“It is mankind rather who insists upon making it difficult for life to exist on this planet.”
Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is a rich brat. Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) is a criminal defense attorney. Mitch walks into a pet shop looking for a gift for his kid sister Cathy (Veronica Cartwright). Mitch sees Melanie in the pet shop. Knowing who she is and her reputation he pretends he thinks she is a sales clerk and asks her about getting a pair of love birds as a gift. When she finds out that he was playing a practical joke and making fun of her she gets pissed and decides to get even. Plus she’s attracted to him and this is her way of flirting. She purchases a pair of love birds and hikes on over to Mitch’s family home about an hour and a half out of San Francisco in Bodega Bay, birds in hand. My favorite comedic part was when Melanie is driving to Bodega Bay and apparently speeding around the corners. At least enough that the birds, sitting side by side in their cage, lean right or left depending on if it’s a right hand corner or left hand corner.
She rents a motorboat and put-puts over across the small bay to Mitch’s house. She leaves the birds and put-puts back. On the way back she is attacked by a seagull. When she gets back to the dock Mitch is there. He invites her to dinner. Mitch’s mother Lydia (Jessica Tandy) is not pleased to see a beautiful blonde socialite in front of her. Having lost her husband she has focused her attention on her son. She is jealousy of any woman who shows attention to him. Cathy, on the other hand, is not tied down with any sexual complexes. She accepts Mitch’s friend with an open heart.
Deciding to stay awhile Melanie rents a room from the local school teacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), someone who at one time was also interested in Mitch, apparently the only bachelor in town.
From then on things get real weird. Birds begin to gather together in the hundreds. Then, as if on cue, they begin attacking anyone in sight. Lydia finds her neighbor dead. Pecked to death. Children at the school house are attacked. People in town are attacked. No one knows why. Mitch, his mother and sister and Melanie find themselves trapped in the house surrounded by birds, of all kinds, in the thousands. The birds are systematically attacking the house. Wanting to come in.
“The Birds” was released in 1963 and was directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock. It was loosely based on a story by Daphne du Maurier. The screenplay was written by Evan Hunter, AKA Ed McBain. Hunter is the author of dozens of police procedural mysteries. The movie contains more than 370 trick shots with birds. The majority of the birds seen in the film are real, although it is estimated that more than $200,000 was spent on the creation of mechanical birds for the film.
The first part of the movie is character set up and sexual tension that seems to permeate everyone. Hitchcock does have a tendency to protract suspense, sometimes to the point of frustration, but once the screaming starts there are a lot of frightening moments and it’s worth the wait. As with all Hitchcock movies it is loaded symbolism and it’s mostly sexual.
The plot is nonexistent. The acting is average at best. The beginning drags. The reason for anything happening is never explained and the ending isn’t. The movie just stops. But in-between the lame beginning and the non-ending is probably one of the scariest, creepiest, disturbing and grossest pictures done where all of the horror was just seconds long and your imagination took off running from there.