The Birds

A couple strikes up a relationship after a chance meeting at a San Francisco pet store, but paranoia and hysteria ensue when all the birds they encounter afterward become violent. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock
Rod TaylorTippi HedrenJessica Tandy
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Suzanne Pleshette
Alfred Hitchcock
Universal City Studios Product
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.7 out of 5 stars

6930 global ratings

  1. 84% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Mark N.Reviewed in the United States on August 24, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A top notch cast, script and solid directing is why "The Birds" still holds up even after 55 years.
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In its day, the early 1960s, "The Birds" was considered controversial and shocking. Even in the late 60s into the early 70s when I had first seen "The Birds" on tv, it was still pretty shocking though in comparison to the movies being filmed in our current age, "The Birds", with the exception of a few scenes, is considered to be quite tame. The reason this Hitchcock movie still holds up after 55 years is its solid directing and top notch cast with Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy, Suzanne Pleshette, Veronica Cartwright and of course Tippi Hedren. Tippi Hedren is the reason I come back to this classic. There is something very deep and absolute about Tippi Hedren's presence in this movie that draws me in each time I've seen it though I could never really put my finger on just exactly why. There is a helplessness and vulnerable quality to her portrayal of the character "Melanie Daniels". The conundrum is that in the same instances of that helplessness and vulnerability, Melanie Daniels is shrewd, intelligent and tough as nails. Of course that isn't rare by any means. Many actors are able to exude those same qualities but I doubt that any other actor could've played that role as well as Hedren had. Rod Taylor is another strong actor and the only criticism I have for this movie (and it's a minor criticism) is that his character "Mitch Brenner" sometimes comes across as too sympathetic and over protective towards Hedren's character. In my opinion that interferes with the antagonistic nature of their relationship and subtly stunts the chemistry between the two characters. Veronica Cartwright had the amazing ability to cry convincingly on cue and Jessica Tandy is a fine character actor as well as Pleshette. I love this movie and highly recommend it !!
31 people found this helpful
Unfrozen Cave Man ProgrammerReviewed in the United States on February 25, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Angry Birds
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The first half of the movie makes complete sense if you assume Mitch is gay and maintains a bachelor pad in San Francisco so as not to rub the noses of his dependent mother and sister in his wicked other lifestyle.

And i mean everything falls into place. Richard Deacon (gay in real life), resplendent in his pornstache, Suzanne Pleshette bitchy and catty and practically blurting out the reason her romance with Mitch went nowhere ("San Francisco? I guess that's where *everybody* meets Mitch"), the reverse oedipal complex of an icy, razor-tongued mother forcing her son to behave as a stand-in for her dead husband (He keeps calling her "dear" and "darling" while trying to talk her down from a fit of jealousy over inviting Melanie Daniels to stay overnight) ... my skin started to crawl long before the birds began to attack.

I've seen this movie several times before, but this was the first time on a big HDTV, and it was effective. I never realized how much time they spent showing the birds stabbing, rending, and tearing the flesh of their enemies, or how claustrophobic the outdoors can be when death comes from above.

Indoors our outdoors, there was no escape from millions of little hostile aircraft. I imagine the feeling of dread was like what what living in London at the height of the Blitz was like; all these people trying very hard to adapt to the threat because they were unwilling or unable to flee it.

That's why the ending was perfect. Fade to black. The family escaped the plague of blackbirds but for how long? How was Richard Deacon going to react when Mitch brought his mother and sister to his tony Castro apartment, or did he put them up at one of the hotels between the Union Square pet shop where the story began, and the entrance to Chinatown at the corner of Bush and Grant?

Only Dr. Freud knows for sure.
30 people found this helpful
Kira S.Reviewed in the United States on January 22, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A classic
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I've seen this movie at least a dozen times and I never tire of it, although I do wait a few years between viewings because it is so intense. It became even more intense for me after I watched "The Girl", a 2012 movie starring Sienna Miller and Toby Jones, about the antagonistic relationship between Hitchcock and Hedren. Apparently he made advances toward her, as he did to all his ice queen stars, and she rebuffed him. So he was unspeakably brutal in some of the scenes in "The Birds" and "Marnie," the two films he did with Hedren. Remember the attic scene in "The Birds" where Hedren is attacked over and over? He made her do that scene over and over and over again, and although he promised that the birds which actually attacked Hedren would only be mechanical ones controlled by special effects people, he did not keep that promise. Things were even worse on the set of "Marnie."

I can't watch "The Birds" now without thinking what a despicable person Hitchcock was, and how he very nearly ruined the career of a young, beautiful woman simply because she refused to play his "games." In fact, between 1965, when "Marnie" was released (the year after "The Birds" came out) and 1970, the only roles listed on Tippi Hedren's IMDb page are two guest starring roles on television and one movie. Obviously Hitchcock blackballed her in the movie industry but apparently there were some people who knew the score, because from 1970 on Hedren worked in the industry fairly steadily.

I am not discussing "The Birds" because I think everything has pretty much been said by other reviewers over the last fifty years. As I said, I have watched it many times. These two films and "Psycho" are the only ones that Hitchcock made that I care about at all. I've seen some of the others, and I did enjoy the famous "Que Sera, Sera" scene in "The Man Who Knew Too Much," but other than that, you can have Hitchcock. I don't watch movies featuring actors I know to be mean or violent and the same applies to directors, producers, etc.
13 people found this helpful
Mike IReviewed in the United States on July 26, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Blu-Ray of This Classic Is Well Worth It!!
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The Blu-Ray Transfer is excellent! It's the best I have ever seen this movie look! It's crisp and clear...just a couple of places with a few seconds where you can notice slight grain. For a film made in 1963, it's amazing how good this looks!
14 people found this helpful
Computer DudeReviewed in the United States on December 16, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A classic movie, released over 50 years ago... but it still makes me cringe every time I watch it
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This classic Alfred Hitchcock movie will not disappoint... It was released in 1963 and, as such, offers an opportunity to re-live American society as it was over 50 years ago....i.e. the clothes, the hairstyles, the cars, the buildings, how people interacted with each interesting to watch!!
Hitchcock was a master of suspense....his movie-making techniques were cutting-edge at the time.... The angles of the camera shots, the different visual perspectives seen throughout in the film, the strategic use of silence, and especially the special-effects of all of the bird scenes.... each of these and even more cinematic details directed by Hitchcock plays its own important part in adding to the overall suspense and drama found in this movie.
You will never look at a bird the same way again after seeing this movie.
5 people found this helpful
johnfReviewed in the United States on October 10, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Relevant Today and as Great as Ever.
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THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS> I TRIED TO KEEP IT TO A MINIMUM BUT THERE"S NO OTHER WAY TO DISCUSS THE FILM. I have to say that Amazon's streamed picture is absolutely beautiful in its clarity and color, a demonstration-worthy image. Streaming has come a long way.

Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds has over time, become a classic among classics. Along with Psycho it is one of the two films most associated with him. It's scenes are still remembered. It does not matter if he made some better films, this will be one of his most immortal. Ask someone what Rebecca was about or even North by Northwest or Vertigo. Hitchcock was at the top of his form in the early 60's Since 1954's Dial M for Murder he had made a succession of films that were artistically superb and mostly very popular with audiences. He had been smart enough to work relatively independently and not be assigned films by some studio head. Both Psycho and The Birds were closer to horror than anything he had previously done and both broke cinematic norms.

The Birds was slightly disappointing in it's day in terms of box office. Though it made five times its cost and was one of the ten biggest films of 1963 (grossing 11.4 million), it paled in comparison with Psycho, the number two box office film of 1960 that made an astounding 32 million or 40 times its cost. Psycho had been a national sensation in the fall of 1960. It was a major topic of conversation and even kids like myself were aware of it even if our parents wouldn't let us see it. Everybody kept the secrets of the film, too. It was kind of like a new thrill ride: people dared each other to see it. Psycho violated a major unspoken rule of films by killing off its ostensible heroine mid-film. But it was a satisfactory film for the audience because in the end things were resolved and justice was served.

The Birds was something else. It violated cinematic norms in a much greater way than Psycho. It had no psychologist at the end to explain everything to the audience, and most of all The Birds had an open and unresolved ending. So unresolved was it that when the group slowly pulls away in Melanie's Aston Martin there was no traditional title saying "The End". This truly disturbed people in a way that Psycho didn't (some people are still disturbed by it). Technically The Birds belonged to a long chain of sci-fi films where some kind of monster disrupts normal life (Frankenstein and Dracula farther back or any number of atomically mutated, gigantic creatures in the fifties). No matter what, the source of the trouble is found and the menace killed, often only when a sudden hunch or discovery shows a way. The Birds didn't do this and the word of mouth was that people were confused by it. Thus it didn't catch on as big with the general public. But over the years its reputation has grown and its scenes have become famous. Who can forget Melanie sitting outside the playground while the schoolchildren sing "Rissedy Rossity" or the birds pecking through the back door after Mitch has boarded up the house?

The Birds was quite prophetic in its way. It came out in early 1963, before the Kennedy assassination that forever changed the country. Up to then, since the mid 50's the country was full of an optimism and a feeling that everything was going to work out beautifully. (This, of course was not true for everyone but it was the general tenor of the times). In Bodega Bay everybody leaves their doors unlocked. But beneath that all kinds of problems were lurking that would eventually break out. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring had just been published. Until then no one had any idea of environmental problems, and that's just one example. Looking back from today's vantage point it seems a remarkably prescient film: the birds have, in fact, come home to roost. Within the film reasons were only guesses and unsatisfactory ones at best. In the famous restaurant scene Mrs. Bundy, the ornithologist (and great plot device) suggests, "It's mankind, rather, who insists upon making it difficult for life on this planet." while the town drunk quotes Ezekiel and offers a theological explanation as God's wrath. But neither suggestion sticks and they are abandoned.

It's not that Hitchcock was himself socially prophetic. He had been inspired by a 1961 incident when thousands of seagulls had crashed into homes on the Monterey Coast; in that case because they had eaten small fish tainted by poisonous plankton. He remembered that he had already bought the rights to du Maurier's short story with the intention of using it for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Everything works in this film, even the things that some people criticize. The actors, thrown into a typical Hitchcock stew of psychological issues, are all perfect in their roles. Rod Taylor's Mitch is supposed to be emotionally distant. Tippi Hedren was supposed to be somewhat aloof and buttoned down. She did not have much of a career due to her problems with Hitchcock, but she owns this role forever. Jessica Tandy seems a bit old to have an eleven year old daughter in Cathy (Veronica Cartwright), but the ages do work out. Suzanne Pleshette is great as Annie Hayworth, Mitch's old fling and current town schoolteacher. Even the small roles handled by character actors are memorable. The special effects are a little apparent at times, especially during the bird attacks but they were state of the art in their day and still mostly hold up. In a film this good you don't question things like that. The schoolhouse is actually miles inland from Bodega Bay but you'd never guess that from the film. That final shot where they pull out of the driveway? That's a composite of 32 separately filmed parts. And the lack of music is brilliant. It's the first thing you notice as the film begins, that something is odd about this opening, even if you don't quite figure out what it is. Later on the silences are deafening.
16 people found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on September 21, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Liked the lead ups as much as the bird attacks
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Alfred Hitchcock chose the San Francisco Bay Area as the setting for The Birds which is always a big plus for any movie. He also started things off with a bit of comedy. Tippi Hedren for instance is driving to Bodega Bay like a mad woman and as she takes sharp turns two birds on the floor lean to and fro. Then she pilots a boat across the bay to Rod Taylor’s home wearing a fur coat and high heels. There are the female conflicts as well. Hedren meets Suzanne Pleshette who used to go out with Taylor. There’s the stark contrast between Hedren the blond and Pleshette the brunette. Then Taylor’s mother Jessica Tandy is extremely protective of her son and is suspicious when Hedren shows up.

All that’s background however because people just want to see the birds attack everyone. I have to say they did a good job with the birds especially given the limited special effects at the time. I think the best parts aren’t actually the assaults but the large flocks of birds sitting around everywhere later in the film because you don’t know if or when they’re going to attack. Very menacing.
RichieRichReviewed in the United States on June 13, 2018
2.0 out of 5 stars
Disappointing Alfred!
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Arrived as pictured. Film is in color. Very slow and very disappointing ending. Not a favorite Hitchcock movie and only can recommend this if you need to add it to your video library to complete a collection. Lots of extras which was interesting and was fun to learn about how the movie was done.
9 people found this helpful
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