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The Birds (1963) Film Review

I am a film enthusiast and enjoy reviewing films I have watched. I like all sorts of films but mainly black & white ones from the 50's & 60s

the-birds-1963-film-review
ActorCharacter

Jessica Tandy

Lydia Brenner

Rod Taylor

Mitchell 'Mitch' Brenner

Veronica Cartwright

Cathy Brenner

Tippi Hedren

Melanie Daniels

Suzanne Pleshette

Annie Hayworth

the-birds-1963-film-review

About the film

Producer: Alfred Hitchcock

Director: Alfred Hitchock

Running time: 1 hr 59 mins

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Horror

Budget: $2,500,000

Distributed by: Universal Pictures


About the film

This film is based on the book of the same name written by Daphne du Maurier. Melanie is a rich socialite who is in San Francisco. She is in a bird shop wanting to purchase a bird when lawyer Mitch walks in. He mistakenly thinks she's a saleswoman and tries to buy 2 love birds from her. In reality, he knows who she is. He had previously seen her in court and knows how she loves to play pranks. He's really flirting with her. She eventually gets to know Mitch and his family - she even befriends his ex girlfriend, Annie. When she spends the night round Annie's, she hears a thud and notices a seagull had killed itself flying into the front door.

It is soon after this that a flock of ravens gets into the Brenner household through the chimney. It is then the seagulls attack. The town can't understand what is going on as the gulls start attacking people and even killing them. Now that the town is flooded with seagulls and ravens, how does the townsfolk deal with these creatures? It is a mystery as to why these birds have descended on the town and starting attacking people. To add further to the mysterious arrival, crows are also amongst the birds terrifying and maiming people.

The film runs for about 45 minutes before we get to any actual horror bits. I think this is deliberate to build the suspense and get a sense of the story. How will the towns people cope with all these birds?

the-birds-1963-film-review

My thoughts

I've watched this film several times over the years, but still enjoy watching it. Alfred Hitchock was a genius when it comes to making films, and The Birds is by no means any exception. You can understand why people have such a fear of birds. Why the birds have come to this small, sleepy town, is bewildering. But there they are. With Melanie's arrival in the town, so did the birds it seems. One woman even blames her for the flock arriving.

There are scenes which are truly horrid to see, especially when you see the birds attacking people. Even more scary, they can, and do, kill. The way the film is shot is cleverly done with close up shots of the seagulls and all the crows sitting on the telephone wires. What I like about this film is you've got the romantic side of the story with the love interest between Melanie and Mitch. Plus the horror element with the birds, and people trying to protect themselves from these creatures. I wonder what people thought when Hitchock first came up with the idea of making a film of the book? Making a film of killer birds must have seems ridiculous at the time. But with a name like Alfred Hitchcock behind it, you can more or less guarantee that the film will be a winner.

The actors who play Melanie and Mitch work well together, and their on screen chemistry can be seen throughout the film. I like the idea of 2 people, who seem worlds apart, to grow fond of each other. As I said, for the first 45 minutes or so, there's no real horror element to the film. But once it does start, it comes in leaps and bounds. It can send chills down your spine just watching how these birds attack. There is no music as such in the film, and none is needed. With a lot of films music helps to set the scene and lure people into the dark and scary side of the film. But I think with this film, it is so well shot that just by watching it can make your hairs stand up on end.

As to why the birds suddenly descended upon the town is never revealed. But for Hitchocks 49th film, this will most certainly give people the creeps, even after all these years.

The Birds Film Trailer

© 2018 Louise Powles

Comments

Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on October 08, 2018:

This is probably my second favorite Hitchcock movie. I love the lack of music and the performances. You really get to know the characters before the horror hits, and when it does, it's intense. Each attack is unique and horrific. It feels so ahead of its time, and you can see how it has influenced modern horror films like "Signs" and "A Quiet Place." Birds are so strange in that they can be calm one second and aggressive the next. I was once swooped by a gull while eating pizza on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, and it was terrifying and then suddenly hilarious. Hitchcock manages to remove the humor element and just focus on the damage these creatures could do if they ever decided to unite and turn on humans.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 20, 2018:

Have watched this movie many times too. Still a huge fan and will always give it a watch when on TV.

Thanks Lousie

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on September 11, 2018:

Yes Ronald, I agree. It's strange why they start attacking people. It is still a good film though. =)

Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on September 11, 2018:

To me "The Birds" is a very odd, yet enjoyable film. The odd part is that we are never told what it's all about - why do the birds turn on people the way they do? But even with that conundrum never being explained, I still enjoy it enough that I'll usually watch it when it's on TV.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 29, 2018:

Seems quite a suspense thriller from "The Master of Suspense". Hitchcock, I would say, reigns supreme at this even to this day. Your review makes me want to see this film.

Unfortunately, I could not watch the trailer as it is blocked in my country.

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on July 27, 2018:

Thankyou Talal.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 25, 2018:

Hitchcock was dubbed "The Master of Suspense" for good reason -- which you have outlined so well in your review of this film. He knew how to balance the psychological fears -- that anticipation with imminent danger and horror to great effect. I remember how so many of his sets/scenes seemed to be immaculate, much like how the women were dressed. There was no one like him, and there will never be another film like The Birds.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 25, 2018:

I Hitchcock but have never seen this film. Thanks for the review. I'm that I won't be disappointed when I watch it.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 25, 2018:

I have seen this film so many times over the years, and it will always remain my favourite Hitchcock, and a real cult classic. Thank you for bringing back memories of this movie. Oh, Rod Taylor was an Aussie actor too. Also starred in the original Time Machine.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 24, 2018:

I’ve never seen this, but with your review now I want to. Alfred Hitchock was fabulous.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 24, 2018:

I really must watch this film now that I've read your review. I want to read the book, too. I've heard about the film many times and seen clips from it, but I've never watched the whole movie. I didn't realize that the birds' behaviour is never explained.

Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on July 24, 2018:

Thanks for the plot summary. I never did understand it. Keep in mind that birds are Avian Dinosaurs! It was a dinosaur uprising.

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on July 24, 2018:

Mike, thankyou for the lovely comment.

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on July 24, 2018:

Yes I can understand that Mary. Big groups of birds would be scare me too.

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on July 24, 2018:

Yes I agree Penny. I think Hitchcock was a genius. =)

Louise Powles (author) from Norfolk, England on July 24, 2018:

Me too Lori, it's a great film.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on July 24, 2018:

One of Hitchcocks best. Seen it a bazillion times.

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on July 24, 2018:

I've loved this movie for decades, in part because we never do find out why it starts or stops.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 24, 2018:

I have watched this movie several times, too. Hitchcock is indeed a genius but I have to admit, I got scared after that when I see a big group of birds.

Readmikenow on July 24, 2018:

I watched this movie more than once. I think it is an excellent film. Considering the film making technology available at the time, it is very good. I looked at groups of flying birds completely different after watching that movie. I enjoyed reading this article.