Sunday, March 22, 2009

Feathered Fiends

Nothing equals The Birds for sheer terror when Alfred Hitchcock unleashes his foul friends in one of his most shocking and memorable masterpieces. As beautiful blond Melanie Daniels ('Tippi' Hedren) rolls into Bodega Bay in pursuit of eligible bachelor Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. Suddenly thousands of birds are flocking into town, preying on school children and residents in a terrifying series of attacks. Soon Mitch and Melanie are fighting for their lives against a deadly force that can't be explained and can't be stopped in one of Hollywood's most horrific films of nature gone berserk.

Title: The Birds
Release: March 28, 1963
Genre: Thriller
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Based On: The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier
Writer: Evan Hunter
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Music By: Oskar Sala
Produced By: Alfred Hitchcock
Distributed By: Universal Pictures
Run Time: 119 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock may have passed away nearly 30 years ago but his films and TV show, not to mention his impact on suspense/ thriller genre may never be forgotten. After Psycho, probably his most well known film was the adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s short story The Birds. It was his first film for Universal and it was nominated for the special effects Academy Award that year.

This is a film that is firmly a part of our pop culture and is even number seven on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list but somehow I had never seen it before. As much as I have heard of The Birds, I was expecting a great suspense film but I just wasn’t very impressed. Sure, it was creepy and the cast was great but I really hated that they left why the birds attacked unexplained. Hitchcock said, "If you provide an explanation for the phenomenon then the film becomes science fiction; we're not making science fiction, 'Birds' is a thriller, hence we leave out any explanation,"- and he was right, but that didn’t mean that I enjoyed it.

There is no doubt that this is a creepy film as the idea alone of birds attacking for no reason is scary. However, the movie isn't really about the birds, horrifying as their destruction is (and the special effects are really good for a film nearly 50 years old). It's really about the character's themselves and their interactions with one another but that isn’t what you think of until after the movie is through. Honestly, all I could do was stare at the TV when it ended and say, “That’s it?!” The “open-ended” ending baffled almost everyone at first too but the film still continues to endure.

Jessica Tandy and Tippi Hedren were wonderful in The Birds and although I had some difficulties with the story (I almost believe I would have liked that the original ending more), there is a reason why the movie is still shown in film lectures today. I may not enjoy it and in my unpopular opinion, Hitchcock shouldn't have "cut the first word 'For' and called it simply The Birds" after all but I can't help but appreciate what he accomplished with it.

Links: Imdb.com, Film Wikipedia, Author Wikipedia, TCM.com, Alfred Hitchcock Wikia, FilmSite
Interview: Ed McBain, Hitchcock,

Trailer:


Hitchcock Comments:


Rare Trailer/ Hedren Interview 1984:


Larry King with Hitchcock's Leading Ladies:

14 comments:

  1. as you know i did volunteer work for 3 yrs for Tippi at her Shambala Preserve.. she talked of this movie a number of times with the guests that came to see the animals.. according to Tippi it was not a nice experience. Hitchcock had some birds tied to Tippi for one scene and they pecked her badly.. she had to have some therapy from it!...

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  2. I saw The Birds a long time ago and thought it was good. Psycho, however, was fantastic and scared the pants off of me!

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  3. This was one of my favourite creepy movies growing up. I've seen it in the past few years and it still holds up.

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  4. This was such a creepy movie for me and now whenever I see big flocks of birds I think about this movie. Great review!

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  5. This was one of my favorite movies when I was little. My Mom and I used to watch it together then I'd freak out if I ever saw more than 5 birds together at a time. LOL

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  6. I watch this when I was little and blame it for my current slight case of birdphobia :P I want to watch it again, though, especially now that I've read the story.

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  7. What a fantastic review! I really enjoy this movie for the amazing cinematography and directing, but story-wise Psycho and Rear Window are my favorites.

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  8. I love Alfred Hitchcock's silhouette! :) I have not seen the birds, but I did finally see Psycho last summer. Very creepy!

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  9. *poke* Me again! I gave you an award! Thanks for being cool :)

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  10. I haven't seen this one and admit that it's not high on my list of movies to see. I like a lot of Hitchcock's work but not all of it.

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  11. J. Kaye: This was my first by him I believe.

    DesLily: I think I saw an interview where she mentions that. So cool that you got to meet her though!

    Bermudaonion: I have got to watch Psycho! I've never seen it.

    SciFiGuy: It does hold up amazingly well (just don't listen to it on surround sound- those birds are LOUD!)

    Naida: It was my first time seeing it so don't feel bad.

    Samantha: Before I had ever seen the film, whenever I saw huge flocks of birds I would yell, "They're coming to get us!" Guess that proves how much it's a part of our culture lol.

    MonieG: I bet I would have liked it as a kid. I watched IT when I was about 5 or 6 and became scared of clowns so I'm kind of glad I waited for so long to see it. My mom and I have had birds for as long as I can remember...

    Nymeth: I grew up with birds so I'm kind of glad I didn't see this as a kid. I'd like to read the story and then watch it again someday.

    Joanne: Aw thanks! I haven't seen either of those but I'm looking forward to trying them out eventually.

    The Epic Rat: I'm really curious about Psycho. Looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about!
    Aw, thanks! You're the one that's cool!!!

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  12. The Birds is one of the few Hitchcock films that I've seen and didn't like so much. I agree with you,Lady Tink,about the great f/x but the soap opera storyline given to the human characters was drier than dust:)

    The scene that annoys me the most is when Hedren's character opens up that bedroom door and sees the birds flying into the room and just stands there like a big dummy while they go after her! Incredibly stupid-I yelled at the screen,"Close the door,woman!" more than once there.

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