3.22.2011

MCW: Best Hitchcock Movie

It's "The Birds".

Its by far the best of his work visually. Some of the best angles in all of his movies happen here, like the view of the fire at the gas station from above a seagull floating on wind...and thats all you hear is wind. In fact, there is no sound track in this movie. No music at all. But there is a ton of silence. The silence is a kind of minimalism that heightens anxiety; there is no clue to what may happen next.

The characters are not endearing. You have ice princess the de-facto Hitchcock chick, you have Man - a totally unappealing Rod Taylor, crazy clingy Mama ( how mrs. bates looked before her death and mummification one presumes)  the little girl, a know it all ornithologist (a favorite character) and sultry suzanne pleshette the ex girlfriend. Nobody is really a good person here..they are all insufferable in some way or another.


Which means I am pro-bird every time I watch this. I love that the problem isnt insanity, mistaken identity or crazy demented killer, but a creature that is completely benign and around us always. And there is no definitive reason for their attack. Oh sure, people have all kinds of theories but just like in real life, nobody actually knows. And I dont need to know why. I dont care -I just let the action wash over me like an abstract expressionist painting.


And then there is this: The Birds edition of Barbie.
Is there a north by northwest eva marie saint doll? no. How about a Janet Leigh doll with plastic shower stall accessory? nope. The chick in Spellbound? nope. Norman Bates doll? nope.

Consider this, along with how often this costume turns up at Halloween and youve got proof of an enduring masterpiece that extends its visual power into all manner of pop culture.

The Birds also has one of my favorite dark endings. No guarantees, people:


Happy MCW!

8 Comments:

Blogger Buzz Kill said...

Well, no surprise here - you and I (and Joanna) all jinxed on this one - so far. As I told JCake, Psycho is my favorite and this is 2nd favorite. I love the camera angles and that so many birds were used. I like your rooting from the birds perspective. Until you mentioned it, I never pondered how unlikeable the main characters were.

And if that Barbie is real, well that's just creepy. I'm surprised you didn't mention the mint green dress - I did. Bwahahaha

Happy MCW!

5:13 AM  
Blogger Troll said...

I haven't seen this in 40 years. About time to give it another whirl.

Happy MCW!

5:15 AM  
Blogger K9 said...

Buzz: Oh its real alright. Licensed by Mattel. The Birds Barbie. I love the mint dress -and note - it mustve been a favorite of Hitch's costumer - she put Grace Kelly in a crisp green dress suit in rear window. Psycho has the great staccato film cuts...but it has so much sound effect that in some way it doesnt have the subtle constant apprehension that the birds do.

It was a mathematical certainty that there would be jinxes this round.

Happy MCW!

Troll: what? you saw this from your crib? grherhahahaha. Give it another whirl and report back.
Happy MCW!

5:21 AM  
Blogger moi said...

Saw this for the second or third time this summer and it remains an all-time favorite. I know it's wrong, but I get such a kick from the birds terrorizing the skool kiddies. Everything you say about its appeal is spot on, and was there ever a cooler blond than Tippie? How ironic that her daughter, Melanie Griffith, turned out so va-voom. Gotta get that Barbie, though.

Happy MCW!

6:57 AM  
Blogger puerileuwaite said...

Excellent choice and review!

Here are some fun Birds factoids:

Taylor was originally supposed to die toward the end of the film, however the studio insisted that Hitch "spare the Rod".

Ever the professional, Tippi Hedren asked Hitch what her motivation was for a particular scene. Hitch replied, "Because I tell you to".

Suzanne Pleshette was supposed to wake up in bed next to Bob Newhart in the original twist ending where she realizes it was all just a bad dream.

During lunch breaks, the birds refused to fraternize with the actors, choosing instead to stay in character.

Tippi Hedren once called this the toughest role she ever played. As real-life mother to Melanie Griffith, she later recanted this statement.

Finally, Hitch was notorious for making brief cameos in his films. If you look carefully in the final scene where the actors carefully navigate past the now-docile birds, you will note a bird by the swingset that is clearly more obese than the others.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Boxer said...

GREAT PICK. I remember watching this as a kid the first time it was on TV and it scared the hell out of me. It got under my skin for every reason you said; by picking innocent creatures such as birds made the "evil" even more deadly. I'm not sure why. But this movie stayed with me for decades and I even made a trek to Bodega Bay in my 20's to see where it was shot.

The scene that go to me was when they go to the farmhouse and find the family dead. The man's picked our eyes!!! Great horror with little violence. Only a master can achieve that.

Happy MCW!

9:21 AM  
Blogger Karl said...

Good afternoon K9,

You always come up with a interesting perspective. I remember reading something about Rod Taylor's character and the overbearing mother having to do with the relationship between Hitchcock and his mother.

Enjoy your clip day.

9:33 AM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

I guess, from an artistic perspective, I would agree with your perspective. I never really think about the visual effect of a movie, usually, but it is important to the art of movie-making.

I like different Hitchcock movies for different reasons: The Trouble with Harry and Family Plot for their comedy; Rear Window for the terrific ensemble cast which, is for the most part, silent or unscripted; Rope because of its psychologicial intensity; Notorious and North by Northwest for their X-Spot-like intrigue (the latter also for its comedy, the former also because of Ingrid Bergman); Strangers on a train, largely because of the brilliant performance he got out of his daughter, Patricia Hitchcock; and "Frenzy" because, well, I have this thing about Dame Anna Massey.

8:22 AM  

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