I just watched another Hitchcock classic: The Birds
The Birds came out in 1963 and it is classified as a thriller.
Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), a wealthy socialite cum practical joker, drives from San Francisco to Bodega Bay in an attempt to play a prank on Mitch Brenner(Rod Taylor)- a man she had just met the day before in a bird store. She manages to find out where he lives and sneaks into his house to leave a pair of lovebirds, a gift for his sister’s 11th birthday. Mitch spots her as she tries to row away in a boat. He is pleased to see her and he drives to the shore and waits for her. As she rows to shore, she is attacked by a seagull, the first of many attacks to come.
Mitch takes care of her and invites her to dinner. There she is introduced to his mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) and his little sister Cathy(Veronica Cartwright). Over the next couple of days, flocks of birds-seagulls,crows,sparrows- launch random and inexplicable attacks on the townspeople, injuring and killing some. The Brenner family and Melanie barricade themselves in the Brenner house. Another bird rampage begins and Melanie is severely injured.
The movie ends with Mitch attempting to take his family and Melanie to San Francisco, so that Melanie can receive medical attention, driving quietly so as not to disturb the birds.
This is not the best Hitchcock film I have seen but it was alright nonetheless. However I wish the film was given a proper ending. Why were the birds attacking? Why did the attacks coincide with Melanie’s arrival? I like suspense but I usually appreciate a good resolution. Don’t leave me hanging.
I expected to find out something dark about Lydia. She was acting so mysterious in the beginning, always gazing off into nothing, like in the snapshot below. I thought there was something deeper, a family secret perhaps, but was disappointed to find out nothing.
I did not really know what to make of Melanie’s character. She is definitely spontaneous, going to great lengths to prank a man she did not know. Tippy Hedren, the actress who played Melanie Daniels, did well, seeing as The Birds was her screen debut.
One character I have not mentioned is the local teacher Anne Hayworth. Like Lydia, Anne alludes to a dark secret in the Brenner household by pausing and staring ominously at Melanie several times. She reveals that she is Mitch’s ex lover but that is about it.
I did learn a few things from the film:
- When you see birds starting to gather in one spot, walk away as quietly as you can. Be careful not to make any noise or they will attack.
- Always have spare pieces of wood, some nails and a hammer ready, as you never know when you might have to barricade your windows from a bird attack.
- Barricading your windows won’t do any good, as the avian gang will peck through the wood and break into your home.
- If birds ever decide to gang up against we humans, we would not stand a chance.
Fun Fact: Tippi Hedren nearly lost an eye because Hitchcock insisted on using real seagulls in one scene. This is an excerpt from her wikipedia page:
…She was then assured that the crew would use mechanical birds. Instead, Hedren endured five solid days of prop men, protected by thick leather gloves, flinging dozens of live gulls, ravens and crows at her (their beaks clamped shut with elastic bands). In a state of exhaustion, when one of the birds gouged her cheek and narrowly missed her eye, Hedren sat down on the set and began crying.
The things people do for the sake of art. Hitchcock was a crazy man.
Side note: Those birds did not look real to me.
Look how pretty Tippi’s eyes are. #EyelashGoals