The Birds

Year: 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Daphne Du Maurier
Cast: Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Veronica Cartwright, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette
To some, Hitchcock's seminal work. Despite its classic status (and at the risk of being lynched by fans), the aesthetic and styles of relating & speaking are badly dated nowadays, and the special effects are more a charming and quaint reminder of how filmmakers worked back then, but the power of the story remains.

Like Dawn of the Dead , we don't see any reasons why birds start going bonkers and attack people in a coastal community north of San Francisco, and we don't see any investigation or explanation by the authorities, we merely focus on a handful of people trying to live through it.

Socialite city slicker Melanie (Hedren) chases handsome lawyer Mitch (Taylor) to his small coastal hometown to mess with his head and win him over, there meeting the other townspeople including his family.

It could almost have been a saucy Doris Day/Rock Hudson love story, but out of the blue and for absolutely no reason, terror descends as bird attacks occur in increasing numbers and increasing ferocity, and soon the townspeople are running for their lives, trying to get indoors and escape the menace of gulls and crows.

Again like Dawn of the Dead , there's no reason, no resolution and no ending. The attacks - the heroes discover - come in waves as the birds turn crazed in their bloodlust, and it's in a lull that Melanie stumbles into the attic of the house and they turn on her, injuring her badly.

The final scene is of Mitch helping her, his young sister and mother out to the car as thousands of their now-dormant attackers quietly blanket the area. No end credits, no 'The End', just the Universal logo and the house lights coming on.

An enduring classic whose classic status outlives its technical relevance and impressiveness, although to be fair to fans and Hitchcock's memory, his genius is timeless. The shot of Hedren sitting outside the schoolhouse while the crows slowly fill up the climbing frame behind her (in complete silence, without even scary music) is as creepy as they come.

And look closely at Mitch's kid sister - she's played by a young Veronica Cartwright, who'd go on to play Lambert in Alien.

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