Logline: A small coastal town in California called Bodega Bay is terrorized by birds who are attacking for no apparent reason.
Review: When I first saw The Birds as a young boy, it genuinely frightened me and introduced me to the world of Alfred Hitchcock, a filmmaker whose work I have been exploring ever since. The Birds is perhaps my personal favorite Hitchcock and a fascinating film on so many levels.
The Birds followed in the wake of Psycho (1960), Hitchcock’s most successful film at the box office. Both Psycho and The Birds hold the distinction of being Hitchcock’s only true horror films and both are among his finest works.
The Birds is Hitchcock’s ultimate statement of order and chaos, a compelling study of human relationships and the need to be loved. There are so many iconic scenes in the film. Highlights include the sequence at the restaurant in which Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and several townspeople discuss the bird attacks and the film’s final moments inside the Brenner home, which acts as a metaphorical birdcage. My favorite scene, though occurs when Melanie sits outside the school while, unbeknownst to her, crows mass on the jungle gym behind her. The scene is pure Hitchcock and an example of his genius.
The acting in the film is superb with Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Veronica Cartwright in key roles. The true star of the film though is Tippi Hedren, who makes her film debut as Melanie. Featured in virtually ever scene, Hedren is fantastic and is one of the most beautiful actresses to have ever graced the silver screen. Hedren would top her performance in The Birds in Hitchcock’s following film, Marnie (1964) in which she plays the title role.
I had the fortune and honor of meeting Tippi when I went to Bodega Bay, California to see where one of my favorite films of all time had been shot. By pure coincidence, the eight-five year old actress was in town for an appearance and autographing. She was very kind and I was completely awestruck from the encounter.
A couple of days later, I had to watch The Birds again. I was completely enamored by Tippi who steals nearly every scene in the film. One thing is certain. Tippi Hedren is a legend of the silver screen and The Birds will be forever hers.
The Birds is one of Hitchcock’s best films and it can be enjoyed on so many different levels. Admittedly, some of the film’s special effects have not aged well but that does not change the fact that The Birds is a masterpiece.
Note-See the following link for my analytical piece on The Birds.