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The Birds is Still Coming

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.

Tippi last night, looking foxy at 82:

My wife, Jill, looking foxy as Tippi last Halloween:

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About michaelgloversmith

Filmmaker, author and Film Studies instructor. View all posts by michaelgloversmith

10 responses to “The Birds is Still Coming

  • david

    I just ranked my fave Hitchcocks yesterday here http://letterboxd.com/davidzou/list/alfred-hitchcock-filmsranked/,both Tippi Hedren films are very low,but I’m interested in the Q&A session,did you ask any questions?

    BTW,your wife looks “birdy” in that pic,lol.Is she a fan of the film?

  • Zach Olmstead

    To be honest, I didn’t entirely like The Birds. It didn’t really strike me as interesting or worthwhile and the whole thing just felt rather hokey, even if that’s what Hitchcock intended. Compared to his other works and horror films in general, it’s actually pretty disappointing.

    • michaelgloversmith

      I can understand your point of view. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece on the order of Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho or North By Northwest but I DO think it’s a great film. It works as horror AND black comedy and I love how abstract it is; you never know WHY the birds attack! As my friend David Hanley says, it has to be seen on the big screen in a crowded cinema to be best appreciated.

  • Zach Olmstead

    Maybe. But chances are, I’ll always see it as one of Hitckcock’s weakest film.

    I couldn’t find a single moment that scared or made me laugh, there were several elements that lacked any sense regardless of the suspense, and the film’s quality and squandered potential make me think the director just wasn’t trying as hard as usual.

    It’s just one of those occassional classics that failed to catch my interest. I’m also in the probably 2% of the population who didn’t like Gone with the Wind, either.

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