THE BIRDS (1963)

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

English teachers may have groused about this Alfred Hitchcock classic's ad line, "THE BIRDS is coming," but bad grammar was the least of the film's assaults on viewers' sensibilities. Even 50 years after its premiere, the film still shocks with its refusal to provide any explanation for the events depicted, the sudden bird attacks on the inhabitants of a mythical coastal town. Instead, Hitchcock focuses on the tangled relationships that precede the attacks, performed by a top-notch cast including Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright and, in her starring debut, Tippi Hedren, who is in attendance at this screening. Hedren's casting was a bit of a shock, too, as she came out of nowhere to snare the lead and more than held her own against the pros, both human and avian. The soundtrack is equally revolutionary, with bird cries coordinated by Hitch's most famous composer, Bernard Herrmann, in place of conventional instrumental scoring. He and Hitchcock turned the bird attacks into an almost unbearable symphony of terror, making THE BIRDS a success that still seems innovative in its fiftieth year.

In attendance: Tippi Hedren.

THE BIRDS
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