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The Birds  (1963)



Cast: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
U.S. Distribution: Universal
U.S. Release Date: 3/28/63
Running Time: 1:59
MPAA Rating: Not rated (merits "PG-13" for violent content)

This could have been a nice little movie about those precious little winged wonders who soar high above the Earth and peacefully exist with one another, once and for all disproving the notion that birds of a feather flock together. Oh they do get together, but it is nothing nice and anything but peaceful for the lovely Tippi Hedren and the inhabitants of a small, quiet town along the California coast. The characters in this Alfred Hitchcock thriller seem to be thinking the same thing as the person who received the gifts in the song "The 12 Days of Christmas" - Where did all of these freakin' Birds come from?

Fans of this classic film still want to know why they came and why in the world did Melanie Daniels (Hedren) dare to go upstairs? As I watched that scene for the fourth or fifth time, I could not help but wonder what the reaction would be if The Birds was in theaters today . . . Women everywhere exclaiming, "GIRLFRIEND, DON'T GO THERE!" (a phrase which in itself is about as annoying as "The 12 Days of Christmas").

Come to think of it, nearly all fright films use this sort of scene to heighten suspense. And yet, it is rare when an expert director like Hitchcock is on the job. For about a week during filming, Hitch attached live birds to Hedren's clothing and hurled hundreds of others at his star. The result is an incredibly intense scene in which Hedren fights for her life, frantically swatting at the feathered fiends (one of which actually cut her in the face). For heaven's sake, this woman could have lost an eye!

"Man versus nature" doesn't get any better than this.

© 2000, Delton Perrodin



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D.P.

deltonp@charter.net