Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
Sometimes you just need to reach back into old Hollywood and enjoy a classic! Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is one of the classics that I love to re-watch and enjoy. No this film isn’t necessarily super scary and it won’t keep you up at night, but it is entertaining and very well performed by the talented cast.
This is billed as a “horror” but its really much more of a thriller, an entertaining thriller. I think Halloween needs to be a healthy mixture of entertaining “popcorn films” and true horror films. So why should you give this classic a chance?
Hollywood heavyweights such as Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, and the great Jessica Tandy all give terrific performances as the main three characters. Quick side note: for those who may not know, Tippi Hedren started a Hollywood dynasty of sorts because her daughter is Melanie Griffith and her granddaughter is Dakota Johnson… those who don’t know of Tippi may be interested to know this.
Anyways, Hedren is the lead in The Birds and what I love about her performance is that she’s able to portray herself as a likable lead. She’s a woman who has her eyes on a man she really likes and plays it cheeky in a fun way. I think most of us can relate to her and find her to be a leading lady we like. Rod Taylor is able to be likable also and not only that but also charming. He carries that old Hollywood dashing male charm.
Taylor’s character is just as cheeky as Hedren’s and they match up very well. Their exchanges are charming and fresh and the onscreen chemistry they’re able to churn up is quite impressive. These are two actors who just click in a really lovely way.
As for Jessica Tandy, one of the all time greats of Hollywood, she plays a supporting role in The Birds but does it very well. I will say that her performance here isn’t as affecting as her performances in films such as Fried Green Tomatoes and Driving Miss Daisy, but like I said she’s strictly supporting here. The other supporting cast members do a fine job also. Suzanne Pleshette and Veronica Cartwright both give skilled dramatic performances.
Acting aside, the other aspects of The Birds are just as skilled and well done. The script handles its characters nicely and provides us with some good dramatic scenes as well as some intense/suspenseful scenes. The scenery is beautiful to look at and the whole film is shot with obvious expertise. And for 1963, most of the suspenseful scenes are done very well.
There is one scene in particular that I must praise because it’s handled so well and the effect really is haunting. It has to be the most frightening part of The Birds. This scene involves a discovery that Tandy’s character makes and I thought it was so effective in being both scary and shocking. I also like that there is a sense of great mystery around why this is happening and why the birds are this way. I think keeping a mystery about it makes it more interesting and actually, scarier.
Another thing I really like is how the ending is handled. The threat builds and builds as The Birds goes on and reaches great magnitude by the end, things get to the where it couldn’t possibly be worse and that adds a lot to the sense of suspense. Like I said, this film isn’t going to scare the pants off you and anyone should totally fine sleeping after watching it, but I do think that it’s entertaining and manages to create some good suspense, especially towards the end.
The Birds is a classic film that should absolutely be viewed due to it’s fine performances, well written script, and suspense.