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.
Melanie Daniels is the modern rich socialite, part of the jet-set who always gets what she wants. When lawyer Mitch Brenner sees her in a pet shop, he plays something of a practical joke on her, and she decides to return the favor. She drives about an hour north of San Francisco to Bodega Bay, where Mitch spends the weekends with his mother Lydia and younger sister Cathy. Soon after her arrival, however, the birds in the area begin to act strangely. A seagull attacks Melanie as she is crossing the bay in a small boat, and then, Lydia finds her neighbor dead, obviously the victim of a bird attack. Soon, birds in the hundreds and thousands are attacking anyone they find out of doors. There is no explanation as to why this might be happening, and as the birds continue their vicious attacks, survival becomes the priority. Written by
Mitch Zanich, owner of the Tides Restaurant at the time of shooting, told Hitchcock he could shoot there if the lead male in the film was named after him, and Hitch gave him a speaking part in the movie. Hitchcock agreed: Rod Taylor's character was named Mitch Brenner, and Mitch Zanich was given a speaking part. After Melanie is attacked by a seagull, Mitch Zanich can be heard saying to Mitch Brenner, "What happened, Mitch?" See more »
When the children are running from the school while being attacked, the birds attacking them cast no shadows. See more »
Although not his final film, this was Hitchcock's final masterpiece, full of fascinating cinematic ideas, some realised better than others, but considering the difficulties he set himself in this movie, well before our time's all-pervasive CGI, most of the hundreds of trick shots work out amazingly well.
The brittle female lead was given to a strangely brittle first-timer, who acquits herself well - certainly a great deal better than she did in her (and Hitch's) next picture, MARNIE, in which the title character's complexities eluded her grasp. Melanie Daniels in THE BIRDS is much less of an acting challenge, although the role proved to be an endurance test, especially in the infamous, dazzlingly edited final bird attack.
The rest of cast do sterling work, with a substantial contribution from Jessica Tandy and a noteworthy one from Doreen Lang.
The element of the film that still feels wonderfully experimental is the soundscape of bird screeches, wing flaps and tweets. Way, way ahead of its time.
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