Combustible Celluloid
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With: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright
Written by: Evan Hunter, based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 119
Date: 28/03/1963

The Birds (1963)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Crying Fowl

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This masterpiece is one of Hitchcock's purest forays into cinema; it's such a complete piece that it even gets by with two mediocre actors. At least Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels has a kind of icy blonde sex appeal, but the utterly bland Rod Taylor barely has a chance as hero Mitch Brenner.

Loosely based on a short story by Daphne Du Maurier (who also provided source material for Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn and Rebecca), the film couldn't be simpler: birds attack humans. Hitch never provides an explanation or even a satisfactory conclusion to this problem.

What's more, the first real attack doesn't come until around the film's halfway point, and yet the Master keeps us riveted throughout with his playful little hints. By the time The Birds reaches its climax, the tension and terror becomes almost joyously unbearable.

Hitch shot the film in San Francisco and Bodega Bay; he can be seen coming out of a pet shop in Union Square during the opening moments. Crime novelist Evan Hunter, also known as Ed McBain, adapted the screenplay and composer Bernard Herrmann recorded the film's bird sounds in place of a traditional musical score.

DVD Details: Universal's DVD inclues the featurette All about The Birds, a storyboard sequence, a newsreel, a deleted scene and notes on the original ending and Tippi Hedren's screen test.

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