Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"How Could We Possibly HOPE To Fight Them?!"
on May 17, 2004
That quote used in my review title is from my favorite scene in 1963's "The Birds", Alfred Hitchcock's tale of nature gone crazy. "The Birds" stars Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Jessica Tandy, and one of my favorites of all-time -- the beautiful Suzanne Pleshette.
The underrated Miss Pleshette plays school teacher "Annie Hayworth" in this movie, and is just great in her part, IMO. This was just the 4th movie role for the then-25-year-old Suzanne. For Tippi Hedren, age 31 when the movie was shot in late 1962, "The Birds" was only her 2nd motion picture appearance (and first U.S.-made film).
"The Birds" is all about how the whole bird world suddenly goes amok and begins orchestrating concentrated, unprovoked attacks on the population of a small California community. Hitchcock (as usual) builds the suspense up, little by little, during the film. Despite the lack of computer-generated technology, Hitchcock still manages to create a quite realistic array of special effects, featuring hundreds of real and fake birds blended together in many scenes.
As I said at the top, my favorite scene in this flick is not any of the various "attack" scenes -- but, instead, the nerve-racking, tension-filled "Tides Restaurant" scene (Chapter #12 on the DVD), which is dialogue-driven and very well done, and eerie, in my opinion. The restaurant scene is made all the more believable and realistic by the casting of England-born actress Ethel Griffies as bird expert "Mrs. Bundy". Griffies was 84 years of age when she made "The Birds". It was her 90th (of 92) films.
Mrs. Bundy's presence in this scene (coupled with her character's "expertise" on all matter bird-related) roots the scene in "fact", and makes these "impossible" bird attacks on the town even more frightening. When Mrs. Bundy says that all the continents of the world "probably contain more than 100-billion birds!", it puts things in better context. And now the audience begins thinking: "Gee, what would happen if all of these birds attacked at once?" A scary proposition indeed.
This Universal "Collector's Edition" of "The Birds" was released initially on March 28, 2000 -- 37 years to the day after the movie premiered in theaters. This single-disc, single-sided DVD delivers a finely-tuned Anamorphic Widescreen image, in its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. The print looks very clean and virtually blemish-free. Colors look natural and "warm". The audio is in 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono (in both English and French).
The Hitchcock series of Universal "Collector's Edition" DVDs all contain very informative (and virtually feature-length) documentaries. And "The Birds" DVD is no exception. The "Making Of" program for this film is terrific. A very satisfying effort from the "featurette master", Laurent Bouzereau.
Here's a complete summary of this disc's Special Features .................
>> "All About The Birds" Documentary -- Lots of interesting behind-the-camera tidbits are offered up by the stars and crew in this featurette. Running time = 79 minutes.
>> Newsreel Excerpt featuring remarks by Alfred Hitchcock (Run Time = 1:55.) -- I love this extra bonus, for Mr. Hitchcock's droll, humorous comment to his audience regarding the title of his current film project. He dryly utters: "There were four words in the title. But we cut the first word, "FOR" -- and call it simply 'The Birds'." (This is followed by prodigious laughter from the "National Press Club" gathering. LOL!)
>> Another Newsreel Clip, "The Birds Is Coming" (Length = 1:15).
>> "The Original Ending" -- This "alternate" (and very intriguing) ending to the film was never shot. But this bonus offers up some script pages and original sketches of what the scene would have entailed. This ending is also discussed in some detail during the "All About The Birds" feature on this disc as well.
>> "Deleted Scene" -- This, like the "Original Ending" extra, isn't a video bonus either. It details (through script pages and still photos) a scene from the original script that was never used in the final cut.
>> "Tippi Hedren's Screen Test" -- This is really some cool stuff. A lengthy "test" featuring Miss Hedren acting out several scenes (which have nothing to do with this film) opposite Martin Balsam (who, of course, had co-starred in Mr. Hitchcock's previous picture, "Psycho"). You can even hear "Hitch" giving directions off-camera. Video quality isn't very good and it hasn't been color-corrected, but it doesn't really matter here. This is a fabulous bonus, lasting 10 minutes. I'm glad this was dug out of the archives for this DVD release.
>> "Stroryboard Sequence" -- This "Gallery"-like bonus shows storyboards linked with actual related film frames from the movie. Nicely done.
>> Original Trailer.
>> Photo Gallery.
>> Production Notes, plus Cast & Crew Bios (text features).
The DVD's Menus are simple and "static", with the Main Menu accompanied by the only real "score" that shows up in this film -- the sound of flocks of birds (up to no good, of course). It's quite amazing to think that this picture contains absolutely NO MUSIC whatsoever. Not a single note. But Hitchcock's previous effort, "Psycho", if placed in the same "music-less" state, would have been much less effective. Can you just imagine "Psycho" without that Bernard Herrmann score? Impossible! And, by the same token, it's difficult to imagine "The Birds" WITH any music. Just wouldn't "feel" right somehow. Mr. Hitchcock worked wonders, with AND without musical adornment attached to his feature films. I suppose that's part of the reason he was "The Master".
The DVD has with it a 4-page booklet, with a Chapter List for the 20 chapter breaks on the disc; plus some personal notes by Alfred Hitchcock and his daughter, Pat (who oft-times popped up in small roles in her dad's movies -- although she was not in "The Birds"). This paper insert also re-produces five "Lobby Cards" advertising the film.
For all Alfred Hitchcock aficionados, this DVD of "The Birds" is a must-have item. Fine picture quality, good bonuses, and .... Suzanne Pleshette, to boot. What MORE do you want, for heaven's sake?! :)