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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

High Anxiety [Blu-ray]


(Mel Brooks, 1977)






Also part of the Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray



Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Crossbow Productions

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment



Region: FREE!

Runtime: 1:34:05.640

Disc Size: 34,506,496,679 bytes

Feature Size: 26,186,889,216 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps

Chapters: 32

Case: Standard U.S Blu-ray Case

Release date: May/11th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video




DTS-HD Master Audio English 3430 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3430 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2563 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2563 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English, Chinese, Korean, French, Portuguese & Spanish



• Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense (29:20)

• The Am I Very Very Nervous? Test.

• Don't Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock

• Isolated Score Track in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

• Theatrical Trailer


Description: Fox’s Mel Brooks Collection, released in December 2009, included nine of Mel Brooks' ten films - absent only The Producers. At that time three of his movies were already available on Blu-ray (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs) and it seemed only a matter of time before the other six would find their way to becoming available outside the collection. Fox is releasing three of them separately on May 11: Robin Hood: Men in Tights, History of the World: Part 1, and High Anxiety. Presumably the remaining three will come out on their own at some later date.



The Film: 6 NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Roger Ebert HERE liked this movie less than I did: But then Ebert saw it as more of a satire. I think it plays quite well, maybe better, if you don't know the references. I agree with Ebert that its best moments are not Hitchcock derived (the film is dedicated to the master of suspense), like the casting of Cloris Leachman as the sado-Nazi Nurse Diesel (some would argue this is not satire, but uncomfortably close to the truth), and Harvey Korman's conniving Dr. Montague.

Brooks plays Dr. Richard Thorndyke, a psychiatrist with a serious case of acrophobia, who arrives at the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous as its new director. Victoria Brisbane (Madeline Kahn) is the daughter of one of its inmates locked away in the hospital’s roach motel. Victoria believes that her father is not insane and tries to convince Thorndyke that the hospital is holding him there for some clandestine purpose. Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman), who has a penchant for whips and chains, is wonderfully transparent as the villain of the piece. Look for director Barry Levinson standing in for Norman Bates.



Image: 5/6
High Anxiety gets the weakest transfer in the collection: its 1.85:1 image is dull, flat, snowy, soft and grainy, though it improves some in the later reels. Perhaps the real mystery here is: why so weak? On the other hand, I found no digital manipulations in the transfer.













Audio & Music:7/8
The uncompressed audio mix, which is engaging and varied as called for, is largely front-directed as expected. The music is good enough to get its own Isolated Track if you're so disposed.


Extras: 5
If I counted correctly, Hitchcock and Mel: Spoofing the Master of Suspense is new for the Blu-ray. The "Am I Very Very Nervous?" Test and "Don't Get Anxious! The Trivia of Hitchcock" (which tends to duplicate pointing out the Hitchcock references that are documented in "Hitchcock and Mel") come from the DVD.



Bottom line: 7
High Anxiety has the weakest image of the nine Mel Brooks films in Fox's Blur-ay collection, and it remains so in this edition, since it is identical. All the same the movie has a certain charm and new Bonus Feature makes this an attractive purchase.

Leonard Norwitz
May 15th, 2010






Also part of the Mel Brooks Collection on Blu-ray



About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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