The Birds (1963) Poster



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When audiences left the film's UK premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, they were greeted by the sound of screeching and flapping birds from loudspeakers hidden in the trees to scare them further.
Rod Taylor claims that the seagulls were fed a mixture of wheat and whiskey. It was the only way to get them to stand around so much.
The schoolhouse, in Bodega, California, has also been known to be haunted, even back during the filming. According to Tippi Hedren, the entire cast was spooked to be there. She also mentioned how she had the feeling, while there, that "the building was immensely populated... but there was nobody there." When Hitchcock was told about the schoolhouse being haunted, according to Hedren, he was even more encouraged to film there.
Tippi Hedren was required to really slap Doreen Lang, who played the hysterical mother that called Melanie "evil." Hedren was hesitant, having never slapped anyone before, but Lang convinced her to do it.
The sound of reel-to-reel tape being run backward and forward was used to help create the frightening bird squawking sounds in the film
Melanie wears the same green suit throughout the movie, so Tippi Hedren was provided with six identical green suits for the shoot.
Alfred Hitchcock saw Tippi Hedren in a 1962 commercial aired during the Today (1952) show and put her under contract. In the commercial for a diet drink, she is seen walking down a street and a man whistles at her slim, attractive figure, and she turns her head with an acknowledging smile. In the opening scene of the film, the same thing happens as she walks toward the bird shop. This was an inside joke by Hitchcock.
Tippi Hedren's daughter Melanie Griffith was given a present by Alfred Hitchcock during the filming: a doll that looked exactly like Hedren, eerily so. The creepiness was compounded by the ornate wooden box it came in, which the young girl took to be a coffin.
The classic scene in which Tippi Hedren watches birds attacking the townsfolk was filmed in the studio from a phone booth. When Melanie opens the phone-booth door, a bird trainer had trained gulls that were taught to fly at it. Surviving photos of the shooting of the scene were published in the book "Hitchcock at Work" by Bill Krohn.
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?"
The crow that sits on Alfred Hitchcock's shoulder in all of the promo photos was not in the movie. It was purchased after the movie had wrapped. A studio staff member bought it when he spotted the tamed bird on the shoulder of a 12-year-old boy walking down the street. The boy was offered about $10 but was hesitant until he discovered why it was needed.
Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird in one of the shots.
A scene in the film shows a service station where a bird knocks over an attendant filling a car with gas. The gas flows across the street where a man lighting his cigar proceeds to drop the match igniting the gas. The fire follows the gas stream back to the pump and explodes. The service station was located across from "The Tides" restaurant and pier. In reality this service station did not exist at the time of the filming. However, several years later a service station was built and is still located at the spot shown in the film.
The schoolhouse in the film is the Potter Schoolhouse, which served Bodega, California, from 1873 to 1961. The building is now a private residence.
The use of standard blue screen techniques for doing matte shots of the birds proved to be unacceptable. The rapid movement of the birds, especially their wings, caused excessive blue fringing in the shots. It was determined that the sodium vapor process could be used to do the composites. The only studio in America that was equipped for this process was the Walt Disney studio. Ub Iwerks, who had become the world's leading expert on the sodium vapor process, was assigned to this production.
When the film aired on NBC-TV in the US on January 6, 1968 it became the highest rated film shown on television up to that point. The record held until Love Story (1970) overtook it on October 1, 1972.
Tippi Hedren donated her script from The Birds to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. (Smithsonian Magazine. August 2008, pg. 28)
Alfred Hitchcock kept a graph in his office, charting the rise and fall of the bird attacks in the film.
In one of the first scenes, Tippi Hedren can be seen crossing the street to the pet shop. As she does, she disappears behind a sign for a moment and reappears on the other side. Alfred Hitchcock so hated working on location that he used this moment to seamlessly cut to a studio shot.
The movie features 370 effects shots. The final shot is a composite of 32 separately filmed elements.
When Lydia discovers Dan Fawcett, on the wall behind her is a drawing of the gas station explosion by Albert Whitlock.
Before the release of the film, Tippi Hedren was featured on the cover of Look magazine with the caption "Hitchcock's new Grace Kelly."
Hitchcock revealed on The Dick Cavett Show (1968) that 3,200 birds were trained for the movie. He said the ravens were the cleverest, and the seagulls were the most vicious.
The automobile driven by Tippi Hedren is an Aston Martin DB2/4 drop-head coupe.
This was the first film to carry the Universal Pictures name after dropping the Universal-International name.
The famous poster art for the film where a woman is pictured screaming is not Tippi Hedren but is in fact Jessica Tandy taken from the scene where the birds come down the chimney.
Alfred Hitchcock briefly considered Cary Grant for the role of Mitch Brenner, but decided against using the hugely expensive actor because he felt the birds and the Hitchcock name were the big attractions.
Tippi Hedren's age was listed as 28 in press releases when the film came out, an unsurprising fabrication considering 33 was especially old for a Hollywood starlet making her acting debut. 1935 would be her commonly reported birth year for the next four decades until Hedren herself put a stop to it by coming out with her real age.
Costume designer Edith Head referred to Tippi's suit's shade of green as "Eau de Nil" (Nile water).
Also attending the London premiere were two flamingos, 50 red cardinals and starlings, and six penguins.
The screenwriter for "The Birds", Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain, wrote a short book "Me and Hitch" about his successful collaboration with Hitch on "Birds" and his "not so much" experience with Hitchcock on their next movie, "Marnie". The book is no longer in print, but available as an e-book.
The song the children are singing at the school as the crows mass outside is known as "Risseldy Rosseldy", an Americanized variation of the Scottish folk song "Wee Cooper O'Fife"
Although there is no musical score for this film, composer and Alfred Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann is credited as a sound consultant.
Actress Veronica Cartwright celebrated her 13th birthday during the filming of this film (April 20, 1962).
In the The Birds II: Land's End (1994), Tippi Hedren does not play her character in this film of Melanie Daniels but a character named Helen.
In May 2001, the son of "The Birds" novelist Daphne Du Maurier reported that he and his wife were being terrorized by seagulls nesting outside their cottage in Cornwall, England.
Alfred Hitchcock approached Joseph Stefano (screenwriter of Psycho (1960)) to write the script, but he wasn't interested in the story. The final screenplay (from a Daphne Du Maurier short story) was written by Evan Hunter, best known to detective-story fans under the pen name Ed McBain.
Although it was never shot, another ending was scripted by Evan Hunter and sketched by Harold Michelson. The script and sketches appear as a bonus feature on the DVD version.
At 29:20 Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) holds the cotton ball against her wound. The way her hand and forearm are positioned makes the appearance of a bird and the ring on her pinky represents the eye. Tippi Hedren confirms this and said that Alfred Hitchcok wanted to put subtle meanings throughout the film about the upcoming bird attack.
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!"
Daphne Du Maurier's story "The Birds" was originally purchased for use on Alfred Hitchcock's television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955).
According to Norman Lloyd, it was Bernard Herrmann's idea not to use music.
Hitchcock says he based the character of the drunken philosopher in the bar, played by Karl Swenson, on his friend Sean O'Casey.
(26 May 2012) The actual green suit worn by Tippi Hedren in the movie was showcased at Ireland's "Museum of Style Icons" in Newbridge (Co. Kildare) as part of the permanent collection at the center. In Ireland for the very first time, Hedren made a personal appearance at the event for the special occasion.
There is no musical score for the film except for the sounds created on the mixtrautonium, an early electronic musical instrument, by Oskar Sala, and the children singing in the school.
According to Tippi Hedren, she signed a seven year contract with Alfred Hitchcock to work in "The Birds" before she even met him. She thought he meant to feature her in Hitch's TV series, but he flew in Martin Balsam to do screen tests of her in scenes from Rebecca (1940), Notorious (1946), and To Catch a Thief (1955).
Voted seventh-scariest movie of all time by a poll carried out on the British public by Channel 5 and "The Times" in 2006.
Alfred Hitchcock considered Sean Connery for the role of Mitch Brenner. He did cast Connery in his next film Marnie (1964).
Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Evan Hunter considered Audrey Hepburn for the role of Melanie Daniels.
Alfred Hitchcock disliked filming on location, so he filmed as much as possible in the studio on-set.
Cast member Doodles Weaver was the uncle of actress Sigourney Weaver, who worked with Veronica Cartwright in Alien (1979), and with Tippi Hedren's daughter, Melanie Griffith, in Working Girl (1988).
In the film, it appears as if the schoolhouse is within the bay town limits. The frightened children are clearly shown running downhill toward the town and the water. In real life, the schoolhouse used for those shots is located five miles southeast and inland of Bodega Bay in the separate township of Bodega, California.
Some viewers found the age gap between Mitch and Cathy unrealistic for two full-blooded siblings. In fact, the scenario is totally feasible, since their mother is played by Jessica Tandy who would have been 20 years old when her character gave birth to Rod Taylor and 39 when she had Veronica Cartwright nineteen years later. (Even so, it is still somewhat odd that this isn't addressed.)
Originally, a scene took place between Melanie and Mitch after Lydia Brenner left for the Fawcett farm. This scene was shot but ultimately cut from the film. All that survive are the script pages and some production photographs. The script pages and photographs appear as a bonus feature on the DVD version the movie.
The production design makes much use of the color green.
Tippi Hedren's character plays "Deux Arabesques" by Claude Debussy (1888) while at the Brenner house for dinner.
Screenwriter Evan Hunter had Anne Bancroft in mind to play Annie Hayworth.
In 2007, a remake with Naomi Watts starring and Martin Campbell was announced but never materialised.
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This was not the first dramatization of Daphne Du Maurier's short story. It was previously adapted for radio at least twice, once starring Herbert Marshall, and again in 1954. Furthermore, it was adapted by writer James P. Cavanagh for a half-hour episode of the TV series Danger (1950). Cavanaugh also wrote at least five episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955), including two directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and was the first writer to adapt Robert Bloch's novel of Psycho (1960) for Hitchcock's production. However, his script was jettisoned in favor of the Joseph Stefano adaptation.
One of the little girls at Cathy's birthday party who walks and stands by the door was played by Suzanne Cupito. She later changed to her stage name, Morgan Brittany. Dallas (1978) fans may remember her as Pamela Ewing's evil half-sister, Katherine Wentworth.
Filming began on March 5, 1962 and was completed on July 10, 1962.
Shortly before he died, the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa created an unranked, chronological list of the films he considered the 100 greatest of all time. (However, because he deliberately limited himself to only one film per director, it is actually more of a "greatest directors" than a "best films" list.) The single Hitchcock film that he chose to include was _The Birds (1963)_. In his accompanying commentary, he noted that the sight of so many birds massed together caused him to feel "dread" and wondered how Hitchcock had managed to shoot those scenes.
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Since The Birds (1963) never had an original score, Fenton band/orchestra teacher Andrew David Perkins composed an arrangement of music to be played during a showing of the film.
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The final draft of the script describes Melanie Daniels as "mid-twenties" and Annie Hayworth as "thirty-two." Ironically, during filming (in 1962) Tippi Hedren was 32 and Suzanne Pleshette was 25.
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Dinard , France, hosts a British Film Festival, with a Golden Hitchcock as the prize. There is also a statue of Alfred Hitchcock (standing on what appears to be a very large egg, and with birds on each shoulder) near the beach in Dinard. The statue is moved down to the beach for the actual festival.
Alfred Hitchcock screen-tested Sandra Dee for the role of Melanie Daniels.
Hitchcock originally wanted Farley Granger for the role of Mitch Brenner but he was unavailable because of theatrical commitments.
According to her autobiography, Jill Ireland auditioned for the role of Melanie Daniels.
The headline in the Aug. 18, 1961 edition of the Santa Cruz Sentinel screamed "Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes" and detailed how "millions" of migrating birds crashed into cars and buildings, broke TV antennas, streetlights, and actually tried to enter houses. When residents went outdoors at 3 a.m. to investigate, the birds flew at the flashlight beams and drove residents back into their houses. Although Hitchcock had optioned the DuMaurier story in 1955, he began filming "The Birds" shortly after reading about the 1961 attack.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Costars Suzanne Pleshette and Veronica Cartwright both went on to have recurring guest roles on the series Will & Grace (1998)
Voted one of the scariest movies of all time, Veronica Cartwright would appear as the mother in the prologue Scary Movie 2 (2001) which saw her spoofing another film considered the scariest film of all time: The Exorcist (1973).
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Tippi Hedren was born January 19 and Suzanne Pleshette died January 19.
Alfred Hitchcock would constantly make puns and double-entendres on the set. The last straw came when Suzanne Pleshette asked him if she could add a line and he replied "You mean, Sweet Adeline?" She reacted by tackling the director, and dictating "If you continue this, you are gonna pay the price." According to Suzanne in a 2006 interview with Stephen J. Abramson, "People were SHITTING" when they saw her run him down.
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Universal Pictures production number 6590.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Hitchcock's legendary attention to detail was evident during research and preparation for "The Birds". He had every resident of Bodega Bay photographed for the costume department. The restaurant scenes were filmed inside an exact reconstruction of the actual one in the seaside village. The interior of Dan Fawcett's farmhouse was also an exact replica of a nearby farm. Hitchcock also sent a camera crew to the San Francisco landfill to film seagulls diving, perching and feeding so he would obtain the most realistic results for the bird attacks and build-ups in the movie.
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Director Cameo 

Alfred Hitchcock: At the start of the film walking two dogs out of the pet shop (the dogs were actually his own, white terriers named Geoffrey and Stanley).


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

The scene where Tippi Hedren is ravaged by birds near the end of the movie took a week to shoot. The birds were attached to her clothes by long nylon threads so they could not get away.
The film does not finish with the usual "THE END" title because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to give the impression of unending terror.
When the children are running down the street from the schoolhouse, extra footage was shot back on the Universal sound stages to make the scene more terrifying. A few of the children were brought back and put in front of a process screen on a treadmill. They would run in front of the screen on the treadmill with the Bodega Bay footage behind them while a combination of real and fake crows were attacking them. There were three rows of children and when the treadmill was brought up to speed it ran very fast. On a couple of occasions during the shoot, a number of the children in the front fell and caused the children in back to fall as well. It was a very difficult scene to shoot and took a number of days to get it right. The birds used were hand puppets, mechanical and a couple were trained live birds.
The climactic scene, in which Tippi Hedren's character is attacked in the bedroom, took seven days to shoot. Hedren said, "[It was] the worst week of my life." The physical and emotional tolls of filming this scene were so strong on her that production was shut down for a week afterward.
Near the end of the film, when Mitch carries Melanie down the stairs, it is actually Tippi Hedren's stand-in being carried by Rod Taylor. Hedren was in the hospital recovering from exhaustion after a week of shooting the scene where Melanie is trapped in the upstairs room with the birds.
Before filming the final attack scene when Melanie goes upstairs, Tippi Hedren asked Alfred Hitchcock , "Hitch, why would I do this?" Hitchcock's response was, "Because I tell you to."
A number of endings were being considered for this film. One that was considered would have showed the Golden Gate Bridge completely covered by birds.
For the scene in which Annie is killed, Suzanne Pleshette who played her told Alfred Hitchcock it would look good if her ear was all bloody and hanging off, so he sent her to the prop department. When it came to shooting the scene, Hitchcock had Annie facing the other way, so the viewer never sees the ear, which Pleshette recalled "was part of his delicious sense of humor."
In the end, when Melanie is carried outside, Mitch opens a door. There was no door used in filming, and it was all done with light effects to make it look as if Mitch opened the front door.
Hitchcock's film and the original story by Daphne Du Maurier share no characters and in fact have only in common the bay-side town setting, the bird's bizarre behavior, their inexplicable tendency to launch frenzied attacks, fall dormant only to attack again later, and the title. In Du Maurier's story the main character discovers that this pattern is directly related to the rise and fall of the tides and uses this to their advantage, as opposed to the film which seems to follow the same pattern but never makes a direct connection. Also the original story takes place in Britain and centers around a man protecting his wife and two children at their isolated cottage home, as opposed to the film which centers on the spirited but troubled city dweller Melanie Daniels who travels to the California coast on a whim.
It is never revealed why the birds started attacking people.

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