31 Days Of Horror: The Birds

There’s nothing like having the end of the world caused by something as simple as a bunch of birds.

Alfred Hitchcock had decided to follow up his masterpiece Psycho with this adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s short story. He had novelist Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain, to adapt the story but at the same time create new characters and a more elaborate plot (it was just a short story). Hunter had previously worked on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and after the success of this film he was supposed to write the screenplay for Hitchcock’s Marnie but fought against Hitchcock over the rape scene. Hitchcock fired him and hired Jay Presson Allen.

The movie starts off in San Francisco where wealthy Tippi Hedren runs into Rod Taylor in a pet shop. Taylor is a lawyer and recognizes Hedren from her many public outrages such as ending up naked in a fountain in Rome. Taylor was looking for lovebirds for his younger sister and is told that the store doesn’t have any after playfully tricking Hedren (he pretends that she works there and she goes along without realizing that he’s messing with her). Hedren then decides to buy some lovebirds and take them to Taylor’s home in Bodega Bay. When Hedren arrives there, she is attacked by a seagull. Soon there are more and more bird attacks.

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense and his reign continues with this film. It’s also his last great film. After this film, his output isn’t great. Marnie is an excellent film, it’s not really a suspense film and Torn Curtain and Topaz are both pretty mediocre. Frenzy is pretty good but it’s not really great Hitchcock.

The Birds is an excellent film. It’s also Hitchcock’s most bleak film, ending on a rather ominous note.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.

3 thoughts on “31 Days Of Horror: The Birds”

  1. If you think this ending is bleak, read the original short story by Daphne Du Maurier, which is not “just a short story” but one of the classics in the form.

    Hitchcock did his habitual smash-and-grab on an original work, taking the title and the bird attacks and changing everything else. (Only occasionally did he hew closely to the original, “Psycho” being an example.) Like “The Shining” as reenvisioned by Stanley Kubrick, “The Birds” is an alternative version, to be considered on its own merits.

  2. Frenzy might be more explicitly bawdy than the rest of Hitchcock’s work, but it’s still him, through and through, from innocent man theme straight down to the potato truck scene.

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