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.
A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
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
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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