (1945), with Brooks as a psychoanalyst taking over management of an asylum whose head has died under mysterious circumstances. His efforts to solve the crime force him to confront his fear of heights (1958’s Vertigo) while leading to a fight with pigeons (trained by the same handler who had worked on The Birds in 1963) and continued encounters with an evil head nurse (Cloris Leachman) with echoes of Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940). There’s even a cameo by Hitchcock’s regular special effects man, Albert Whitlock, who also did the effects on this film. The cast is a who’s who of Brooks’ films, with Leachman joined by Madeline Kahn, Ron Carey, Harvey Korman and Dick Van Patten. As if satirizing Hitchcock wasn’t enough, Brooks also throws a hilarious send-up of Frank Sinatra when he sings the title number, which he wrote himself. (d. Mel Brooks, 94m,DCP)

In attendance: MEL BROOKS