Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Birds (1963) Alternatively Titled - I'm Never Feeding The Birds Again

It had been a plan to watch Hitchcock's The Birds with my bestie, Ia, forever and we kept skirting the issue. "Oh, but it's the 64 and three quarter year anniversary of Gregory Peck's death, let's watch Roman Holiday instead..." But yesterday we decided to bite the bullet and watch it. Boy was that an experience. Sorry Mary Poppins, but I'm not gonna be feeding your bloody birds anytime soon. Deranged I tell you. Deranged.

The plot concerns a beautiful but slightly lost and wild society girl, Melanie Daniels. Daughter of a big San Francisco newspaper mogul, she often gets into scrapes. Most recently breaking a woman's window during a practical joke. At a bird shop buying a talking bird as part of another practical joke, lawyer Mitch Brenner goes to play a little joke on her.


When she realises that he is representing the woman whose window she broke in court, she takes him up on his joke request for two lovebirds for his sister and delivers them to his house in Bodego Bay near San Francisco.

She's put out by the town's secludedness and goes to extreme lenghts to find out the name of Mitch's little sister so she can write her a card to go with the lovebirds. This takes her to schoolteacher, Annie, a mysterious Bodego Bay resident. Once she delivers the birds, she becomes entwined with the lives of Mitch's family - his sister and his overbearing mother. On her way back to the town after a visit to Mitch's house she is attacked by a seagull. Herein starts a series of serious bird attacks that shake the community causing terror, deaths and general hysteria.

I loved this film. It petrified me, but I loved it. It's beautiful in a morbidly fascinating way. The special effects of layered on birds are great - advanced for the period. This is a bit of a departure for Hitch as usually he's dealing with psychological plot-lines and complex, very emotional murderers. This time it's an uncontrollable force of nature relentlessly wreaking terror on regular people. But he does it with the grace and prowess that only he could.

Tippi Hedren (whose birthday it is today) walks her way into an extraordinary screen presence. She has the same amazing presence in Marnie, but she manages to create it by doing relatively little. She does play a similar part in both, but she does it very well. I'm not fully convinced by her accusations about6 Hitchcock's alleged harassment and stalking. It seems unlikely coming from a man who was so loved by people such as Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Anyway. That just sets me on edge about her in a way.

Rod Taylor is a fabulous actor. I love him in The V.I.P.s as well - he's very brave as an actor. This part could so easily have been played very brashly and aggressively but it wasn't. He holds the film together. Let's hear it for Rod Taylor.

One thing I found very disturbing psychologically was the hand nibbling. When the terrified people of Bodego Bay try to escape from a room the birds go and nibble their hands. OUCH! AHHHHH! I was generally pretty terrified by the whole thing. I can't even explain it. No more trips to the attic for me thank you very much. Also, no more trips to seaside towns or standing near climbing frames that could possibly become a perching spot for multiple homicidal birds.



Alyssa LM said...

Hi Bette, I really enjoyed your post and it's made me want to do a rewatch. I didn't like it the first time I saw it. By the way I love your new look.

Michael O'Sullivan said...

I love THE BIRDS too and never tire of it, its a film one can watch many times, both for the nice interplay between Melanie and Mitch and the way it seems to be developing into a glossy romance, before that first bird peck ... Tippi's Melanie is so assured whether dialling the telephone with her pencil at the bird shop or coping with Lydia, while Suzanne Pleshette simmers nicely in the background. The bird attacks are amazing too.
One can see Hitch's fascination with creating the look of Melanie - the suit, the coiffed hair, bag, gloves etc. I like too how at the start she crosses that real street and then as we pass past the newsagent kiosk it changes to the set of the petshop. Its a fabulous film that simply does not look or feel 50 years old. Tippi is marvellous now too in her 80s.

Sofia said...

I'm dying to watch this, I just might do it tonight! I don't see Hitch doing that either, but whatever. The last gif on the right is a bit disturbing... I hope I don't develop a fear for birds after watching this.

Not really the point, but I love love love her fur coat.

upgreated said...

The crow is too thirsty of blood!!!ALL DRAMA Serials

silverscreenings said...

I second Sofia's comment - it is a great fur coat. Tippi has a fab wardrobe in this movie.

I find I can't watch this movie too often because I find the birds' behaviour so disturbing.

Oh, and great post! :)

Anonymous said...

Rod Taylor was fantastic in this movie. I wish Hitchcock had used him more as a leading man. He would have been perfect with Tipi in "Marnie" instead of Sean Connery (who always seemed a bit of a bully to me in that film). I will have to watch it again soon; or should I say "swoon"...."

Bette said...

I love how this comments section is turning into a Tippi's fur coat appreciation page :) haha x


My favorite Hitchcock film. Pure cinema. No musical score, which I understand was Bernard Herrmann's suggestion. It gave me nightmares when I first saw it as a kid, and it's still effective! Thanks for your really nice posting on the superb film.

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