The Birds (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock directs Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor and Jessica Tandy in this disaster horror where a murmuration of birds attack a bayside town in increasing waves.

Outwardly this looks like a classical, smoothed, technicolour entertainment. Yet there are very few movies out there like The Birds. The first hour is a teasing rom-com then it eventually “From Dusk Till Dawn”’s us with the first lone bird attack… but even after a couple of set pieces where eyes are pecked out and school kids are chased (and the tension is ramped way, way, way up) we are still focussing on the seething sexual mania of all the women in the town. I know all about Tippi and Hitchcock’s dark backstory. But The Birds does feel a touch misogynistic even taken at face value. Every woman is willing to make their life a misery over that plank Rod Taylor!? The hysteria over a new fertile female in town means nobody can even think rationally over the apocalyptic threat they are facing. And that feels just as creepy as the feathered crowds amassing in the lulls between invasions. As a horror, when it hits… it hits hard… you just wish Hitch slapped us about a bit sooner into the runtime. Works better at midnight, in the house by yourself… And Hedren, unfortunately in her last major role, is excellent. Imperfect but iconic.


Perfect Double Bill: Marnie (1964)

I write regular features about live comedy for British Comedy Guide here


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