HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Assassins
Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, The
Synchronic
Capote Tapes, The
Night, The
Show Goes On, The
Furnace, The
Tyrel
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
   
 
  Birds, The Red In Beak And Claw
Year: 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Doreen Lang, Ruth McDevitt, Joe Mantell, Malcolm Atterbury, Karl Swenson, Elizabeth Wilson, Lonny Chapman, Doodles Weaver, John McGovern
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Rich socialite Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is expecting a mynah brid from her local pet shop in San Francisco, but it hasn't arrived yet, and the assistant tells her if she waits it might be here soon. She doesn't like the sound of that, so as the woman goes into the office to phone the supplier Melanie writes out her address and ends up mistaken for the assistant by Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) who she fools into thinking she's in charge, which sees her freeing a canary by mistake. But Mitch wasn't fooled: he recognised her from court as she is an inveterate practical joker. They part frostily, but she can't let it lie and plans an elaborate revenge...

Perhaps even more than Psycho, The Birds was the film of director Alfred Hitchcock which invited the most analysis. Some would tell you that it was pretty much what you saw: a horror movie about birds turning on humanity, but there were so many other scenes apart from the attack ones - the creatures descend in waves - that you could spend quite a lot of time picking apart the motivations and themes of the movie and still it would remain an enigma. Certainly there appeared to be something in the depiction of women here which spoke to an unease, and even an outright panic, that the fairer sex were not half as docile as Mitch and his ilk would like to think.

Mitch is really the sole male character of any significance, as the rest of the time we were caught up in the affairs of Melanie and Mitch's circle of females, which included his mother (Jessica Tandy) who fears abandonment, his sister Cathy (future star of Alien, Veronica Cartwright) and his old girlfriend who chilly Mrs Brenner shooed away, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette), yet nevertheless has stayed working as the schoolteacher in the small coastal town of Bodega Bay as if there might be a chance the flame could be rekindled. The thought that these characters could have more sway over Mitch's actions would seem to be manifested in the chaos of the bird attacks, as if femininity itself was the source of the terror; they do call her Mother Nature, after all.

The script was loosely based and expanded from the Daphne du Maurier short story by Evan Hunter, best known as prolific thriller novelist Ed McBain, under the guidance of Hitch, and many like to seek out examples of the director's inner thoughts in the way this film plays out, especially in light of his, shall we say, complicated relationship with then-newcomer Hedren, who he had talent-spotted in a television commercial. It's now widely known that his main impetus for choosing an unknown actress to star was so he could mould her into his ideal leading lady, the sort of thing more suited to a Josef von Sternberg than Hitchcock, and although Hedren suffered under his tutelage they did make another film together, Marnie, where predictably they fell out.

Knowing the pressure the leading lady was under, and the oddly misogynist tone to the movie, maybe we should be surprised The Birds (even the title is slang for females) turned out quite as well as it did. For some, the passages between the attacks were far too slack, yet by placing an already tense set of connections between the main players under jeopardy, the feeling of something going badly wrong with no end in sight was palpable. Given Hitchcock's record on shaky special effects it might be strange to see him make a project which relied so heavily on them, and even back then there were grumbles that those effects were far from seamless. However, the inherent nastiness, the pointlessness to the violence and initimidation was one of the strongest elements: you can't reason with something which willingly assaults people, especially children, with no apparent motivation.

No matter what Hitch said about our feathered friends taking their revenge on humanity for our misdeeds being the source of his interest in the material, you could see undercurrents running deep underneath each setpiece, not to mention the uneasy interaction. Those setpieces were all examples of the birds attacking: the scene outside the school where the crows flock to launch themselves without any conscience at the pupils, or the scene in the diner which contained examples of the only humour in the film, and bleak, dark humour it was. When Melanie is accused by a hysterical mother for bringing this plague by dint of her outsider status here, we wonder if that's what is really happening, then again, such was the slipperiness of the themes that you could just as easily view Mitch's disquiet with his tenuous hold on independence as the trigger for the nightmare. One of the goriest pre-seventies horrors, The Birds was troubling, far from perfect yet hard to dismiss, and very influential, more so than many might care to admit.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3616 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Alfred Hitchcock  (1899 - 1980)

Hugely influential British director, renowned as "The Master of Suspense" for his way with thrillers. His first recognisably Hitchcockian film was The Lodger, but it was only until Blackmail (the first British sound film) that he found his calling. His other 1930s films included a few classics: Number Seventeen, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage, The Lady Vanishes, Young and Innocent and Jamaica Inn.

Producer David O. Selznick gave Hitchcock his break in Hollywood directing Rebecca, and he never looked back. In the forties were Suspicion, thinly veiled propaganda Foreign Correspondent, the single set Lifeboat, Saboteur, Notorious, Spellbound (with the Salvador Dali dream sequence), Shadow of a Doubt (his personal favourite) and technician's nightmare Rope.

In the fifties were darkly amusing Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder (in 3-D), rare comedy The Trouble with Harry, Rear Window, a remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief, the uncharacteristic in style The Wrong Man, the sickly Vertigo, and his quintessential chase movie, North By Northwest. He also had a successful television series around this time, which he introduced, making his distinctive face and voice as recognisable as his name.

The sixties started strongly with groundbreaking horror Psycho, and The Birds was just as successful, but then Hitchcock went into decline with uninspired thrillers like Marnie, Torn Curtain and Topaz. The seventies saw a return to form with Frenzy, but his last film Family Plot was disappointing. Still, a great career, and his mixture of romance, black comedy, thrills and elaborate set pieces will always entertain. Watch out for his cameo appearances in most of his films.

 
Review Comments (7)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: