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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - June, 2010

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"High Anxiety" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-june-2010-high-anxiety

Synopsis

Famous psychiatrist Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Brooks) has just been named head of the prestigious Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous.  Before he even gets to his new office, he learns of some strange goings-on at the institute.  It seems the evil Nurse Diesel (Leachman) and her love slave, Dr. Montague (Korman) are keeping famous industrialist Arthur Brisbane captive at the asylum.  When his daughter Victoria (Kahn) shows up, Thorndyke devotes himself to solving the mystery.  After he is framed for murder, things really turn to chaos.  Through all this, he must overcome his fear of heights which he finally does as he saves Brisbane’s life.  All ends well when he marries Victoria and lives happily ever after.

 

Specifications

  • 20th Century Fox
  • 1977, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 34 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec:  AVC @ 27 Mb/s
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Korman
  • Directed by Mel Brooks
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This is classic slapstick 70s comedy.  Everything is overdone and the gags are never-ending.  High Anxiety spoofs many of the most well-known films from Alfred Hitchcock.  I certainly enjoyed the masterful satire of the legendary shower scene from Psycho.  The entire ending sequence is lifted right out of Vertigo; even down to the Spanish-style bell tower.  You’ll also recognize a famous scene from The Birds.  This time it’s pigeons instead of black crows and rather than attacking Mel Brooks they simply poop on him mercilessly.  Fans of this genre will certainly enjoy this movie as we see these comedy greats of the last century at the prime of their careers.  One fascinating bit of trivia I learned:  the actor who played Arthur Brisbane, Albert Whitlock, was Alfred Hitchcock’s principal matte artist for most of his movies.

Technical

The image was above average for a catalog title in that it was quite sharp and clean.  Some effort was obviously put into making a decent transfer.  I did have two complaints; edge enhancement and overblown flesh tones.  The added sharpening was, as usual, totally unnecessary.  It was obvious that a very clean print was used.  The color was oversaturated in faces to the point where it flattened them.  Detail was there but people looked a bit orange most of the time.  The picture was quite bright and vivid throughout.

Audio was very clean but restricted to the front channels only.  I heard nothing from the surrounds and there was nothing for my sub to do either.  Occasionally higher frequencies, like those from female voices, sounded compressed.  I would attribute this to the original sound mix, not this particular transfer.  I suspect High Anxiety has never sounded better.

Extras

Bonus features consist of a making of documentary, an interactive test called “Am I very, Very Nervous?” a Hitchcock trivia track, and an audio-only presentation of the film’s score.  There are also trailers for other Mel Brooks movies.