The Birds (1963)
The eerie atmosphere and primal theme is a chilling starting point for this impressive special effects film, but unfortunately, the film is far from the master of suspense's top level. Wanting to weave his inexplicable phenomena in a substantial dramatic foundation, Hitchcock embarks on an ambitious project, but ultimately Evan Hunter's script leaves a lot to be desired and calls for performances that a mediocre cast cannot pull off. It would be fair to assume that Hitchcock wanted to use lesser known performers in order to not let any star magnetism steal the story's thunder, but with Rod Taylor in a dubious leading role and Jessica Tandy's overacting, he attracts attention to factors that don't support his aspiration. Tippi Hedren is a treat (which of course was Hitch's motivation for casting her) and she's delicate and sensual, but she's no Grace Kelly.
The Birds has a few great scenes and some amazing images (including the final shot), but unlike many of his best chillers, Hitchcock fails to accumulate the suspense. We're simply being presented with a terror, but it's not put into context, not given the necessary relevance. Instead, Hitchcock tries to distract our attention with a dead and unerotic love story that finds peculiar fertile soil in an Oedipus infested family with a bizarre distribution of generations. It seems Melanie's motivation is lost in the process.
As Hitchcock returns to colour film
after his two previous outings The Gazebo (1959) and Psycho
(1960) had been in black and white, he also marks the
beginning of his decline. Compared to his numerous magnum opuses, The
Birds remains, much like Annie's two symbolic lovebirds, nothing but
a bleak curiosity. It's a bloodfeast, compared to the standards of its
time, but not the most harrowing one. If you find yourself scared of
crows or gulls after watching The Birds, you probably already