The Birds (1963) Film Review

Updated on July 24, 2018
Coffeequeeen profile image

Louise is a film enthusiast and enjoys films particularly from the 40's and 50's era & enjoys writing about films she has seen.

Actor
Character
Jessica Tandy
Lydia Brenner
Rod Taylor
Mitchell 'Mitch' Brenner
Veronica Cartwright
Cathy Brenner
Tippi Hedren
Melanie Daniels
Suzanne Pleshette
Annie Hayworth

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?

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

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Louise Powles

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      • Laura335 profile image

        Laura Smith 

        12 days ago from Pittsburgh, PA

        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 profile image

        Ethel Smith 

        4 weeks ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

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

        Thanks Lousie

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        5 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

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

      • RonElFran profile image

        Ronald E Franklin 

        5 weeks ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

        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 jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 

        2 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        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.

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        2 months ago from Norfolk, England

        Thankyou Talal.

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        2 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

        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.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        2 months ago from The Caribbean

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

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        2 months ago from Queensland Australia

        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 profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 months ago from USA

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

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        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 profile image

        Jay C OBrien 

        2 months ago from Houston, TX USA

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

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        2 months ago from Norfolk, England

        Mike, thankyou for the lovely comment.

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        2 months ago from Norfolk, England

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

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        2 months ago from Norfolk, England

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

      • Coffeequeeen profile imageAUTHOR

        Louise Powles 

        2 months ago from Norfolk, England

        Me too Lori, it's a great film.

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        2 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        One of Hitchcocks best. Seen it a bazillion times.

      • Penny Sebring profile image

        Penny Sebring 

        2 months ago from Fort Collins

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

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        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 profile image

        Readmikenow 

        2 months ago

        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.

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