Friday, August 26, 2011

High Anxiety, You Win…Me Over! My Multimedia Review

For those of you who’ve asked about my DorianTB avatar photo since this mug of mine began turning up on Facebook and in this blog, the answer is directly related to this week’s blog post about Mel Brooks’ smart, affectionate, deliriously funny 1977 Alfred Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety! You see, during my senior year at Fordham University in 1985, our beloved Theater professor Sister Francesca Thompson, the coolest and most sophisticated nun ever, assigned our class to lip-synch to a recording of our choice; the more inventive the performance, the better. I decided to salute two of my favorites with one stone, so to speak.
I wore a black fedora from my dear mom's vast hat wardrobe, a black tuxedo-style blazer, and black slacks—that is, until I innocently strode up to my pal and classmate Kypro (“Kyp” for short), nonchalantly removed my slacks, and asked him to keep an eye on them during my number. Considering that Kyp looked rather like a young 1980s version of Victor Mature, the look on his face was especially priceless, bless him! I went up to the front of the classroom, looking as much like Judy Garland in Summer Stock as I could. (Luckily, I had a cute figure then, if I do say so myself!) I opened my mouth to lip-synch—and out came the boisterous voice of Mel Brooks singing “High Anxiety” from the soundtrack album! If I do say so myself, I brought down the house, getting an A+, and it was a heck of a lot of fun, as well as a confidence boost for a shy kid like me (don’t let my gregarious writing style fool you!).
Off to Sr. Francesca's Theater class, 1985
High Anxiety (HA even the initials are funny!) is great fun even if you're not already an Alfred Hitchcock fan — but if you are, you'll love it all the more as you nail specific spoofs of and references to Hitchcock’s classic suspense films. The key is that Brooks’ best movie genre parodies would still be solid genre films if you took out all the jokes and sight gags. That’s why his biggest hits are so good and have been so dearly loved, such as 1974’s Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. HA is a comedy piƱata stuffed with outrageous yet affectionate spoofs of Hitchcock’s best films—a far cry from many other genre parodies who try to do what Brooks and his writers do when they’re at their best, except that all too many of the wannabes’ attempts come off as puerile and mean-spirited.

I should explain to those who might be new to Mel Brooks’ work (so many young movie fans to inspire!) that aside from Brooks’ solo screenplays for his 1968 Oscar-winner The Producers, and 1970’s The Twelve Chairs, his best scripts have often been collaborations between himself and other writers, as they did with Your Show of Shows. Of course, there’s wit in Hitchcock’s thrillers, too. The difference is that Hitchcock’s humor was sleek and sly, while Brooks and his co-writers Ron Clark, Rudy DeLuca, and future Oscar-winner Barry Levinson are boisterously cheeky; as Brooks himself might say, “they kid because they love.”
Flying the friendly skies? Richard begs to differ!
Herrmann-like  traveling music from John Morris!
Madeline Kahn as Victoria Brisbane - so cute!
Montague & Diesel unwind after a day of evildoing
The plot plays delightfully like Hitchcock’s Greatest Hits, or as our friend and fellow blogger Nathanael Hood of Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear said in his own superb in-depth High Anxiety blog post from 2009: “The Master of Comedy takes on The Master of Suspense!...I find that this film is more than just a collection of satirical set pieces. It shows an endearing love of Hitchcock. Not only are his movies parodied; Hitchcock’s camera movements are mimicked, his musical scores quoted, and even the actors’ performances are modeled after prominent characters from his movies. Many of the references are subtle. So subtle that they can be missed, or even outright ignored by audiences.” The story is a delightful blend of every Hitchcock trope as seen through a funhouse mirror. Our hero, Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (Brooks), arrives as the new head man of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous; it’s like Green Manors in Spellbound (1945). Of course, the P-NIftV,VN is goofier than Green Manors ever was, with patients like Charlie Callas as the man who thinks he’s a cocker spaniel, and who Richard is led to believe is Arthur Brisbane, Industrialist. (The real Brisbane is played by the dapper, gentlemanly F/X expert Albert Whitlock, who worked on several Hitchcock movies.)

Meanwhile, poor Richard is fighting a vertigo-like malady, the titular High Anxiety. “If left unchecked, it can cost you your life!” declares his old friend and mentor Professor Lillolman (Howard Morris)—whereupon Lillolman and Richard are startled by an ominous musical sting, courtesy of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra’s touring bus! Soon Richard becomes the man who knew too much as he falls in love with Brisbane’s beautiful, soignee daughter Victoria (Madeline Kahn), or as Richard and others say, “You’re the cocker’s daughter?” Before you can say “Que sera sera,” Richard’s making like Frank Sinatra crooning the title song for Vicki in the hotel’s Art Deco-ish piano bar (for me, that’s HA’s highlight), and getting framed by evil P-NIftV,VN personnel Nurse Diesel (Cloris Leachman) and her love slave Dr. Montague (Harvey Korman) for a murder he didn’t commit, running hither and yon to clear himself through all kinds of picturesque locations while the Hitchcock gags (and even a few that aren’t Hitchcock-centric but are still funny anyway) fly thick and fast and fabulous—and so much more!

Don't you feel less neurotic already?
While I’ve always thought Brooks’ former co-star and co-writer Gene Wilder would've been perfect casting as acrophobic psychiatrist Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke (click here for the psychiatrist panel and the HA musical number to find out what “H” is short for), Brooks is nevertheless as irresistible as he is irrepressible, with Kahn a fine match for him as the flakiest mysterious blonde this side of Kim Novak. When you’ve seen as many Mel Brooks comedies as Vinnie and I have, you notice the genuine emotions behind the laughter. Sure enough, HA’s approach is as affectionate as it is hilarious. Not to overstate the case, but there’s palpable tenderness in the almost father-son relationship between Richard and Professor Lillolman, as well as the budding romance between Richard and Victoria. Ah, but there’s plenty of funny packed between the tender moments and Hitchcockian suspense! For example...


Dick Van Patten is caught in a web of evil, beyond the shadow of a doubt!

Could Vicki Brisbane be the future Mrs. Dr. Victoria Harpo Thorndyke?
It's not heights little Richard was afraid of, it's parentsor Pablum!
  • Professor Lillolman, who reminds me of Spellbound Oscar-nominee Michael Chekhov, is mistakenly addressed as “Professor Little-Old-Man.”
  • As Victoria, Kahns a knockout in her Vertigo gray suit and picture hat and Notorious-style black gown (not to mention her Louis Vuitton jumpsuit and matching car!). Vicki’s ditzy moments crack me up, too, like her hotel room scene while Richards in a phone booth trying not to be strangled by Diesel and Montague’s henchman “Braces” (co-writer Rudy DeLuca). First she tries to pretend she’s not turned on by what she thinks is an obscene phone call, then she tosses away her Vuitton teddy bear and backpedals like mad when she realizes it’s Richard: “I knew it was you! I laughed. Did you laugh?”
  • As Dr. Montague, Harvey Korman dresses like Charles Gray in the 1968 Hammer thriller/period piece The Devil Rides Out. As Nurse Diesel, Cloris Leachman looks like a scarily hilarious cross between Rebecca’s Mrs. Danvers and Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S.! They play uproariously outrageous bondage-and-discipline games when they’re not keeping rich patients prisoner. Dominatrix Nurse Diesel: “I know you better than you know yourself. You live for bondage and discipline!” Submissive Dr. Montague: “Too much bondage! Not enough discipline!”
  • Like any self-respecting Hitchcock-style hero, Richard has what The New York Times reviewer described as “an elegant flaw,” namely his High Anxiety. The Times went on to say, “He has the cowardly man’s restless glance as he keeps track of the terrain and of all the ways to make a quick exit.” My kind of guy! I’m also tickled that Richard’s name is clearly a nice tip of the hat to debonair but beleaguered hero Roger O. Thornhill from North by Northwest. Those who’ve been following TotED for a while may recall that North by Northwest is not only my favorite Hitchcock film, it’s my absolute favorite film of all time, period. 
Now when I love a movie, I go out of my way to learn everything I can about it, including buying novelizations of that film if there is one. High Anxiety was no exception. The author of the High Anxiety paperback was Robert H. Pilpel, who wrote a great many articles for Harper’s Magazine, as well as a number of his own books, including the 1979 historical novel To the Honor of the Fleet; Between Eternities; Churchill in America, and a title that particularly intrigued me, Understanding your Therapist, or Why is This Taking So Long? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that last title got Pilpel the High Anxiety novelization gig! Pilpel has a real gift for humorous writing with a sting in the tail, blending comedy, suspense, and romance nicely. For example, here’s our height-hating hero’s first-person account of his feelings as his airline prepares to land:
Omigod, we’re losing altitude! No, the ground is gaining altitude! “Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the No Smoking sign. Please extinguish all smoking materials. Make sure your seat belts are fastened and your seats in the full upright position for our arrival in Los Angeles.” Omigod! Too fast, too fast! We’re dropping like a stone….Oh, Lord, why does the landing gear coming down always sound like the landing gear breaking off?
And here’s Richard insisting on meeting Arthur Brisbane, and Montague reluctantly phoning Nurse Diesel to set up a meet-and-greet:
“Hello? Nurse Diesel? Dr. Montague here. Dr. Thorndyke would like to visit Arthur Brisbane this afternoon…Good…Oo-yay oh-knay ut-way oo-tay oo-day. Et it gay?”

He hung up with a little flourish of his wrist, as if Pig Latin were the most natural language for a licensed psychiatrist to use in speaking with a psychiatric nurse.
Richard sees the ultra-modern (for the late 1970s) Hyatt Regency Hotel for the first time:
Convention headquarters in San Francisco was a large modernistic hotel almost twenty stories high, built around a central glass-roofed courtyard. By some fiendish miracle of advanced architecture, the hotel was constructed so that each floor facing the courtyard juts out into thin air a little farther than the floor just below it. As you stand in the lobby, therefore, you are treated to the impression that the whole building is about to cave in on you. If you leave the lobby and venture upward, on the other hand, you are treated to the impression that gravity will soon bring you and the whole impudent pile of overhangs crashing ignominiously to the ground. The net impression you are treated to is that you should get the hell out of there before the building makes you dead, and that impression becomes a certainty when you see the fishbowl elevators whizzing up and down at the junctions of the walls like to many glass-enclosed coffins. It was doing my High Anxiety no good.
A beautiful stranger (who turns out to be Vicki Brisbane) bursts into Richard’s hotel room:
“Get away from me,” she snapped. “Don’t move. Be quiet. They’ll hear you. Close the drapes.”

It occurred to me that I was dealing with a beautiful victim of paranoia—a beautiful armed victim—so I went to do as she’d asked.

“Get down!” she said vehemently. “They’ll see you.”

Paranoid. Definitely. I crouched down and closed the drapes.

“Close the other one,” she commanded.

Paranoid and pushy. I obediently started across the room.

“Keep down,” she ordered.

She was so obviously scared and so much more obviously pretty that I really didn’t mind being bossed around by her. Her gun impressed me, too…Suddenly there was the sound of the doorknob turning…. Quick,” she said. “Make believe you know me.” And with that, she pulled me to her and kissed me as no paranoid had ever kissed me before.
Our trapped hero Braces himself for mortal combat!
Braces starts strangling Richard in the phone booth as he calls Vicki:
Vicki jumped to the wrong conclusion. Listen, fella. I don’t go for this kind of thing.”

I managed to get one hand between my throat and the wire, but almost immediately the strangling pressure of the cord trapped it, and I could feel my wrist bone being forced into my Adam’s apple. I gasped and huffed like a man with terminal asthma, which in a way was what I was.

“Who is this?” Victoria asked. “Listen, you’re crazy if you think I’m going to stay on this phone and listen to heavy breathing.”

It wasn’t working. I was making a lot of noise, but no air was coming in. Red spots started dancing in front of my eyes.

“Listen,” Victoria went on, “maybe other girls get turned on with these kinky phone calls, but I couldn’t care less. How did you get my unlisted phone number? Did someone I know give it to you?...Listen, mister, I’m not going to listen to any more of this. I’ve had just about enough!...What are you wearing?”

It was horrible. I was being strangled to death while listening to the girl I loved mistake me for a pervert. It made me wild with terror and despair. It made me want to wail and sob. The only sound I could squeeze out, however, was a squeaky “Jeeeeee…Jeeeeee….”

“Jeans?” said Victoria. “You’re wearing jeans? I bet they’re tight.”
So if you loved the movie, read the book! I’ve seen it available online. 

And if you haven't yet read all of Nate Hood's excellent High Anxiety blog post, here's a link:

http://forgottenclassicsofyesteryear.blogspot.com/2009/10/high-anxiety.html

26 comments:

  1. Great article! I wish that Mel Brooks would do more films...he had a rare gift that the world could really use these days...

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  2. Thanks, Nate, for your praise and for including excerpts from your excellent blog post! I agree: more Mel Brooks films like his classic comedies are certainly one of many good things the world could use right now!

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  3. Holy cats! I just realized that TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED's first anniversary occurred this past Monday, August 22nd! Where the heck did the time go?! Thanks to all of you who've been nice enough to follow TotED, and here's hoping for many more years of blogging fun and frolic to come! :-)

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  4. Our sharp and sassy soignee cinema aficionado Yvette is once again fearlessly joining the conversation despite Blogger trying to thwart her at every turn! Here's what she had to say:

    "Great overview, Dorian.

    There are some vulgarisms in HIGH ANXIETY I’m not happy about. But with Mel Brooks, you gotta’ take the wince-making stuff with the good.

    This has always seemed to me a kind of uneasy mix of thriller and comedy. Blood coming out of ears doesn’t lend itself to too much laughing.

    But regardless, this is a terrific Brook-sian take on Hitchcock.

    My favorite scene: the soundtrack music coming from the orchestra in the bus. I laugh out loud every time. SO clever!

    Institute for the Very VERY Nervous. HA!

    Also love the character name – Professor Lillolman. Too funny. Howie Morris. Cloris Leachman. Harvey Korman. Madeleine Kahn. What could be bad?

    This whole thing reminds me I need to see this movie again. Haven’t seen it in years.

    Thanks Dorian!"

    Yvette, you're welcome, AND thank you for not letting those pesky Blogger issues spoil your fun, or ours! I do agree with you about the murder scene with poor Dick Van Patten's ears leaking blood kinda puts a damper on the fun. Luckily, the fun stuff in HIGH ANXIETY considerably outnumbers the flawed stuff, in my opinion. Thanks again for dropping by, and if you're in a hurricane zone like so many people here, stay safe and dry!

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  5. "That guy doesn't get a tip" - really loved the Psycho parody, particularly when the newsprint-dyed water ran down the drain (also liked how Brooks threw in a "Blow-up" parody to boot) - Enjoyed your very funny review (had NO idea this film was novelized! Thanks!)

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  6. GOM, I'm so glad you enjoyed my HIGH ANXIETY blog post, and that you just quoted one of my favorite HA lines! :-) Isn't it great how many Hitchcock references and neo-Hitchcockian references Brooks & Company managed to pack in, like the BLOW-UP bit? Talk about audiences getting their money's worth! :-) Thanks for joining the conversation!

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  7. Dorian, you are completely at fault for the fact that I now have blurred vision, shaking extremities and strange croaking noises coming from my throat -- NO, I don't need to be committed to the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, VERY Nervous! It is happening because I laughed so hysterically, even maniacally, that my eyes blurred, I hyper-ventilated, and my throat is sore!

    I'm really not kidding. I know HA just about by heart, and every reminder you gave was responsible for my condition. Also, your famous turn of a phrase ("comedy pinata" ... "scarily hilarious cross between Rebecca’s Mrs. Danvers and Ilsa, She-Wolf of the S.S." ... two of my favories!) made it funny along with the quotes and such from the movie itself.

    You know, I have NEVER read a novelization of a movie - I always figured it would have to be just a cheap version of the original script. But this one looks worthwhile. I really liked Pilpel's "Understanding your Therapist, or Why is This Taking So Long?" Makes me think of Woody Allen, in therapy for 25 years and 'starting to make progress.' LOL!

    I hope Yvette won't think less of me, but I love Brooks' vulgarisms -- he knows how to do it without being disgusting or stupidly juvenile. As a matter of fact, Brooks is just the master of spoof. That is a much harder thing to write and really pull off than most people would imagine, I bet. Now, to end with a couple of HA-isms I feel COMPELLED to mention - Nurse Diesel and her needle-pointed cone boobs ("those who are late do not get fruit cup!") ... Mel singing in the lounge, throwing the microphone cord over his shoulder, singing "Ooooh, 'ziety!" with that goofy look on his face ... Brooks at the conference staring at the kids and making up such stupid euphemisms ... and, of course, "It got it..I got it..I got it...I don't got it!"

    Can you tell I adore this movie? Is it obvious? Kudos for a great review, Dorian!

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  8. Ah, Becky, you're good for my fragile little ego! :-) Seriously, I'm thrilled and flattered that you enjoyed and laughed yourself silly over HIGH ANXIETY, just as we of Team Bartilucci always do even though we've seen HA a zillion times!

    Not every novelization is a winner, but I've found some that I love. As you've seen, Robert H. Pilpel's version of HA is high on my list of novelization favorites! Mel Brooks' rendition of the HA theme song is, of course, one of my favorites; his "Ooooh, 'xiety" bit never fails to crack me up, especially when we see Madeline Kahn's reactions, too. Our whole family loves HA, and my mom was a big fan, too; the two of us could quote just about every line!

    Thanks a million for your enthusiastic post, Becks; you brought sunshine to a hurricane-y day, and that's quite a feat! :-)

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  9. Oops, I don't think my comment is long enough (hardyhar). Just came back to say I bet you turned a lot of heads in that outfit in college!

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  10. Becks, you're a sweetie -- thanks for your favorable comments on my Judy Garland/HIGH ANXIETY costume! I must confess I was a little worried that using that picture in a size bigger than my tiny little avatar would look like I was either showing off or just plain foolish. However, Vinnie bolstered my confidence with another Mel Brooks quote, this one from THE PRODUCERS: "When you got it, baby, flaunt it, FLAUNT IT!" :-) Thanks again, pal!

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  11. DorianTB, I'm not really a Mel Brooks fan. But... I did really did enjoy reading your post and learning more about you. I think your avatar photo, is Awesome!! I love hats and wear them whenever I can. Also, Congrats!! On your first anniversary.

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  12. Dawn, thanks a million for your charming comments about my post and my picture, as well as your nice TotED anniversary wishes! My dear mom really knew how to rock a great hat, so I'll try to set a good example for my own daughter, Siobhan! :-)

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  13. Dorian: thanks for a great post about Mel Brooks - one of my most favorite people in the world. He brings the joy of laughter with never a mean bone in his body. I love almost all of his films - High Anxiety included - and have seen both The Producers and Young Frankenstein on Broadway. Is it true that Blazing Saddles is next ? Oh, I hope it twue, it's twue!

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  14. FlickChick, you had me at "it's twue, it's twue!" :-) Can you imagine a Broadway version of BLAZING SADDLES? The trick is to get the horses onstage. :-) My husband Vinnie and I never had the opportunity to see YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN on Broadway, but we were lucky enough to see THE PRODUCERS on Broadway during its first week, with the original Tony-winning cast! Here's a link to our March blog post about the movie and musical versions of PRODUCERS:

    http://doriantb.blogspot.com/2011/03/producers-meetthe-producers.html

    I agree with you wholeheartedly about how Brooks and his comedies don't have a mean bone in their collective body, unlike the folks responsible for dreck like DATE MOVIE or MEET THE SPARTANS. Thanks for your nice praise; I'm always delighted to connect with fellow Mel Brooks fans like you!

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  15. Dorian and Vinny, sorry for the late comments, but, well, an earthquake and a hurricane got in the way this week! (I always want to write that line.) First, happy anniversary to one of my favorite blogs! Second, I always liked your profile pic, Dorian, and it turns out the story behind is better than anything I could have imagined. Finally, your review of HIGH ANXIETY is one of your best. It may be my favorite Mel Brooks movie--though it wasn't always that way. When I first saw it as a teen, I wasn't familiar enough with the Hitchcock oeuvre to appreciate all the gags. By the way, one of my favorite gags is one of the simplest...a long tracking shot that gets in the way of the scenery. Thanks for doing this fummy film justice.

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  16. And the heck of it is, you're not kidding! :-) Rick, Vinnie and I thank you for your kind Happy 1st TotED Anniversary wishes! Ironically, our wedding anniversary was last month. It'a one thing after another -- mostly happy things, not to put the whammy on it! :-)

    Thanks, too, Rick, for your enthusiastic praise of my HIGH ANXIETY blog post and my profile pic! :-) This post in particular was a real labor of love for me, and I'm delighted that you and our pals here enjoyed it, too. When I first saw HA in its 1977 theatrical release, I loved it as both a Mel Brooks fan and a Hitchcock fan, but over the years my affection for HA has deepened because I've learned so much more about Hitchcock and movies in general. Isn't it great when that happens?

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  17. I never thought of Mel Brooks as "irresistible", but, by golly, I think you're onto something.

    I wish I could have seen you in class!

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  18. Caftan Woman, the most irresistible people I know are usually the funny ones. Your delightful anecdote about your husband in your comments in my recent GAZEBO blog post springs to mind! :-) Also, your comment "I wish I could have seen you in class!" put a big smile on my face -- thanks!

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  19. For me, HA is a notch below YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, THE PRODUCERS AND BLAZING SADDLES but that is no insult, those three films set the standards pretty high and it is almost impossible for anyone to continue such a brilliant streak (except for Mr. Hitchcock himself). Your classroom presentation must have been a reel hoot (now there is a word I never use, must be living in the South too long). If I were in that classroom I could imagine falling out of my chair when you started lip synching to HA.

    HA is a funny and loving tribute to AH just as your fabulous review is a loving tribute to Brooks laugh out loud film. The scene that always first comes to my mind is when Brooks camera crashes through a window. Like you and Vinnie, my wife and I got to see the stage version of THE PRODUCERS early on, in fact, it was still in previews, a few days before its official opening. We were doing a long weekend in NYC and had purchased advanced tickets for Lily Tomlin's THE SEARCH OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE. After seeing that show we decided to take a shot and see if any tickets were available for the next day's performance of THE PRODUCERS which, if you remember, had a very strong advanced sale. Anyway, we managed to get tickets, partially blocked views off to the side but way up front, and since we were flying back to Fla. the next day it was that or nothing. We were glad we made the right choice; the show was great, as you know. But the best treat was at the break between acts when we noticed that Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Gene Wilder were in the audience watching what was, as I mentioned one of the last previews before the opening. That made it an even more memorable experience.

    Dorian, I truly enjoyed your essay here, fabulously information, funny and entertaining stuff as always, and congratulations on your first anniversary!

    John (24frames)

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  20. John, I'm tickled and honored by your copious praise of my HIGH ANXIETY post -- beaucoup thanks indeed, my friend! Nice bit of wordplay with your "reel hoot" quip!

    I loved your anecdote about you and your dear wife managing to see the Broadway version of THE PRODUCERS while it was in previews on your last night in NYC -- and with Anne Bancroft, Gene Wilder, and Brooks himself in the audience, at that! When Vinnie and I saw the show, we were delighted to have mezzanine seats (with a group of fans dressed variously in Kaiser helmets and Homburg hats a la Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock!), because those seats gave us a perfect view of the big "Springtime for Hitler" number.

    Thanks again for your kudos and your 1st TotED anniversary wishes, John! Suddenly I'm wanting to bake a cake in celebration -- or better yet, custard pies, as befits the comedy genius of Mel Brooks & Company! :-)

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  21. I remember seeing "High Anxiety" in a theater when it was first out. The entire audience, including me, hysterical. Mel Brooks doing Hitchcock was brilliant and priceless. And your piece reminds me: Oh, how I miss the great Madeline Kahn.

    Great post - and, in the bargain, revelation of the origins of your avatar...I might add: You may have been shy, but you had chutzpah!

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  22. Eve, thanks for your kind words! I miss Madeline Kahn, too; she'd been one of my favorite comediennes since I first saw her in Peter Bogdanovich's WHAT'S UP, DOC? Damn ovarian cancer -- ah, Madeline, we hardly knew ye! But on a much happier note, her performance as HIGH ANXIETY's Victoria Brisbane is one of my favorite Kahn performances.

    And beaucoup thanks for your flattering comments about my avatar's origin story! Incidentally, my mom had lovingly encouraged me to let my inner comedienne run wild that day (she knew how shy I usually was in front of an audience, but also knew how funny I could be among family and friends), and bless her, it worked! :-)

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  23. Terrific post. I laughed out loud at your description of Madeline Khan's "Louis Vuitton jumpsuit and matching car." This sounds like a fun movie - and the novel sounds like a hoot!

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  24. Ruth, many thanks for your positive feedback! I'm delighted that you enjoyed the details about Madeline Kahn and her car-and-clothes Vuitton ensemble; it's always been one of our favorite gags, too. Anyone who loves both Alfred Hitchcock and Mel Brooks should by all means get ahold of HIGH ANXIETY on DVD (heck, it might even be on Blu-Ray by now), pull up a comfy chair, and get ready to laugh! :-)

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