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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
Suzanne Pleshette wanted to play Melanie, but settled for the role of Annie because the opportunity of working with Alfred Hitchcock interested her. The part was originally written as a middle-aged schoolteacher who just lived in the community, but Hitchcock revised the script specifically for Pleshette, making the character much younger and adding backstory and depth. Hitchcock enjoyed working with her so much that he asked her to play Sean Connery's sister-in-law in his next film Marnie (1964). Pleshette, who thought of herself as a leading lady rather than in supporting roles, quipped "Is the sister's name Marnie? I don't think so! I don't think that's the lead!". See more »
After Melanie is attacked upstairs, the "blood" on her face is obviously just painted on, with no evidence of actual scratches. It's especially noticeable when the "blood" is being wiped off in a closeup. See more »
Imagine Hitchcock trying to sell this idea to the film studios: the lives of a mundane country family are shattered when vicious rooks attack. Why? No particular reason. And what then? They fly away. and then? They come back again and attack. And then go and then . .. It seems like an impossible plot to pull off, but Hitchcock does it, slowly building up the tension which spasmodically swells and subsides. Younger viewers may get irritated with the slow stealth of the opening scenes and may want to thrash the T.V. when the film comes to its beautifully droll conclusion, but form once those birds start attacking, every viewer is riveted. It was fine Hitchcockian innovation that took this very slim, cock-a-mamy story and turned in to a tense thriller. But the greatest innovation is the film score - there isn't any. No director is more closely identified with the music of their films, but in Birds, Hitchcock created a horror that is uniquely quiet. The great man appreciated something that so few others do - the atmospheric potency of silence, and how, in different settings, silences can differ in character. Yet so many who watch the film seem to forget that the music isn't there. That's the film's greatest attribute.
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