Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Summer re-runs: those infernal Birds again

Tippi Hedren, 82, was in town this week for a screening of THE GIRL (that new BBC film to be shown this autumn) which has Sienna Miller playing her during the time Tippi was under contract to Hitchcock and starring in THE BIRDS and MARNIE. Its a well-documented story and advance word has it that it presents the currently revered director in a less than flattering light ... Tippi was also at an outdoor screening of THE BIRDS on Friday night at the Somerset House open air summer screenings. I just watched it again on television.

Our 'Hitchcock Summer' continues with, as per my recent posts here, the BFI showing all the films, they have a new publication out 'The 39 Steps of Alfred Hitchcock' - and television has been running some too - those essential '50s titles like REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO (the new "Sight & Sound" number one, in their latest 10-year poll. see post below), NORTH BY NORTHWEST which is a viewing staple, and PSYCHO - which stunned me again after 20 years or so - see my post below - It is perhaps the most perfectly made film of all time; a disturbing black comedy, though the humour may not be apparent on first viewing. Some see THE BIRDS as a comedy too. Though one has the dvds one simply has to watch them again - they are such rich and complex films one just enjoys them all over again and we continue to find new moments in them.

The Mattel 'Tippi being pecked' doll
I simply revel in THE BIRDS and could watch it every week. I like the opening moments with Tippi in the black outfit crossing the San Francisco street and then once she passes the newsagent kiosk there is a very neat edit and we are at the pet shop set for that first wonderful scene with Mitch Brenner and the very poised Melanie dialling the telephone with her pencil, then its into the famous green suit (with fur coat, bag, gloves) and we head off to Bodega Bay .... even the bit parts are nicely played here and of course Suzanne Pleshette and Jessica Tandy supply two other perfect roles along with Tippi. The set-pieces: the attack on the town and later the Brenner house and Melanie going up the stairs ... are still stunningly done. There has been talk of proposed remakes but why bother ....
The dvd extras are extensive showing her commercials which attracted Hitch initially, and her screen tests - Hitch engaged Martin Balsam to play scenes with her, there is also a deleted scene with Mitch and Melanie (in that nightdress she bought) talking that morning while Lydia drives to see the neighbour, which Hitch felt did not add anything. Fascinating stuff.  I now want to browse a 1976 issue of Canadian film magazine "Take One" devoted to all things Hitch. I forgot I had that! and Camille Paglia's fascinating BFI book on THE BIRDS.  I must get out that triple pack I picked up a while ago with MARNIE (which I have not seen since its release), FRENZY (ditto, with its very mixed reputation) and TORN CURTAIN - the one Hitch I never wanted to see, so maybe its time I did.


  1. Wow! I didn't know you posted about "The Birds"!
    Really enjoy seeing that "The birds" Barbie.

    You cover many things about the film that I didn't get around to, so I hope you don't mind if I add a link to this blog at the bottom of my post. Fans of the film would enjoy this.
    Glad to know there's someone else out there who can watch this film over and over again!

  2. Love this film, too. Have loved it since seeing it in ... was it really 1963 ? That makes me really old ! No-one could hold a pencil like Tippi ! -- Pearl