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The Birds (1963)

PG-13 | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | 29 March 1963 (USA)
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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.

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(from the story by), (screenplay by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Mitch Brenner
... Lydia Brenner
... Annie Hayworth
... Melanie Daniels (as 'Tippi' Hedren)
... Cathy Brenner
... Mrs. Bundy
... Sebastian Sholes
... Mrs. MacGruder
... Deke Carter
... Traveling Salesman at Diner's Bar
... Fisherman Helping with Rental Boat
... Deputy Al Malone
John McGovern ... Postal Clerk
... Drunken Doomsayer in Diner
... Mitch's City Neighbor
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Birds is coming! See more »


Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 March 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$11,403,529
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (uncredited)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This was the first film to carry the Universal Pictures name after dropping the Universal-International name. See more »

Goofs

While chatting, Annie leans against Melanie's car after they have just met. Melanie thanks Annie and speeds off. In the next shot and while Melanie has clearly left, Annie seems to just having left her prop and stands on her feet again. Also the car sound can be heard in a distance. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Melanie Daniels: Hello there, Mrs. MacGruder.
Mrs. MacGruder, pet store clerk: Oh, hello, Miss Daniels.
Melanie Daniels: Have you ever seen so many gulls? What do you suppose it is?
Mrs. MacGruder, pet store clerk: Well, there must be a storm at sea, that can drive them inland, you know. I was hoping you'd be a little late because he hadn't arrived yet.
Melanie Daniels: Oh, but you'd said three o'clock...
Mrs. MacGruder, pet store clerk: Oh I know, I know. I've been calling all morning. Oh, Miss Daniels you have no idea. They are so difficult to get, really they are. We have to get them from India, when they're just baby chicks,...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

During the credits are at the beginning, sound effects from the film are shown. See more »

Connections

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Le contrôle de l'univers (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Arabesque no. 1 in E
(1888) (uncredited)
Claude Debussy
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Seaside gulls go mental in Hitchcock's macabre masterpiece!
29 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

Despite spending most of his career within the realms of the thriller genre, Alfred Hitchcock hasn't restricted himself where variation is concerned. Most of his best work represents a different type of thriller, and The Birds is no different. It is often said that Psycho is Hitchcock's first foray into the horror side of the thriller, and it is indeed; but it's not the complete horror film that The Birds is. Often cited as an obvious influence for Night of the Living Dead, The Birds follows Melanie Daniels as she travels to the seaside town of Bodega Bay with a pair of lovebirds for Mitch Brenner, an eligible bachelor that she met in a pet shop in San Francisco. However, while there the birds of the coastal town begin to attack the residents and so begins a terrifying tale of man's feathered friends waging a war against humanity...

It could be said that the plot of The Birds is ridiculous, and it is. The idea of birds, a type of animal that isn't aggressive, attacking humans despite living with us for millions of years is preposterous and is never likely to happen. However; it is here where the film's horror potency lies. Birds live with us in harmony; we're so used to them that for the most part we don't even realise that they're there, and the idea of something that we don't notice suddenly becoming malicious is truly terrifying. Especially when that something is unstoppable, as the birds are portrayed as being in this film. The fact that the birds' motive is never really explained only serves in making it more terrifying, as it would appear that somewhere along the line they've just decided to attack. Of course, the film could be interpreted as having Melanie's arrival, or the presence of the lovebirds as the cause for it all; but we don't really know. This bounds the film in reality as if there was a reason given, it might be improbable; but there's no true reason given (although there are several theories), so it can't be improbable!

The first forty minutes of the film feature hardly any - if any - horror at all. Hitchcock spends this part of the movie developing the characters and installing their situation in the viewers' minds, so that when the horror does finally come along, it has a definite potency that it would not have had otherwise. In fact, at first the birds themselves come across as a co-star in their own movie as there are brief references towards them, but they never get their full dues. However, once the horror does start, it comes thick and fast. Hitchcock, the master craftsman as always, uses his famous montage effects and never really shows you anything; but because you're being bombarded with so many different shots, you'd never realise it. Many people have tried to copy this technique, but most have failed. Hitchcock, however, has it down to an art and this is maybe the film that shows off that talent the best. There are numerous moments of suspense as well, many of which are truly nail biting. We see the birds amassing and ready to strike - but they don't. And this is much more frightening than showing an attack from the off. Hitchcock knows this. The final thirty minutes of The Birds is perhaps the most thrilling of his entire oeuvre. First, Hitchcock gives us an intriguing situation where numerous inhabitants of the town give their views on the events, and also explains the birds' situation with humans, even giving the audience an angle of expertise from an ornithologist's point of view. He then follows it up with a truly breathtaking sequence of horror that hasn't been matched since for relentless shock value.

Hitchcock has made many great films, and this certainly stands up as one of them. Here, Hitchcock gives a lesson in film directing and creates a truly macabre piece of work in the process. I dread to think what the state of cinema would have been if Hitchcock had never picked up a camera, but luckily for us; he most certainly did.


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