Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Birds

The Birds
Sundance Channel viewing

I'm not sure how old I was exactly - I have a feeling I was still in grade school - but I have this memory of going out somewhere with my mother and we sat down on a bench in a park. She paused to look up at the tree branches high above. When I asked why, she said she didn't want any birds leaving her presents. Ever since then, I've fallen into the same habit.

New Yorkers take birds, particularly pigeons, for granted because there are so many of them. Yeah, you see them everywhere within the five boroughs, but you don't really notice them - at least, not until they make a nuisance of themselves, like cooing all at once, or leaving presents. Sometimes you even see them in the subway stations underground. They might fly around in confusion for a little bit but I've never seen them do any harm.

I remember chasing them as a kid, and yes, I really thought I could catch one. It always frustrated me that I couldn't, nor could I tell you why I wanted to grab one so bad. Chalk it up to ignorant childhood silliness - but it was fun! My mother always hated it when I tried to chase birds, though, because it meant I'd escape her grasp.

Pigeons sometimes feel like second-class citizens here in New York (along with rats and cockroaches), so I'd hate to see them try to attack humans en masse, like in The Birds. I had only seen bits and pieces of this movie before, so this was the first time I saw the whole thing from start to finish.

I wasn't sure whether or not to expect a full-blown horror movie. I guess I figured since this was Alfred Hitchcock, he'd try and class it up somehow - and indeed, the first half is a whole lotta character-building stuff, which wasn't all that interesting. Tippi Hedren's character struck me as a stalker and a pathological liar, which wasn't necessarily bad. I just wished it had meant maintaining her antagonistic relationship with Rod Taylor longer. That would've been more interesting. Once those birds start attacking, though, watch out! They were scarier than I had expected. These are the original Angry Birds!

Okay, so we now know that Hedren and Hitch's working relationship was less than professional, at least according to Hedren. If even half of the things she says about him are true, well, I guess we can add his name to the list of talented filmmakers who are also scumbags - and that would be a shame, because Hitch is one of the all-time greats. I'm not saying she's lying about him, just that we don't know his side of the story and we never will. Regardless, it does look as if Hedren's career wasn't as big as it could have been, despite the great success of this film and her follow-up, Marnie. One certainly hopes Hitch wasn't to blame for that, for her sake.

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