Daily Archives: September 11, 2010

High Anxiety

Directed by Mel Brooks
Produced by Mel Brooks
Written by Mel Brooks
Ron Clark
Rudy De Luca
Barry Levinson
Starring Mel Brooks
Madeline Kahn
Cloris Leachman
Harvey Korman
Ron Carey
Howard Morris
Dick Van Patten
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Paul Lohmann
Editing by John C. Howard
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date December 25, 1977
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
High Anxiety isn’t one of Mel Brooks’ funniest films but it is watchable and in quite amusing at times. The film is a spoof of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers and is meant to be a tribute to Hitch, but it is one that I feel is not really necessary. For one thing Hitchcock’s movies are filled with enough humour themselves, as they never take anything too seriously. They have an underlying dark humour unlike Mel’s obvious pie in the face style.

High Anxiety isn’t as good as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein or The Producers and is probably the point at which Mel Brooks’ films started to become less and less funny. I think that after the monumental success of Blazing Saddles Mel started to half-ass things as his movies after 1974 are merely amusing and not laugh out loud funny.

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Blockheads

Directed by John G. Blystone
Produced by Hal Roach Jr. & Hal Roach
Written by Felix Adler

Arnold Belgard

Harry Langdon
James Parrott
Charley Rogers
Starring Stan Laurel
Oliver Hardy
Patricia Ellis

Minna Gombell

Billy Gilbert
Jimmy Finlayson
Music by Marvin Hatley
Cinematography Art Lloyd
Editing by Bert Jordan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date August 19, 1938
Running time 57 min.
Language English

Universal Australia has just released a lot of Laurel & Hardy dvds onto the market. These are from the British DVD set which have been remastered. These dvds aren’t even available in America. These are currently selling in Big W for $8.80. While all of the disc in the set contain some fine Laurel & Hardy films the ones that are essential for any comedy lover are Volume 14 – A Job To Do/Classic Shorts, which features The Music Box (the short film where they try to deliver a piano up a flight of stairs), Volume 13 – Sons Of The Desert/Related Shorts, Volume 3 – Way Out West/Related Shorts, Sons Of The Desert and Way Out West being Laurel & Hardy’s best known feature films. Volume 16 – Maritime Adventures/Classic Shorts features another one of the duos best short films, Towed In A Hole, which is the film where they go fishing. Still as I said earlier all of the dvds are worth owning.

Blockheads was released in 1938. This is the film where after WWI Stan has been left behind in the trenches for twenty years not knowing that the war has finished. When he finally finds out he goes back to America where he is reunited with Ollie and chaos occurs. There are quite a few laugh out loud moments which is quite rare when watching movies over 70 years old.

I was reading the other day about why Laurel & Hardy have such a great appeal even now. They aren’t known for any violent slapstick like The Three Stooges, or any smartass one liners like Groucho Marx or W.C. Fields. The author of the book I was reading (whose title escapes me right now) said that basically Stan and Ollie are big babies and that it is this child-like quality that appeals to fans, especially children. I’m not so sure about that but I do know that they were very funny together.