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The Birds [VHS]
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Product Description

Vacationing in northern California, Alfred Hitchcock was struck by a story in a Santa Cruz newspaper: "Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes." From this peculiar incident, and his memory of a short story by Daphne du Maurier, the master of suspense created one of his strangest and most terrifying films. The Birds follows a chic blonde, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), as she travels to the coastal town of Bodega Bay to hook up with a rugged fellow (Rod Taylor) she's only just met. Before long the town is attacked by marauding birds, and Hitchcock's skill at staging action is brought to the fore. Beyond the superb effects, however, The Birds is also one of Hitchcock's most psychologically complicated scenarios, a tense study of violence, loneliness, and complacency. What really gets under your skin are not the bird skirmishes but the anxiety and the eerie quiet between attacks. The director elevated an unknown model, Tippi Hedren (mother of Melanie Griffith), to being his latest cool, blond leading lady, an experience that was not always easy on the much-pecked Ms. Hedren. Still, she returned for the next Hitchcock picture, the underrated Marnie. Treated with scant attention by serious critics in 1963, The Birds has grown into a classic and--despite the sci-fi trappings--one of Hitchcock's most serious films. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews:

  • The Taming of the Shrew
    What a great conceit to use birds in a horror film. The potential for looming danger is ever present. On crowded urban streets people are always ducking, flinching reactively when a pigeon swoops low. Of course they never get hit - but they could. And you can imagine how unpleasant it would be to be attacked by birds - nasty, feathered guerrilla attackers, all up close pecking and sharp pinching and cutting of the skin. Bloody, and not pleasant.

    Hitchcock deploys the bird theme to magnificent sci-fi effect in this movie. Melanie Daniels pursues caddish bachelor Mitch in Bodega Bay, a small Northern Californian community. Flitting across the bay after secretly delivering some lovebirds to him, she is swooped on by a gull and pecked. Then attacks by various species of birds grow, ever stronger, more mysteriously and more dangerously. Lives are endangered, people are terrified, the homely superstitious residents of Bodega Bay look to the mysteriously icy blonde Melanie Daniels and wonder what she is doing here, and why did the attacks start when she came to town?

    This film does not end with clean, satisfactory meanings or resolutions. There are several symbolic motifs that could be explained in a number of ways. Lydia, Mitch's mother, in a way is the most curious character in the film, her role seems to parallel the bird attacks in many aspects - her hawk like suspicions, her careful guarding of Mitch and attacks on people who try to get close to him like the tragic Annie Heyworth. The famous last scene features birds rippling and gathering ominously, but they do not attack.

    What happens? Melanie seems to have been subdued, her haughty arrogance and self confidence blown away. Is she a better person? Why the bird attacks? Will they continue? This is a movie that gets under the skin, and poses more uncomfortable questions than it answers. ...more info
  • Hedren-flawed Masterpiece
    I feel a little guilty giving this, one of my very favorite films, only four stars; I would have given it four-and-a-half if that were an option, but let's face it: Tippi Hedren, a glacial knockout in the looks dept., unleashes a performance that's as overwrought as it is two-dimensional (at best). I found her "soul baring" scene with young Cathy on the hillside to be PARTICULARLY embarrassing. One can only fantasize how, let's say, a young Ellen Burstyn, would have handled the Melanie role. But hey, as far as acting goes, a superb (and rare) film performance by a middle-aged Jessica Tandy is nothing to sneeze at, and...am I the only one left on a "bird"-pecked planet that thinks Suzanne Pleshette quietly steals the show?

    To my mind, truly great horror does not feel a necessity to answer the unanswerable questions it poses. In the most effective, Malevolence, even if quashed, will leave seeds behind. In this regard, chalk up five stars for Mr. Hitchcock's brave and apocalyptic finale to a horrific masterpiece of infinite implication.
    ...more info
  • The Birds Excellent but freaky movie
    Having heard a lot about this movie I decided to check it out. The plot is Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) decides to bring some lovebirds down to Mitch (Rod Tayler) a bachelor whom she has just met in a pet shop. Melanie is a rich socialite who we get the feeling doesn't have a whole lot to do. She goes to Bogeda Bay about 60 miles from San Francisco. That's when the fun starts- if you can call it that. She is attacked by a sea gull and meets Mitchs's family- his mother played by Jessica Tandy and his kid sister. There is a love triangle going on between Mitch, the local school teacher, and Melanie.
    So Melanie meets Mitch's family- the overprotective somewhat needy mother and cute sister. So now come the bird attacks... The attacks are very realistic. Not to spoil it but there are some horrific attacks on a kid's birthday party and at a school. There is one part were the birds are massing in one spot behind Melanie who is oblivious to it. No one does suspense like Hitchcock.
    What I like is the dynamic between the characters. Mitch and Melanie form an attachment, we get to see the motivation behind Mitch's mother's actions, and all of the main characters throughout the attacks form a bond with each other by the end. Overall, an excellent movie and one I would watch more then once. ...more info
  • THE BIRDS
    The Birds is classic Hithcock with a building suspense of horror of nature hitting back at man for changing its enviroment .
    Normally bening birds are suddenly attacking in mass and species that usually do not flock together attacking together.
    best watched on a dark night in the company of a pet bird, sleep well....more info
  • ONE OF HITCH'S BEST
    It's amazing how well this classic has held up over the years. Hitchcock's use of silence to build suspense was marvelously innovative, and as usual, the pschological underpinnings of The Master's characters play a large part in adding to the tension of the plot.

    This edition boasts good color, and sound, and some fun extra's ( Tippi Hedren's screen test among them )....more info
  • Do you happen to have a pair of birds that are... just friendly?
    While this movie builds up nicely to the scenes where there are birds everyone, I have only one complaint. I thought the movie ends kind of abruptly and without really any explanation as to WHY there were so many birds around and attacking. But with that being said, the cinematography and acting in this movie are outstanding! The scenes where the birds are "hanging out" is pretty creepy and the scene where they're attacking the children is actually kind of funny (some kids are getting bombarded and get knocked over!). What's interesting with "The Birds" is that the actors aren't the usual "A" actors. There is no Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, or anybody like that. But it doesn't matter because the birds are the real stars! I guess maybe the point of the movie is that we shouldn't find out why the birds are attacking and that's why it's scarier because the birds have just gone crazy for no reason. Don't know. Anyway, this movie is still worth seeing, although I liked Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, and Rebecca better....more info
  • EEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!
    Oh my goodness! I enjoyed every minute of this terrifying movie of a horde of birds that attacks a seaside community. The scene in the phone booth scared me senseless and made me scream!!!

    I loved this movie and thought that the acting was good. A must-buy for horror movie fanatics. The only problem is the ending left you hanging....more info
  • Beware!
    Beware! The package and Amazon state, that this DVD is "Widescreen". Sadly, it is not. It is, however, still a great, classic film. Enjoy!...more info
  • The Birds
    This is my all time favorite movie. I lost my collection of DVD's to Hurricane Katrina, and am just starting to rebuild. Looking forward to finding more of my treasures on Amazon....more info
  • THERE SHOULD BE A REMAKE 9 OUT OF 10
    Despite its age, The Birds really doesn't feel cheesy most of the time, and it was made 45 years ago! The story is about a lady named Melanie who pursues a lawyer named Mitch who she met in San Francisco, and goes to find him in Bodega Bay. There she meets his family and a few other people and for a time its good and without really any problems. That is, until the birds in the town start acting strangely. Then as you probably would assume it gets worse and people start dying from being pecked to death and the birds are finding their way into houses by breaking windows, going down chimneys, and pecking their way through doors. And people begin to realize that the birds were getting smarter and are getting more bold in attacks. I'm not going to reveal anything else, you'll just have to watch this amazing movie. The only problems in this movie are only very small sequences of cheesy acting and there's no music. Though surprisingly you won't really ever notice the music's nonexistant. Some things I'm still impressed about this movie are how well the bird attacks are assembled, you still get a sense of dread, and it's actually still kinda creepy. One thing reason I know that this movie would be perfect for a remake is when I saw the infected crows attack scene from Resident Evil: Extinction, and that was played out perfectly in creepy factor. So I know that a remake of The Birds would be perfect, so what exactly is Hollywood waiting for?
    ...more info
  • Disturbing
    Made in the mid-Sixties, this film has no backing music and is shot mainly in the town of Bodega Bay, California. Melanie Daniels (Tippy Hedren) is the daughter of the publisher of "one of the larger newspapers in San Francisco" and carries, along with her two surprise lovebirds, a sense of entitlement. Mitch (Rod Taylor) is a self-assured lawyer who lives with his widowed mother and young sister in Bodega Bay.

    For some reason these characters are annoying from the get-go. Melanie is precious about her entitlement, and Mitch is a little too smirky and cold. As the horrific action progresses, we see these characters gain humanity. This is the only lift in this film. This film is masterfully filmed. The early scene of Melanie in the boat, in the middle of the bay, is especially memorable.

    Hitchcock seemed to select the location, set up the characters, and then let the mechanics roll like a well-oiled machine. As smoothly as Melanie's sports car. But he inserts his trademark sadism in this movie. People are targeted as individuals. It is almost the mass that wins -- the mass of birds gathering along the coast. It is almost the fear of the individual that Hitchcock evokes.

    The townspeople are afraid (superstitiously so) of Melanie, the gilded stranger who is so unlike them. Melanie is hinted at being a bit stunted emotionally from not having known her mother. Mitch is hinted at having had affairs he drops because of his controlling mother. The person behind the facade, the things people hide -- these are the things that Hitchcock nags at, pokes his viewers with, and in his vision, these things are ominous.

    At the end there is some assurance that "the military will be involved." Only a mass of anonymous men can fight the anonymous birds.












    ...more info
  • NOT Classic Hitch
    I watched this again, having seen it the first time many years ago, and since then, seen many superior Hitch films. I know 5 star reviews for Hitch are automatic for some, but did you pay attention at all? Even someone with a slight eye for quality could tell there is something very off about this film.

    Suspension of disbelief = There was none. Highly implausable choices by characters. Ex. We're inside, let's run OUTSIDE and get somewhere safer! Let's get the children out of here! Let's take them OUTSIDE! Tippi Hedren's character looks into the upstairs room, sees all the birds, and THEN slips INTO the room. WHAT? And Cathy with the stupid Lovebirds, can we bring them Mitch? Can we take them in a tiny, FABRIC TOP convertible to make our escape. There were two other vehicles with hard-tops in this movie.

    Cathy's monologue after being rescued from the schoolteachers house was just heavy handed and artificial.

    Why Hitch? Was it the studio? Did they have your children at gunpoint?...more info
  • Really four and a half
    Great movie. I would really love to toss it an extra little half star and make it five; and perhaps after watching it a few more times and watching some more Hitchcock thats what I ll end up doing.

    It's a great mesh of a film. More than just some tense horror, you are given a story worth discussion. Why are those damn birds attacking? For the love of God! Its really quite brilliant how it all plays out and in a lot of respects is almost two films in one. The opening half, a very mysterious love story, and of course the later half a good ole Hitchcock suspense film.

    On note of the DVD, its outstanding. Theres a terrific making of, an original trailer, deleted scene, alternate ending, and, most important for me, other actors or film lovers, Tippi Hedren's original screen test!! Very cool stuff.

    The films great and the DVD is one of the best older films in terms of extras. You gotta check it out....more info
  • I was expecting more...
    This is only my third Hitchcock movie, but I have to say that it isn't my favorite thus far. (although the other two I have seen, Vertigo and Rear Window, both deserve five stars with no questions asked)
    Rear Window is brilliant in the way it can make the viewer delight in voyeurism (you may find yourself wondering what's going on in Miss Torso's window very often...) and the brilliant level of suspense it can wring out of something as simple as a phone call.
    Vertigo is the kind of movie that should have changed the entire mystery genre, instead of becoming admired, yet ignored, by Hollywood as they churn out endless remakes and cookie-cutter movies. It can keep you watching with your eyes glued to the screen as the plot is masterfully, compellingly, and chillingly laid out only to take a sudden twist just as surprising, not to mention its technical mastery.
    The Birds, however, is just too short. That's the only flaw I'll really hold against it, because just as the movie is building up to what feels like the middle of the movie, it ends. Even more disconcerting is the fact that there was a much better ending planned which was never shot. Luckily, the storyboard and script are shown on the DVD, so we have the benefit of imagining them.
    However, if there is one contribution this film has made, which to me at least is above all others, it is this: it laid the groundwork of the zombie genre. Think about this as you watch it, and you'll realize that the famous Night of the Living Dead owes everything to it, from its sudden, mysterious onset of zombiesm, its confined environment, and even its closing scene.
    Overall, the movie is quite enjoyable, its only flaw being that it is too short. I reccommend it not only for its originality and technical mastery, but as brain food as well....more info
  • An All-Time Great From a Master
    Note: Your "helpful" votes are appreciated. Thanks

    I won't go into all the details of how the birds attack a small town. Longer reviews are best read after you see the movie, in my opinion. What I liked the most was the recapturing of rural California of the 1950. The roads, the small town, the cars, they really take you back.

    Considering the time, the special effects are really great, too.

    My favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie (a great mystery) is "Vertigo." "Vertigo" has so much to think about, and the romance is perfect. Highly recommended.

    I would recommend buying a collection. You'll find many Hitchcock movies that you'll love.
    Alfred Hitchcock The Masterpiece Collection - The Birds / Marnie / Torn Curtain / Topaz (DVD)...more info
  • Visceral Terror and Freudian Psychodrama Meld Seamlessly in Hitchcock Masterwork
    I remember as a child in the late 1960's watching this Alfred Hitchcock masterwork in the darkened family room and being terrified awaiting the next bird attack. It was great, and to my pleasure, it still is. Now that I am far more familiar with Hitchcock's filmography and realize the gamut of sophisticated drama and thrilling suspense he created in his long career, I think 1963's "The Birds" is far and away the most wonderfully visceral experience he produced onscreen. The film is one part allegory on man's impudence over nature and one part family psychodrama full of unresolved feelings, and the two parts work seamlessly together thanks to Evan Hunter's shrewd screenplay. Hitchcock recognizes that more than the technical effects he amassed to simulate the surreal, bludgeoning bird attacks, the actual storytelling is what drives the plot.

    Although the birds provide an ominous presence from the outset, it starts with a flirtatious, love-hate romance between spoiled socialite Melanie Daniels and insolent attorney Mitch Brenner. Seeking but failing to purchase a pair of lovebirds for his little sister Cathy, Mitch travels to his family home in the friendly hamlet of Bodega Bay north of San Francisco. Motivated by her attraction to Mitch, Melanie goes up to deliver the lovebirds to his home, but oddly, a seagull attacks her as she pilots a boat on the bay. This is the start of what becomes a series of attacks that increase in scope and terror, and what I appreciate about Hitchcock's style is how he manages to build to them gradually, almost nonchalantly until the moment of strike when he lets the birds take over the screen. Equally intriguing is the way the characters are presented, especially Mitch's subtly dysfunctional family, and how each reacts to the attacks.

    In a surprising twist, Hitchcock eschews the glamorous stars he usually casts for the leads, though ironically the journeyman-level contributions of Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor seem to work in the film's favor as they don't distract from the allegorical storyline. Taking over for Grace Kelly, Hedren manages to exude the sophistication if not quite the complexity of Melanie. As Mitch, Taylor has always been a lunkish presence onscreen and barely charismatic enough to elicit such fervent behavior from the women around him, but he manages the heroic sincerity necessary in the role. Far better are Jessica Tandy, who sublimates her natural likeability to play Mitch's controlling, needy mother Lydia, and a sonorous Suzanne Pleshette as repressed schoolteacher Annie who still longs for Mitch from a distance. I also love Ethel Griffies's bit as the elderly ornithologist who happens to be there to explain the genesis of the various bird species.

    Even though the matte shots look dated compared to today's seamless computer animation, the effects are still startling, and some scenes are developed brilliantly, in particular, the schoolyard accumulation leading to a direct attack on the running children. There are quirks that are a bit frustrating for their artificiality - heavy use of back-screen projection, the predictable behavior of stereotypical town folk - but none of this detracts from the superb craftsmanship and breathless pacing toward the apocalyptic ending. There are several extras included with the DVD, the best being the looking-back documentary, "All About The Birds". This represents grand execution by a true master....more info
  • you'll think twice about that chicken sandwitch
    this is hitchcock at his best and it's also his one true out and out horror movie.you know the story,birds start attacking people for no reason and before long the little seaside village of bodega bay is under attack by our fine feathered friends.the attacks are quite jarring and come when least expected. hitchcock spent 3 years getting this one made and it still chills the blood even today....more info
  • More A Series Of Set Pieces Than A Coherent Film; Fascinating Nonetheless
    Time has a way of qualifing our initial assesment of films, and this is particularly true of films made by director Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980.) Throughout the 1930s and 1940s he was regarded as a solid craftsman but not an artist; in the 1950s many of his films, most notoriously VERTIGO, were received with lukewarm interest. In the 1960s, however, attitudes about his work began to change, and with that came a major re-evaluation of his films. Films that had been earlier dismissed were recognized as great classics; some films that had received tremendous recognition at the time of their release were now seen as somewhat over-praised.

    To a certain extent this re-evaluation continues today, and at this point one film in particular proves extremely contentious to critics: THE BIRDS, which was considered both extremely innovative and a great shocker in 1963 but which is now teetering on the brink of critical dismissal. Just as it took some thirty years to fix VERTIGO's position in the Hitchcock lexicon, so may it take fifty to arrive at a final summation here.

    According to film lore, Hitchcock was intrigued by a newspaper story about a "bird attack," and his interest in the story gradually evolved into THE BIRDS. (Although technically based on the 1952 novella by Dauphne du Maurier, the story and film bear little relation to each other.) The story developed by Hitchcock and Evan Hunter concerned slightly wild San Francisco socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), who becomes infatuated with Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) and whimsically follows him to his home at Bodgea Bay as a prank. Not long after her arrival, however, she is attacked by a seagull, and although her injuries are slight she is quickly, albeit somewhat unwillingly, received by Mitch and his circle. One attack soon leads to another, and before very long Melanie, Mitch, and the entire community are under seige.

    THE BIRDS is primarily famous for the sheer number of disconcerting and often stunning set ups it creates for the birds' attacks. Two of these are particularly famous. While Melanie sits on a bench outside the grade school, her attention is attracted by a flying bird--and she turns to find the playground's jungle gym covered with crows, assembling for an attack as the children leave the school. Later, when the birds attack the town itself, Melanie is trapped in a telephone booth, a helpless witness to the horrors around her even as the birds begin to batter the glass that protects her.

    But the sheer brilliance of these set pieces is off-set by the overall film itself. Stories and scripts of Hitchcock films are usually very tight and very precise, but where THE BIRDS is concerned you could drive a Mac Truck through the gaps. It is much easier to 'suspend disbelief' re the bird attacks than it is to accept the way in which the characters behave throughout the film. This is not actually the fault of the cast, which ranges from serviceable to excellent, but rather of the way the film works (or more specifically, doesn't work) as a whole. Having made up her mind to play a prank on Mitch, how is it that Melanie can't come up with a better one? Why evacuate the children into open air instead of an interior room? Why search for the source of a sound, alone no less, when you know what the source must be?

    Hitchcock apologists tend to justify these and many other loose ends in the film by stating that THE BIRDS is intended to have an open-ended structure without resolution and that the random and often incomprehensible nature of the script is intended to reflect the random and incomprehensible nature of the bird attacks. A typical argument in favor of the film also notes that the film is driven by themes instead of plot points. Well-- maybe. But I'm an "art film" fan myself, and I can't see it.

    In the final analysis, THE BIRDS is more akin to modern ultra-commercial action and adventure films than it is to an art-film, with the action and adventure distracting you from the holes in the thing--including the fact that the film is surprising slow. Even so, while THE BIRDS has major flaws, it is so crammed with inconographic moments and visuals that it is impossible to completely dismiss the film as a commercial wallow pure and simple. At its best, THE BIRDS has an incredibly high level of artistry, and those moments really do carry the film and impress themselves in your mind in a most remarkable way. I offer my own experience as an example. I first saw THE BIRDS on television when I was a teenager, and although I thought it was entertaining enough I wasn't particularly impressed. The next morning, however, I opened the living room curtains--startled a flock of birds perched on the outside window sill--and I was scared half to death. And that's cinematic power, nothing else.

    The DVD presents the film in excellent form and includes several bonuses, most particularly Hitchcock's darkly humorous movie trailer and outlines of a deleted scene. Final comment: it's extremely uneven, but it is also extremely powerful. Recommended.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer...more info
  • Bye, Bye Birdies
    After watching "The Birds" as a schoolboy over thirty years ago, I daydreamed of feathered friends amassing stealthily on rooftops and telephone lines (when they were still above ground), as well as on playground apparatus, praying they would swoop down, suddenly and unexpectedly, through the windows and peck apart disfavored teachers and classmates so that I could flee the damnable day in satisfying glee. Very cool!

    Today, I hold a doctorate, perhaps am a little wiser, definitely a little nicer and, although I still have foul acquaintances and colleagues that I wouldn't mind seeing pecked apart, I have never been more impressed, or awed, by the Master's, Alfred Hitchcock's, unqualified brilliance in filmmaking. He is truly missed.

    The cheeky, intelligent dialog between wealthy publication heiress, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), and jaded criminal defense attorney, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), in this psychological adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's short story, establishes the sophisticated tone of the film. The protagonists meet at the counter of a tony San Francisco pet store. Melanie, the socialite prankster, presumes, rather transparently, to be a sales associate. A poor substitute for the attendant she sent away on a real task, Melanie endeavors to assist Mitch's quest to find a suitable gift for his young sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright). Mitch, who reads the tabloids, recognizes his stealthy "sales associate" and her clandestine ploys, and decides to play along--just long enough to embarrass the knockout blond in her furtive manhunt. No question, Mitch is mighty sharp--perhaps a little too sharp for a guy. He is aware that Melanie's father has rivals who have been trying to humiliate the family by mercilessly over-spinning tales of his daughter's "sordid" past, including her naked jump into Italy's Trevi Fountain. Determined not to be out-done, Melanie plots to turn the tables on the prey she so badly underestimated, scheming to personally deliver Mitch's lovebirds for his sister at their Bodega Bay retreat.

    For any man, this scenario qualifies, unequivocally, as his worst possible nightmare--infinitely scarier than the lunging gull that bloodies Melanie's scalp while motor-boating to Mitch's haunts. Who, on earth, said women are the weaker sex?

    Many believe The Birds portends the growing fear of civil unrest, encroaching socialism, and unbridled communism abroad that charged public perceptions during the cold war of the `50s and `60s. Scripts for deleted scenes and alternate endings, along with photos, supposedly support this view on the superb DVD transfer. If true, it only does so in part. More likely, the "birds of the world" that are "uniting," as referenced in the "discarded" materials, address deeply personal, social, psychological, and esoteric matters, which Hitchcock weaves into the film.

    The Birds showcases isolated and tormented souls. It exposes their personal dilemmas, fears, shortcomings, and tragic histories. Alternating cycles of volatile psychic confrontation, symbolized by the bird attacks, ingeniously frame the film's characters in sundry combinations of intense interaction. The disquietude between escalating sorties is a metaphor of the smoldering instability prowling their lives.

    Despite their material wealth and comfort, Melanie and Mitch are lonely hearts. Their lives ring hollow. Melanie has suffered unfathomable heartbreak over her mother's abandonment of the family. She inveighs on this matter with Mitch when she paradoxically asks, testily, whether the absence of a relationship is not worse than a brutal and dysfunctional one, which she knows he has endured with his widowed mother (Jessica Tandy). In a particularly provocative scene, Melanie confronts Lydia, Mitch's mother, who assails her son as an unsuitable replacement for his father to head the family. She reproaches his choice of female companions who fuel her fear of abandonment. Agonizing over her loss, she admits she envied her husband's innate ability to relate with children, contrasting it against her own failure as a mother. Despite Tandy's spectacularly introspective performance, it is Hedren, with her empathic eyes misting over, who registers the full brunt of her counterpart's anguish, concomitantly communicating her character's own emotional emptiness, while barely uttering a word. This is brilliance, pure and simple. In this face-off, Hitchcock cunningly shreds the painted veil of antagonism between the characters. We witness the void-filling birth pangs of a remarkably mature, mother-daughter relationship. All this occurs, no less, between vicious bird attacks!

    Melanie incites passive--and, at times, overt--aggression in the residents of Bodega Bay. Her encounters often are accompanied by bird attacks. She is a living psychopomp, a herald, obliquely tolerated by some, and openly reviled by others. Ironically, those who "judge" her also beg forgiveness--Hitchcock's nod to Frank Capra. Ensconced in stultifying complacency and self-absorption, two local merchants, in a memorable scene, profess to know the Brenners, yet cannot correctly name Mitch's sister. Another scene ramps-up tension between Melanie and Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), a comely schoolteacher who once harbored designs for Mitch, and is unable to leave Bodega Bay.

    No confrontation is more brutal than Melanie's sole encounter with the birds in Mitch's attic. This is an unparalleled battle of the "self," one that Melanie barely survives, and not without Mitch's intervention. Almost unnoticeably, the superficiality that once characterized their relationship has deepened into a trusting and loving dynamic. Melanie's initial indifference towards Cathy, who's wistful yearning for attention she rebuffed, gives way to an eye-opening revelation. Something devastatingly familiar urges her to fill the void in the young girl's life as a more youthful, female role model.

    Like the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes, The Birds, in the end, is not about inextinguishable conflict and devastation. Nor is it about dysfunctional families and terminal relationships--though there are tragic losses from the feathered assaults. The Birds is not a political statement. Foremost, The Birds is a film about struggled, new beginnings. Look carefully for the dove-like cloud that frames the sunbeam that pierces the twilight skies of Bodega Bay. This is a powerful metaphor of the sacred feminine pouring her spirit from the unseen heavenly realm to earth as projected light. New beginnings beget new consciousnesses, which beget new realities. Melanie's gift of the sedate, cooing lovebirds provides her with excellent therapy to recover from her own physical and psychic shock. Cathy, insisting they should not be abandoned, runs back to the house to retrieve their cage, which she jams into Melanie's roadster, now filled with the others. For the first time, the four smile at each other as they depart their decaying homestead and the carrion of Bodega Bay, as self-improved, functional travelers.
    ...more info
  • Pre-Computer Film Genius
    Technically, this one is a massive collaborative effort planned out by the great field general, ah, director, Alfred Hitchcock. It is doubtful until Cameron's Titanic that any film ever attempted a more complicated assault, and Hitch had no computer effects. His artists inked in the fabulous backgrounds when needed, a ridiculously difficult melding of negatives and ozone outlines and gives us a believable fantasy that holds up to this day.

    This would be Hitch's finest effort, but the script itself is a little too 1963ish cheese. The romance is contrived and not very believable. The meeting of Tipi and Rod Taylor in the pet shop is pure schlock. Still, they are attractive people and Tipi is wonderful in Edith Head's Jackie Kennedy green skirt suit. Tipi also sports the Vertigo style, platinum hair swirl which distracted somewhat because it appeared so stiff, as if a plastic wig. The conversations are stilted though once Tipi has met up with Rod again at his Bodega Bay house, it seems to flow better. Finally, the birds take over and the last half of the film is pure suspense and pecking.
    ...more info
  • Hit the stupid birds with a bat
    I suppose that film buffs have to choose a favorite director, and seem to have settled on the extremely overrated Alfred Hitchcock.

    This is just not that good a movie. It is interesting enough to get three stars, but not nearly good enough for four.

    I don't care very much about any of the characters. That has to diminish the impact of this movie. We don't get to know any of the characters particularly well, and what we see, we don't like. There's a playboy with a glib attitude, who is only out for some womanizing. How can we like him? There's a woman prankster, rich, without emotion, lying and playing with people. How can we like her? The only ones I can see rooting for in this movie are the birds.

    Hitchcock's direction of children is inept. Or to put it more bluntly, he sucks at directing children. Every scene with a child in it is an embarrassment. The kids are too goody goody, too well behaved, too quiet, perhaps too proper English. He seems to have forgotten that this film isn't placed in England. He seems to not know anything about how real children play and talk and react. They are just pawns used poorly in a show that really isn't about them.

    It's not very frightening either. The characters are sometimes morons. Why did the Robin Williams type male character decide to stay, rather than leave for San Francisco, when he had the chance? Why didn't he protect his family by taking them away from danger? Why did the women and children behave so helplessly and stupidly under bird attack? Why did they just fall down and cry? Are women and children that helpless? Hitchcock thinks they are, apparently. But a real woman or child would get something to whack the birds with, instead of just going into embryo position and getting pecked at.

    In any event, I'm not afraid of birds. Birds are stupid things to make a horror movie about. If you are going to make a horror movie about birds, make them scarier than they are in this movie. The movie was a failure. I wasn't frightened by the stupid birds.

    In summary, the movie was not scary enough, the characters didn't give us anyone to root for or identify with, some of the directing, involving children, was so bad as to be distracting, and this movie is lucky to get three stars for its overall interest level, because the only other choice is two stars....more info
  • Film Students Would Gain Much From Studying "The Birds"
    The Birds as a film is exceptional because of its ingenius director. I will not go into plot descriptions or anything like that. I will say that this film is enjoyable multiple times because is was so carefully planned and well constructed on so many levels. Hitchcock didn't crank films out like cookies. He took his sweet time and made real gems.

    Look at the film with fresh eyes and it begins like a screwball romantic comedy. Aren't they cute, this aloof blonde and this wisecracking man? Will they get together? And what about that smoldering brunette school teacher, Annie Hayworth? Suddenly we learn about checkered lives, past trysts, lost loves, domineering family members, bad reputations...and that's just the backstory of the main characters. Then on top of this the invasion of the birds slowly begins. Slowly. Hitch creates atmosphere and suspense with amazing prowess. Some may not care for this deliberate pace. But it works.

    Film students need to watch this. Consider when Melanie decides that she's going to have some fun with this Mitch person. She goes way out of her way, even renting a motorboat, to bring a pair of lovebirds as a gift for his younger sister. (It is a Trojan Horse because it is a symbol, but that's another analysis.) Anyway, the scene that enfolds when she carefully stalks Mitch, and takes the birdcage to the Brenner home, making sure she is not seen, is like watching a spy stealthily deliver a bomb. There is such suspense here, and it's just a lady dropping off some pets. More directors and writers could do well to pay attention to Mr. Hitchcock's work.

    This is just one scene in the film that's fascinating and expertly crafted. There are many more. Yes, the film is dated, and some call it silly, but in its time it was like Jaws. Hitch purposely stayed away from the original story by Daphne DuMaurier, allowing screenwriter Evan Hunter to create a very interesting set-up and relationships.

    It's a fun horror film that's multifaceted and fascinating....more info