Notes on “The Birds”

Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:


The moods of Hitchcock’s movies from the ’50s and early ’60s were often keyed to his leading ladies. “Vertigo” is voluptuous and mysterious, like Kim Novak. “To Catch a Thief” is pert and a little mischievous, like Grace Kelly. And “The Birds” is remote and affectless, like Tippi Hedren. It’s wickedly funny, almost kinky, watching Hitchcock bring a cosmic dimension to his Cinema of Guilt. By being a bad girl, Tippi doesn’t just endanger herself, she endangers the whole world, and the meagerness of her transgression underscores the perverseness of the resulting punishment. As in Preminger’s “Bonjour Tristesse,” there’s a sense of postwar malaise, of traditional society coming apart at the seams. Hedren’s Melanie is a city girl, an international jet-setter (Hitchcock throws in a reference to “La Dolce Vita”), who visits a rural enclave and brings the fury of the universe down upon it. I’d always intuited that the movie was a big influence on “Jaws,” but watching it closely I noticed how much Spielberg borrowed, particularly in his depictions of the Amity townspeople. The scene in the diner could almost take place in Amity. And the bit in which Hedren slaps the hysterical mother may be the origin of the similar scene in “Jaws” in which Mrs. Kintner slaps Roy Scheider.

About Fabrizio del Wrongo

Recovering liberal arts major. Unrepentant movie nut. Aspiring boozehound.
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2 Responses to Notes on “The Birds”

  1. Prof. Woland says:

    I go to Bodega Bay and Sebastopol probably 3-4 times per year. Very little has changed there since 1963 and they are beautiful places to go to even if they are overshadowed by other places in Sonoma that are more chichi. There is a kind of faded genteel charm to the area with older vacation homes and farms that were once thriving.

    Every August there is a gravenstein apple fair in Sebastopol. we go there and pick apples and eat. It is not special but it is unspoiled and retains a distinct authentic counter culture feel. The drive west to Bodega Bay is short and there is a wonderful bakery owned by hippies in Freestone. Due north from there is Occidental and then the Bohemian Grove and Monte Rio. The wine along the Russian river is great, particularly the Pinot, The Zins are excellent too.

    If you are from another place in the country and want to see California, that is the place to do it.


  2. JV says:

    Funny, I just watched this last night, it was on TCM. Lots of mother/son stuff going on, as well, which isn’t surprising coming from Hitchcock.


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