19 April 2014

The Birds (1963)
119 min.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Ruth McDevitt.
After his PSYCHO, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds remains one of the director's most well known films.

Based on a 1952 short story by Daphne Du Maurier (who had also written Jamaica Inn and Rebecca), the Master of Suspense was left with the job of fleshing out the simple story into a full-fledged script. Inspired by a 1961 true newspaper account of birds attacking humans, Hitchcock moved the action from du Maurier's Britain to northern California, cast an icy blonde in the lead role, and got to work thinking about how to visualize swarms of attacking birds.

The story is simple: Mitch (Taylor) and Melanie (Hedren) meet in a San Francisco pet shop. Taken with the dashing Mitch, the fiery and independent Melanie pursues him back to his sleepy coastal hometown of Bodega Bay. There, the two resume their budding romance. But it seems nature has more diabolical plans for them. Birds of all shapes and sizes begin to turn on humans, viciously attacking them, causing terrible accidents...and killing them. Can Melanie, Mitch, his ex-girlfriend Annie (Pleshette) or Mitch's mother Lydia (Tandy) survive the onslaught of a winged horde of killer birds?

Terrific from beginning to end, it's a testament to Hitchcock's genius that a premise which must have sounded a bit odd on paper is given wonderfully electric life on film. Beautifully shot, and superbly acted (Hedren and Taylor have great chemistry together, while Pleshette is underrated here), The Birds is required viewing material, hands down.

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