THE BIRDS (1963) C widescreen 120m dir: Alfred Hitchcock
w/Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright, Ethel Griffies, Charles McGraw, Ruth McDevitt, Joe Mantell, Doodles Weaver
From The Movie Guide: "Hitchcock's follow-up to PSYCHO (1960) was yet another ground-breaking addition to the horror genre and further revealed the master director's darker obsessions.
"Loosely based on a Daphne du Maurier short story, the action is set in Bodega Bay [California] and follows bored, spoiled socialite Melanie Daniels (Hedren) as she romantically pursues dashing lawyer Mitch Brenner (Taylor). Tension soon develops among Melanie, schoolteacher Annie Hayworth, Mitch's former flame (Pleshette), and Mitch's domineering mother (Tandy). The emotional interplay is interrupted (and reflected) by the sudden and unexplained attack of thousands of birds on the area.
"Hailed as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces by some and despised by others, THE BIRDS is certainly among the director's more complex and fascinating works. Volumes have been written about the film, with each writer picking it apart scene by scene in order to prove his or her particular critical theory --- mostly of the psychoanalytic variety. Be that as it may, even those who grow impatient with the slow build-up or occasional dramatic lapses cannot deny the terrifying power of the film's haunting images: the bird point-of-view shot of Bodega Bay, the birds slowly gathering on the playground monkey bars, the attack on the children's birthday party, Melanie trapped in the attic, and the final ambiguous shot of the defeated humans leaving Bodega Bay while the thousands of triumphant birds gathered on the ground watch them go."
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films: "As commercially successful as his other films, The Birds perhaps aroused more critical controversy than any other Hitchcock film. For non-aficionados, this was as involving and enjoyable as his others, but weighed down by symbolic pretentiousness, by Hitchcock trying to live up to his reputation as a 'serious' director. For others, such as Robin Wood: 'The birds are a concrete embodiment of the arbitrary and unpredictable, of whatever makes human life and human relationships precarious, a reminder of the fragility and instability that cannot be ignored or evaded, and beyond that, of the possibility that life is meaningless and absurd.
"'The opening shots of the film, as so often in Hitchcock, state the theme with almost diagrammatic simplicity. Melanie Daniels crosses a street in San Francisco; overhead, the birds mass in ominous dark clouds. She enters an expensive pet shop; she is surrounded by birds in ornamental cages. Outside, reality, with its constant menace of instability; inside, the "safe" artificial world that sophisticated human beings fabricate and call reality. The light comedy of the opening sequence is not merely there to lull the spectator into a state of unpreparedness for the coming horrors. The triviality is the point: the triviality of constant, even habitual playacting.
"'In these opening scenes, Melanie's behaviour and attitude, even her stance, are unnatural and dehumanizing --- life rendered insignificant in the gilded cage of artificiality.'"
Ub Iwerks was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.