Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For the Birds

After watching The Fog, we felt like we should revisit The Birds (1963). After all, they are both set on the coast north of San Francisco, and it is October, the month of scares, climaxing on All Hallow's Eve. (Due to the long lead time of this blog, Halloween will definitely be over before I finish blogging all the scary movies we're watching).

Of course, what is there to say about Hitchcock's The Birds that hasn't already been said? It's an odd movie - a rather whimsical romantic melodrama interrupted by a surrealistic horror. That horror, attacking birds, is a little hard to grasp - are birds really that deadly, even in flocks? It seems that you'd have to work pretty hard to be killed by them. Only Hitchcock's skill can keep you in suspense.

One thing I had forgotten is that Tippi Hedren, the madcap heiress who seems to bring doom to Bodega Bay, is a practical joker. She came to play a trick on Rod Taylor, a stranger she met briefly in a Union Square pet shop. That might explain the bird attacks - a supernatural practical joke that nature is playing on the joker.

Actually, I was kind of interested in the melodrama. I liked Suzanne Pleshette's seduced and abandoned schoolteacher, and the little family dynamic of Taylor's mother and much younger sister. I wonder if it could be remade without the birds, but with the same sense of senseless foreboding.

Only by a master like Hitchcock, I suppose.


mr. schprock said...

"It seems that you'd have to work pretty hard to be killed by them."

I've always thought that the larger wild birds are fierce and scary. I think nine or ten crows working as a team could do a pretty good job on me.

The author of "Rebecca" wrote the short story the movie is based on. Daphne du-something or other. I read it a long time ago. Different from the movie and (so I thought at the time) quite feasible.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

I've heard that a goose can be pretty scary when they come at you. I just don't believe it.