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In its day, the early 1960s, "The Birds" was considered controversial and shocking. Even in the late 60s into the early 70s when I had first seen "The Birds" on tv, it was still pretty shocking though in comparison to the movies being filmed in our current age, "The Birds", with the exception of a few scenes, is considered to be quite tame. The reason this Hitchcock movie still holds up after 55 years is its solid directing and top notch cast with Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright and of course Tippi Hedren. Tippi Hedren is the reason I come back to this classic. There is something very deep and absolute about Tippi Hedren's presence in this movie that draws me in each time I've seen it though I could never really put my finger on just exactly why. There is a helplessness and vulnerable quality to her portrayal of the character "Melanie Daniels". The conundrum is that in the same instances of that helplessness and vulnerability, Melanie Daniels is shrewd, intelligent and tough as nails. Of course that isn't rare by any means. Many actors are able to exude those same qualities but I doubt that any other actor could've played that role as well as Hedren had. Rod Taylor is another strong actor and the only criticism I have for this movie (and it's a minor criticism) is that his character "Mitch Brenner" sometimes comes across as too sympathetic and over protective towards Hedren's character. In my opinion that interferes with the antagonistic nature of their relationship and subtly stunts the chemistry between the two characters. Veronica Cartwright had the amazing ability to cry convincingly on cue and Jessica Tandy is a fine character actor as well as Pleshette. I love this movie and highly recommend it !!
Reviewed in the United States on February 25, 2019
The first half of the movie makes complete sense if you assume Mitch is gay and maintains a bachelor pad in San Francisco so as not to rub the noses of his dependent mother and sister in his wicked other lifestyle.
And i mean everything falls into place. Richard Deacon (gay in real life), resplendent in his pornstache, Suzanne Pleshette bitchy and catty and practically blurting out the reason her romance with Mitch went nowhere ("San Francisco? I guess that's where *everybody* meets Mitch"), the reverse oedipal complex of an icy, razor-tongued mother forcing her son to behave as a stand-in for her dead husband (He keeps calling her "dear" and "darling" while trying to talk her down from a fit of jealousy over inviting Melanie Daniels to stay overnight) ... my skin started to crawl long before the birds began to attack.
I've seen this movie several times before, but this was the first time on a big HDTV, and it was effective. I never realized how much time they spent showing the birds stabbing, rending, and tearing the flesh of their enemies, or how claustrophobic the outdoors can be when death comes from above.
Indoors our outdoors, there was no escape from millions of little hostile aircraft. I imagine the feeling of dread was like what what living in London at the height of the Blitz was like; all these people trying very hard to adapt to the threat because they were unwilling or unable to flee it.
That's why the ending was perfect. Fade to black. The family escaped the plague of blackbirds but for how long? How was Richard Deacon going to react when Mitch brought his mother and sister to his tony Castro apartment, or did he put them up at one of the hotels between the Union Square pet shop where the story began, and the entrance to Chinatown at the corner of Bush and Grant?
I've seen this movie at least a dozen times and I never tire of it, although I do wait a few years between viewings because it is so intense. It became even more intense for me after I watched "The Girl", a 2012 movie starring Sienna Miller and Toby Jones, about the antagonistic relationship between Hitchcock and Hedren. Apparently he made advances toward her, as he did to all his ice queen stars, and she rebuffed him. So he was unspeakably brutal in some of the scenes in "The Birds" and "Marnie," the two films he did with Hedren. Remember the attic scene in "The Birds" where Hedren is attacked over and over? He made her do that scene over and over and over again, and although he promised that the birds which actually attacked Hedren would only be mechanical ones controlled by special effects people, he did not keep that promise. Things were even worse on the set of "Marnie."
I can't watch "The Birds" now without thinking what a despicable person Hitchcock was, and how he very nearly ruined the career of a young, beautiful woman simply because she refused to play his "games." In fact, between 1965, when "Marnie" was released (the year after "The Birds" came out) and 1970, the only roles listed on Tippi Hedren's IMDb page are two guest starring roles on television and one movie. Obviously Hitchcock blackballed her in the movie industry but apparently there were some people who knew the score, because from 1970 on Hedren worked in the industry fairly steadily.
I am not discussing "The Birds" because I think everything has pretty much been said by other reviewers over the last fifty years. As I said, I have watched it many times. These two films and "Psycho" are the only ones that Hitchcock made that I care about at all. I've seen some of the others, and I did enjoy the famous "Que Sera, Sera" scene in "The Man Who Knew Too Much," but other than that, you can have Hitchcock. I don't watch movies featuring actors I know to be mean or violent and the same applies to directors, producers, etc.
The Blu-Ray Transfer is excellent! It's the best I have ever seen this movie look! It's crisp and clear...just a couple of places with a few seconds where you can notice slight grain. For a film made in 1963, it's amazing how good this looks!
5.0 out of 5 stars"THE BIRDS,the word",DVD or Bluray?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 30, 2018
'The Birds'(1963)-I recently got a 2012'augmented reality' DVD of this film & was disappointed the disc was the same one issued in 2005(with a different cover). So I've now purchased a 50th anniversary(2013)bluray edition- I'll give details of what's on the different discs: the DVD -The film(114mins) has clear soundiing English & German (mono) language options with subtitles in those + Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian & Finnish . The films Technicolor print wasn't 'remastered' ,but for the most part still looks good apart from a brief 'in the house bird attack' later on where the picture has some noticiable damage .Although this section is darker ,so the 'wear & tear' on the print doesn't stand out as it would have in some other scenes in the film. The real 'problem' with the picture on this disc is that it's still in old TV 4:3 ratio. The main extra is a very good 'Making of' (80mins) from 1999 (available with subtitles)-This is in 4:3 ratio, but has scenes from the film in 'widescreen'. The documentary has input from the screenwriter(Evan Hunter), many of the production + technical crew, with stars Tippi Hedren,Rod Taylor & Veronica Cartwright + others involved & audio segments with Hitchcock in conversation with Peter Bogdanovich ,& goes into detail about the inspired decision to use a sound collage of amplified & distorted bird sounds rather than a standard music score & much more ,this is very entertaining & it also makes it clear just how complicated a film this was to put together & make 'the fantasy premise' seem all too convincingly believable. The other extras are: A 'deleted scene', that is a few still images + some pages from the screenplay shown in order. The 'original ending'- more screenplay pages + storyboard images. An amusing(10min) Tippi Hedren screen test (with Martin Balsam standing in for Rod Taylor) A(3min) Universal News promotional from1963 for A.H. + 'The Birds'. A photo gallery featuring over 80 images -of promotional pics, on set action, advertising materials, posters ,screen cards etc . With a 5min promo 'trailer'( really a four and half-min A.H. comic set piece followed by 30secs of unnerving trailer) to finish. So a fine film(as you most probably know already) that doesn't seem to age and nearly always appears to have something in there you weren't previously aware of ,in a decent looking print ,a very good documentary + some other worthwhile extras. The BLURAY DISC-mine is an Italian copy(titled Gli Uccelli) but otherwise is the same as the standard UK one & is easy to navigate. To start with, the image is now in 1.85:1 widescreen(1080p Hi-Def) & has clearly been well restored,with the few scratches & blemishes removed. On my (non HD)TV the colours & depth are good + the 'special effects' still look convincing. The English audio is in 'DTS-HD master'2 channel with Japanese,French ,Italian ,German & Spanish options & with choice of 20 different subtitles. The Bluray has all the extras available on the DVD .+ A (14min)'Hitchcocks monster movie' feature ,a 14min audio segment with Hitchcock in conversation with Francois Truffaut(1962), a (9 min) Universal films restoration feature & a 9min Universal films backlot feature with M. Mann, S.Spielberg ,M.Streep & others. Unfortunately unlike some of Hitchcock's other films on DVD/Bluray there isn't a commentary feature ,but the improved image & reasonable prices this is available for make this a very attractive package on Bluray & if you've only got a DVD player the discs can be bought for bargain prices -making this one for your collection. So although having 'The Birds' available in its correct ratio available only on region1 DVDs was frustrating, finally getting the film in 'widescreen' with a nicely cleaned up print led to this Bluray, & I think one of my better purchases...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 31, 2016
One of the films Alfred Hitchcock is most remembered for, The Birds starts off slowly as isolated bird attacks happen in the small town of Bodega Bay. The suspense builds as isolated attacks become co-ordinated, with birds unusually providing the villain of the piece. No matter how often you see it the scenes of birds gathering on the climbing frame and the subsequent attack of screaming children is a masterpiece, as is their pecking at the door to get in. The chilling sounds of a film with practically no music were provided by an early predecessor of the synthesizer, and that was itself a master stroke from Hitchcock as the visuals are heightened by the suspenseful backing at times, or when there is hardly a sound the chill realisation of something about to happen adds tension. Tippi Hedren, in her first starring role acts as a point of view for many of the attacks, put up a real life stoic performance after assistants flung birds at her - some of the fear on her face was probably quite real as a result. It's never explained why the birds attack, and unusually for Hitchcock the film is left open-ended. This is a classic thriller with plenty to recommend it. If you are new to Hitchcock this is one of his best.
I loved this movie when I first saw it way back when. I enjoyed it again now, though some of the effects with the birds is now dated. How great this would have been given what directors can do with CGI.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2017
Fantastic old classic. This is such an atmospheric horror stylish movie. It is a love story which stars Rod Taylor and Tippi Hardren. I first watched this with my mother one night and loved it. They really don't make 'em like they used to. Will get Marnie next.
5.0 out of 5 stars... knowledge or thoughts regarding this film but I really loved it. You forget it's over 50 years old
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 13, 2016
I didn't really have any prior knowledge or thoughts regarding this film but I really loved it. You forget it's over 50 years old. It's still a terrifying plot and executed so well. Hitchcock does it again.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 26, 2018
I've owned a DVD of this film for years, but it was 4:3 ratio. The Blu-ray version is in the correct 1.78:1 ratio. Quality of the film is good as well, not up to modern HD, but the film is 55 years old. I love all Hitchcock work, so that was never going to be an issue.
5.0 out of 5 starsOne of the great Hitchcock films
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 26, 2015
Loved this film for many years and decided to add it to my collection, No one does suspense like Hitchcock. Would definitely recommend watching this on a rainy sunday afternoon. Bizzarely when the birds were attacking at the end, the seagulls outside my window began flocking to my roof, very spooky and what a great way to end a great movie.