The Birds (1963)

The Birds
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Evan Hunter from the story by Daphne de Maurier
1963/USA
Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Annie Hayworth: Don’t they ever stop migrating?

Not my favorite Hitchcock but undeniably made by a master.

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is a rich San Francisco socialite.  As the story begins, she goes to a pet shop with the intention of buying a mynah bird for her aunt.  While there, Mitch Brenner approaches her as if she was a sales lady and asks about buying love birds.

She is clearly out of her depth but goes along with him.  It turns out Mitch knew who she was all along and was playing with her due to a dislike developed when he saw her in court.  Melanie decides she will get even by buying the love birds for him (?!) but finds she must deliver them in the small seaside town of Bodega Bay where he spends the weekends with his mother (Jessica Tandy) and younger sister (Valerie Cartwright).

Melanie continues her lying ways.  She winds up staying overnight in the house of local teacher Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) who is still carrying a torch for Mitch after a failed love affair years previously.  By all movie logic, Melanie and Mitch must fall in love and they do.  But their romance does not amount to a hill of beans next to an unexplained phenomenon which is causing birds to mass together and become killing machines.

I’ve been considering why I have never really warmed to this movie.  I think it’s because the characters do not appeal to me.  I find both Melanie and Mitch to be almost insufferably smug.  Really the only character I really like in the movie is Pleshette’s.

That said, there’s some very effective horror to be had here.  It probably works best the first time around.

The Birds was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects.

 

7 thoughts on “The Birds (1963)

  1. This is my favorite Hitchcock. I’ve seen it so many times. More than ten, I’m sure. Over the last few years, I’ve tried to watch it over the Thanksgiving holiday week at some point. I didn’t get around to it last year, but I have it on the DVR and I plan to watch it over the next two or three days.

    I’ve seen all of Hitchcock’s feature films except Mary and two or three of his silent films. My top five would be The Birds, Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt, Dial M for Murder and Rear Window.

    • Enjoy! There’s a lot to like about The Birds. I just like early Hitch better.

      Don’t hold me to it but my top five as of today are Notorious, The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, and Shadow of a Doubt. So many good ones to choose from!

  2. There’s a lot to like with The Birds, but it’s not a perfect film by any stretch. It is interesting to see Hitchcock veer a little bit into real gore. He never quite gets there with Psycho, but he certainly does here.

    It’s clearly one of his more influential films, but it might just barely make my top-ten.

  3. I think we agree on being a bit apprehensive about The Birds.
    Though my reservation is not so much with the characters as that I am not really sure where Hitch wished to go with with movie. The birds themselves are unexplained and the realation between Mitch and Melanie is thin at best. Bottomline, it seems that the only purpose is to place some people in a scary situation and see what they do. It does that well enough, but is it enough for a Hitchcock movie?

    • If Hitchcock was trying to give us his take on the late 50’s giant creature film, he made one of the best! But I expect more from him. I’ve seen this multiple times and this time it seemed like all I could notice on this viewing was the many gaps in logic.

      By the way, when I was recommending off-list film I hadn’t yet rewatched Satyajit Ray’s The Big City. I think you would absolutely love it. Fantastic …

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