The Birds (1963) dir. Alfred Hitchcock

7/14 @ Wharf District Park


They just don’t make them like this anymore, do they? But maybe they never really did — The Birds might be singular. A horror movie without a villain, killers without motive, a conspicuous lack of the supernatural: in the hands of another director, it might have been little more than a punchline, but with Hitchcock’s signature creepiness factor we get the descent of a weekend getaway into something sinister.

The Birds doesn’t boast much in the way of plot. Sure, there’s something of a love interest in what is, ostensibly, the foreground of the story —that is, until you realize (with help, no doubt, from that simultaneously laughable, ominous, vague, and on-the-nose title) that the real action might be going on in the background; those innocuous creatures that are just part of the scenery could, in fact, be your demise. The (modern-day) realization that a chicken is the Tyrannosaurus rex’s closest living relative suddenly doesn’t seem so silly.

Indeed, The Birds almost acts like Hitchcock’s dare to the viewer — I bet I can make you feel uneasy at the sight of a chickadee. There’s no explanation for the unprecedented avian behavior documented in the feature, and so there’s no knowing that it couldn’t actually happen. In fact, although the screenplay is based on the story of the same name by British writer Daphne du Maurier, there was some historical precedence for such incidents. Just something to ponder while attending this outdoor screening.

The Birds
dir. Alfred Hitchcock
119 min.

Part of the ongoing series: Coolidge at the Greenway

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