I assume I don’t have to explain too much about Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Starring Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, and Suzanne Pleshette, it’s one of Hitchcock’s best-known movies, although this was my first time seeing it. Everybody in my family enjoyed this one, with interests held from beginning to end. In retrospect, it may have been little too intense for my eight-year old daughter, although she did comment it wasn’t quite as scary as Jaws. It was fine for my twelve-year old son.
The movie takes place over a weekend in the small town of Bodega Bay, California. Melanie Daniels, a young and pretty, but rather bratty, lady meets lawyer Mitch Brenner in a pet shop in San Francisco, where he is searching for a pair of lovebirds to give to his much younger sister as a birthday gift. Melanie is another customer but poses as an employee, but when it turns out there are no lovebirds in stock, decides to order a pair and deliver them the next day herself to Bodega Bay, where Mitch returns to visit his mother and sister every weekend.
Melanie only intends to deliver the birds and go back to San Francisco, but Mitch convinces her to stay for dinner, and then to attend his little sister Cathy’s birthday party the next day. Meantime, a couple odd incidents take place concerning the local birds: in one scene, a gull attacks Melanie while she’s in a rowboat on the water; in another, a gull flies into a door and dies. But the movie really gets underway at Cathy’s party, when gulls attack the kids as they’re playing party games, and the adults have to fight off the flock and carry the screaming children inside.
I won’t give away what happens from there as the characters struggle to understand why the birds have turned against humans, and how they can escape the town.
The Birds (1963)
Story/Plot/Characters–The premise is just the slightest bit silly but the script treats it as deadly serious and pulls it off. The acting is excellent and the characters completely believable. (3.5 points)
Special Effects–Dated by today’s standards but effective for what they are. (1 point)
Scariness–Genuinely creepy with a few scares. (1 point)
Atmosphere/Freakiness–The small town of Bodega Bay is a good setting for a story like this–a small, foggy seaside village. I think the sense of isolation of the town is undermined a bit by several references to the freeway that passes a few miles away. (1 point)
Total=6.5 points (Pretty Good)