The Birds, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Universal Pictures, March 28, 1963 (US)
Screenplay: Evan Hunter, based on the story by Daphne Du Maurier
Starring: Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, and Tippi Hedren
KraaaahhhhHHHHH!!!! KreeeehhhhhHHHH!!!! Skkkreaaaaaaaakkkkk!!! Run! Something horrible is happening in Bodega Bay! It’s the most frightening thing you have ever seen! More frightening than Baby Jane’s eyebrows. More terrifying than Charlton Heston’s chest hair. More ghastly than the soundtrack from Gigi. Melanie Daniels has been wearing the same dress for over THREE days now in this film! And there’s not a trace of bird-poop or pigeon-blood on it anywhere! How the hell does she do that?
Cathy Brenner (Veronica Cartwright): Are you coming to my party tomorrow?
Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren): I don’t think so. I have to get back to San Francisco.
Cathy: Don’t you like us?
Melanie: Oh, darling, of course I do.
Cathy: Don’t you like Bodega Bay?
Melanie: I don’t know yet.
There is something just god-awful wrong about this film. No normal human being can write about it without a stiff Ramos Fizz from the San Francisco Cliff House. Hitchcock has literally fucked up the minds of over 100 million baby boomers forever. It will only be ten or twenty years from now (when we are all slobbering and demented on park benches at our rest homes) that the true and utter horror will fully rear its black-beaked face. Only then will we realize just how much it scared the living shit out of us. Only then will we shriek and shiver and shake our Ocean Pacific Retirement canes at innocent young women in black feathered hats (wanting nothing more than afternoon tea) as they walk down the street. We will gravely swat at their pretty-plumed heads thinking we are lashing out at the vicious-winged creatures from some ’60s evil dark. Bad nightingales. Get those friggin birds out of here! Skrrrrrreeeeaaaaaaak!
Melanie: Just what are you looking for sir?
Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor): Love Birds.
There is no love in Bodega Bay. Not even a hair salon. It’s pretty and quiet and quaint. But drop-dead boring. So far away from the mad and swinging San Francisco scene of pill-box hats and cocktail napkins. No Literati. No lunch dates. No Pomeranians on diamond leashes doing naughty doggie things on ’50s furniture. Not even your 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe can get you out of this fish-town, honey. People here have crooked teeth. Their clothes stink. Handsome men live with their mothers. And there’s not a single Dior boutique anywhere. You don’t even have an overnight bag! So wear that dress for three days and see what trouble you can get into. Wear it smartly as you and Mitch climb all the way up that hill in high heels with martinis. Martinis? Not only martinis but a whole friggin martini shaker, too! You two deserve to have your eyes plucked out!
Mother in diner (Doreen Lang): Why are they doing this? Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started. Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from! I think you’re evil. EVIL!
Maybe it’s the big red gash under all that perfect blonde hair. Maybe it’s the children running in panic down the street from the school house. Maybe it’s all of us holed up together in some diner on a sunny afternoon (yes, even sunny days can be evil, too). This film is simply the scariest thing on earth. Beneath the sexual tension and innuendo. The Freudian-suggestive dialogue. Beneath the quiet waters, the haunting silence. The squalls that are far away out at sea. All you can think of is sitting down and having a good, restful smoke. You barely notice the first bird that flaps down behind you. Then the second. Then the third (we as cinematic dupes see it oh so well). And when the whole bloody playground is draped in feathered black, only then do you turn around. Only then do you see the horror. You can’t move more quickly or slowly. The evil has landed. Even small children get plucked up by the dark. No one is safe. No one. Thank God you still have that dress on. It’s still so clean and ironed. But I bet it smells something awful, too.
Doomsdayer in Diner (Karl Swenson): It’s the end of the world.