Last night I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of a gorgeous 35mm print of Alfred Hitchcock’s immortal The Birds. The screening was preceded by a Q&A between star Tippi Hedren and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. Hedren, looking foxy in leather pants at age 82(!), regaled the audience with humorous anecdotes about the shoot and her working relationship with the man she still respectfully refers to as “Mister Hitchcock” (in spite of his alleged sexual harassment of her). Hedren has probably attended so many Q&As accompanying screenings of this and Marnie over the years that I’m sure all of her stories can now be timed to the second. However, as this was my first time seeing her talk in person, I found the experience thrilling. My favorite of Hedren’s anecdotes concerned the time she dared question her director about why her character, Melanie Daniels, would travel to the attic alone in The Birds‘ famous climactic scene. Hitch’s reply? “Because I tell you to.”
The screening of The Birds was held at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre and, incredibly, admission was free. The screening was hosted by TCM’s Classic Film Festival, which, like a lot of festivals nowadays, is taking its show on the road. Needless to say, all 748 seats in the theater were taken. Here’s hoping the success of the event will bring more such screenings to Chicago in the future and here’s also hoping that the long-rumored release of The Birds on Blu-ray will happen sooner rather than later.