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.