A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.
Bruno Anthony thinks he has the perfect plot to rid himself of his hated father and when he meets tennis player Guy Haines on a train, he thinks he's found the partner he needs to pull it off. His plan is relatively simple. Two strangers each agree to kill someone the other person wants disposed of. For example, Guy could kill his father and he could get rid of Guy's wife Miriam, freeing him to marry Anne Morton, the beautiful daughter of a U.S. Senator. Guy dismisses it all out of hand but but Bruno goes ahead with his half of the 'bargain' and disposes of Miriam. When Guy balks, Bruno makes it quite clear that he will plant evidence to implicate Guy in her murder if he doesn't get rid of his father. Guy had also made some unfortunate statements about Miriam after she had refused him a divorce. It all leads the police to believe Guy is responsible for the murder, forcing him to deal with Bruno's mad ravings. Written by
"Lets swap Murders- your wife, my father"- seemingly innocent conversation between two strangers - Bruno Anthony and Guy Haines when they meet over lunch on a train journey. Guy, a solid, respectable tennis player, whose problem is that his wife, the flirtatious Miriam, won't divorce him so he can marry senators daughter Anne, laughs the whole conversation off as a joke. The following week he isn't laughing any more. In a scene of classic Hitchcock suspense, Bruno stalks Miriam through a carnival and strangles her. As he does, her glasses fall off and we see the murder eerily reflected twice through her lenses. Cold hearted and amoral Bruno, his part of the deal completed, approaches an appalled Guy expecting, even pressuring him into 'doing his bit.' Matters are not helped when Anne's precocious and outspoken younger sister turns up suspecting Guy of Miriam's murder. So accused of a murder he didn't commit and expected to commit another, what is Guy going to do? The power of this film is in the presentation of human beings as having a murderous side to their nature - and this Hitchcock does to perfection.
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