The Birds (1963)
Critic Consensus: Proving once again that build-up is the key to suspense, Alfred Hitchcock successfully turned birds into some of the most terrifying villains in horror history.
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as Mitch Brenner
as Melanie Daniels
as Annie Hayworth
as Lydia Brenner
as Cathy Brenner
as Mrs. Bundy
as Mrs. MacGruder
as Sebastian Sholes
as Postal Clerk
as Man in Front of Pet Shop with White Poodles
as Man in Elevator
as Mother in Cafe
as Farm Hand
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Critic Reviews for The Birds
Hitchcock prolongs his prelude to horror for more than half the film, playing with audience suspense with comedy and romance while he sets his stage. The horror when it comes is a hair-raiser ...
The true genius of the film, based on a 1952 short story by Daphne du Maurier, is the way Hitchcock makes the malevolent birds seem like manifestations of his characters' mental unease.
Drawing from the relatively invisible literary talents of Daphne DuMaurier and Evan Hunter, Alfred Hitchcock has fashioned a major work of cinematic art, and "cinematic" is the operative term here, not "literary" or "sociological."
Few films depict so eerily yet so meticulously the metaphysical and historical sense of a world out of joint.
Hitch's much misappreciated follow-up to Psycho is arguably the greatest of all disaster films -- a triumph of special effects, as well as the fountainhead of what has become known as gross-out horror.
Audience Reviews for The Birds
Inexplicably, birds begin attacking the town of Bogeda Bay, interrupting a burgeoning love affair between a socialite and a lawyer. These birds are as natural, inexplicable and inevitable as death itself.
In an isolated California town, birds mysteriously begin attacking people. It's often said that a Hitchcock film has two plots: in the beginning there is an innocuous plot, but then something unexpected happens that overtakes the film. For example, Psycho is about a woman stealing money from her employer until Norman Bates appears thirty minutes later. Notorious is about a love story between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman until it becomes a spy flick about thirty minutes later. The Birds follows this formula, but the problem is that the initial story is so damn boring. The love story between Mitch and Melanie gathers no steam, and the Breaking Bad credits have more chemistry than Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren. Once the birds start pecking away at people's eyes, I had already given up on caring about these characters. Also, the film refuses to answer why the birds go nuts, and while I don't think it's necessary that the film answer this question, the film's steadfast apathy for wherefores got overbearing when a character asked why for the fourth or fifth time. What I can say about the film is that Hitch's work changes the way people look at the world. The Birds is not a strong film, but I did notice myself paying closer attention to birds as I drove to work. It's irrational but also the mark of director who can affect his audience in mysterious ways.
Hitchcock's The Birds, like millions before me have said and witnessed themselves, absolutely manages to turn birds into frightening monsters of terror. Hitchcock manages to build tension slowly until the build-up almost becomes unbearable and then all hell breaks loose. Obviously the special effects are dated and a little laughable at times, but nonetheless they get the point across and were much better for their time. The actors do a good job of character building during the slower first half where we get to know all of the characters. In true disaster movie fashion, the characters aren't the smartest and their circumstances for being in the wrong place at the wrong time aren't exactly the best, but Hitchcock keeps enough under wraps that you don't question their bond by the end. The film is a little long and slow in spots, but they are worth sitting through for the pay-off. Like most Hitchcock films, The Birds makes you think and lingers in your mind long after the credits roll. It's not his best film, but it's a darn good one.
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