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.
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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
An old friend, the late State Senator Ted Gill, of Holyoke, Colorado, once told me that The Birds was the last movie he ever saw. He gave up movies after seeing this flick...they were just getting too weird and disturbing for an old rancher like him. It's still pretty terrifying, even if you've seen it again and again. You know what bad, brutal scenes are coming and don't want to see the carnage again, but can't help yourself. It's ominous as the crows flock tighter and tighter, always more and more, on the schoolyard Monkey-Bars and it's also exciting to see the school kids chased down by the crows a few minutes later. Subplots like the pitiful neurosis of Lydia Brenner, Mitch & Annie's lost-love-affair, Mitch's indifference to the needs of others, and the poor-little-rich-girl Melanie, who still just wants her mommie, are all well-written and acted. Loved best by me is Hitchcock's humorous characters who are CHARACTERS! The old drunk at the bar quoting Holy Scripture, the nosy neighbor done wonderfully by Richard Deacon, the dowdily-dressed old intellectual in the cafe buying her cigarettes and evidently a scientific expert for any field. Sir Alfred's macabre touches of comedy are unmatched, even in today's thrillers. I'm repulsed and attracted by such scenes as the one in the farmhouse, where Jessica Tandy discovers an old friend pecked to death, with his eye sockets bloody and empty. I find myself still searching for gory details on the farmer's body because Hitch didn't let the camera dwell on the horrible face too long. But he DID give us two rapid jump-cuts with closer and closer close-ups, and we end up seeing just as much detail as Jessica just did - enough to know that "We gotta git outta there!" Overall, a fine time. 119 minutes of revolting fun!
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