Sunday, November 7, 2010

396. The Birds (1963)

Running Time: 120 minutes
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Written By: Evan Hunter, from story by Daphne Du Maurier
Main Cast: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Veronica Cartwright, Suzanne Pleshette


Another Hitchcock movie that Netflix finally makes available and ships out to me, "The Birds", sees Alfred Hitchcock turn yet another silly sounding plot into movie gold.

Melanie Daniels (Hedren) is browsing in a pet store one day when in walks Mitch Brenner (Taylor). Mitch, thinking that Melanie works at the pet store, asks her to help him find two love birds for his sister Cathy (Cartwright). Melanie leads him to believe that she works there, yet doesn't know exactly what a love bird is and eventually her cover is blown. Mitch admits that he actually knew who she was from a previous encounter. Enraged, yet intrigued, by the prankster, Melanie gets his license plate number and ultimately locates his address. Picking up a set of love birds to give to him, she makes her way to his apartment, where she is told by a neighbor that he spends every weekend at Bodega Bay. Determined to deliver the love birds to Mitch, Melanie drives to Bodega Bay and locates the home of Mitch Brenner, where she delivers the birds and tries to make a quick getaway, without being spotted. As she travels by boat, back across the harbor to shore and ultimately out of Bodega Bay, she is attacked by a seagull, which nips at her forehead and causes her to bleed and also causes her to be seen by Mitch. The two meet up on the shore and Mitch invites Melanie to visit him at his home, where he lives with his sister and mother Lydia (Tandy). Over the course of a couple of days Mitch and Melanie grow fonder of each other, but seemingly there is something wrong with the birds on Bodega Bay, as they've resorted to constant attacks on the townspeople. The attack that finally raises the suspicions and the fears of the town is the attack on the school, as the birds chase screaming kids down the street.

Today my wife decided to watch "The Birds" with me and when it finished, I asked her what she thought of it. She expressed her disappointment that there was never a reason given for the bird attacks in the movie. We got into a friendly debate about the subject, with her stretching the fact that without reason for the bird attacks, then the movie just doesn't intrigue her as much and that for it to be effective for her, there would HAVE to be reasoning behind the motives of the birds. I argued back that the reason isn't the issue here and what we're really dealing with is a survival movie and that as long as the main characters can fend off the bird attacks and keep on surviving, that is what matters. I also argued that no reason could ever really be given, because it's not as if the birds could actually talk and explain their motives. We shot back and forth, but in the end I couldn't convince her and ultimately she only found the film to be mediocre.

I, however, loved the movie and had a hell of a lot of fun with it. The shots were brilliant, the ending was as suspenseful as it gets and tomorrow when I venture outside to head off to work, I'll certainly be keeping my eye to the sky, on the lookout for bird attacks ;) In all honesty, how can you look at a bird the same after watching this piece of Hitchcock horror? I mean, we all certainly have enough sense to realize that we're not under any threat from the birds, but certainly just seeing a bird skip around your front yard would make you think of "The Master of Suspense" and his 1963 film. I've always found interest in survival movies and this one can kind of be compared to "Night of the Living Dead", where the undead rise from their graves to attack the living. It's basically the same plot, we're just dealing with birds instead of zombies.

If there is anything about "The Birds" that needs to be explained, it's why does Melanie travel to Bodega Bay, buy love birds, take a boat across the harbor, all for a man that she says she "loathes"? It was a bit of a head scratcher and actually took me out of the film for a little bit toward the beginning. That is, until we got into the bird attacks and the survival focus and then I was able to forget about Melanie's intentions and worry about the birds'.

RATING: 8/10 Yet another great movie from Hitchcock, as THE MAN takes another definitive step toward becoming one of my favorite directors of all time.


November 7, 2010 7:52pm


  1. Good morning Movie man..
    Glad you like 'The Birds'
    Hitch frequently uses 'plot devises' that don't really stand up to deep investigation dosn't he? I can see that would irritate people, but I would agrue along side you that in this case it is not necesary. I would go even further, and say not knowing why adds to the intrigue... The film, or rather the end bit, takes place over a short period of time. The protagonists are shoked by the tirn of events, and the speed. They don't know why it happened, and that adds to their shock and fear. So why should we be privilaged with the answer? No, reason not needed - we share the fear, as something nasty happening to us is bad, when we dont know why, its worse (Partly because if we are mystified 'why', we cannot do anything about it)

  2. I agree Ray, not knowing makes the situation worse.


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