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The Birds (1963)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 8/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 46 | Rotten: 2

Proving once again that build-up is the key to suspense, Alfred Hitchcock successfully turned birds into some of the most terrifying villains in horror history.

75

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

Proving once again that build-up is the key to suspense, Alfred Hitchcock successfully turned birds into some of the most terrifying villains in horror history.

audience

83

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 173,902

My Rating

Movie Info

The story begins as an innocuous romantic triangle involving wealthy, spoiled Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), handsome Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), and schoolteacher Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette). The human story begins in a San Francisco pet shop and culminates at the home of Mitch's mother (Jessica Tandy) at Bodega Bay, where the characters' sense of security is slowly eroded by the curious behavior of the birds in the area. At first, it's no more than a sea gull swooping down and pecking

PG-13,

Horror, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Mar 28, 2000

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (48) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (2) | DVD (21)

Drawing from the relatively invisible literary talents of Daphne DuMaurier and Evan Hunter, Alfred Hitchcock has fashioned a major work of cinematic art, and "cinematic" is the operative term here, not "literary" or "sociological."

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Few films depict so eerily yet so meticulously the metaphysical and historical sense of a world out of joint.

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: New Yorker
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Hitch's much misappreciated follow-up to Psycho is arguably the greatest of all disaster films -- a triumph of special effects, as well as the fountainhead of what has become known as gross-out horror.

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie flaps to a plotless end.

October 7, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (11)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beneath all of this elaborate feather bedlam lies a Hitch cock-and-bull story that's essentially a fowl ball.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (13)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Alfred Hitchcock's most abstract film (1963), and perhaps his subtlest, still yielding new meanings and inflections after a dozen or more viewings.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though it lacks the psychological depth of Hitchcock's greatest works, it's characterised by a nightmarish simplicity.

October 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

This Hitchcock classic somehow strayed from favour for a while, yet in the realm of popular mythology it is now rivalled only by Vertigo or Psycho.

October 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The Birds represents better than any other Hitchcock film the extreme polarities of his universe: vicious unpredictability and moral and emotional disorder on the one hand, and rigorous stylistic control and formal organization, on the other.

December 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Classic Hitchcock horror film still gives the chills.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

The only thing dated is the special effects. The suspense holds up very well.

August 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Three Movie Buffs
Three Movie Buffs

Although not as horrifically shocking as "Psycho," "The Birds" is a more sophisticated film, and represents a high watermark in the prolific career of a true maestro of cinema.

June 17, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

Perhaps only a director of Hitchcock's caliber can make such a fowl story fly.

November 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Feels like it was made by a brilliant filmmaker who simply felt challenged by the enormity of the task. In that regard, it's close to 100 percent successful.

September 26, 2007 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Hailed as one of Hitchcock's masterpieces by some and despised by others, The Birds is certainly among the director's more complex and fascinating works.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Maybe not quite the pinnacle of Hitchcock's career but definitely in the top five.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Genuinely disturbing thriller classic from the master of suspense.

September 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Inventive classic.

August 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

This masterpiece is one of Hitchcock's purest forays into cinema; it's such a complete piece that it even gets by with two mediocre actors.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for The Birds

Inexplicably, birds begin attacking the town of Bogeda Bay, interrupting a burgeoning love affair between a socialite and a lawyer. These birds are as natural, inexplicable and inevitable as death itself.
May 19, 2014
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

In an isolated California town, birds mysteriously begin attacking people.
It's often said that a Hitchcock film has two plots: in the beginning there is an innocuous plot, but then something unexpected happens that overtakes the film. For example, Psycho is about a woman stealing money from her employer until Norman Bates appears thirty minutes later. Notorious is about a love story between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman until it becomes a spy flick about thirty minutes later. The Birds follows this formula, but the problem is that the initial story is so damn boring. The love story between Mitch and Melanie gathers no steam, and the Breaking Bad credits have more chemistry than Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren. Once the birds start pecking away at people's eyes, I had already given up on caring about these characters.
Also, the film refuses to answer why the birds go nuts, and while I don't think it's necessary that the film answer this question, the film's steadfast apathy for wherefores got overbearing when a character asked why for the fourth or fifth time.
What I can say about the film is that Hitch's work changes the way people look at the world. The Birds is not a strong film, but I did notice myself paying closer attention to birds as I drove to work. It's irrational but also the mark of director who can affect his audience in mysterious ways.
September 19, 2013
hunterjt13
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Hitchcock's The Birds, like millions before me have said and witnessed themselves, absolutely manages to turn birds into frightening monsters of terror. Hitchcock manages to build tension slowly until the build-up almost becomes unbearable and then all hell breaks loose. Obviously the special effects are dated and a little laughable at times, but nonetheless they get the point across and were much better for their time. The actors do a good job of character building during the slower first half where we get to know all of the characters. In true disaster movie fashion, the characters aren't the smartest and their circumstances for being in the wrong place at the wrong time aren't exactly the best, but Hitchcock keeps enough under wraps that you don't question their bond by the end. The film is a little long and slow in spots, but they are worth sitting through for the pay-off. Like most Hitchcock films, The Birds makes you think and lingers in your mind long after the credits roll. It's not his best film, but it's a darn good one.
June 9, 2013
jlewis07

Super Reviewer

Hitch is a pro, yah, and never forgets his audience ... but sometimes yah just gotta let the animal out and get yer own groove on, which is what ol'Al does with this outstanding fascination with the fascination with blondes ... and just what Hitch thinks about it. Tension aplenty. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I understand Ms. Hedren succumbed to exhaustion prior to the last scenes being shot ... I hope that's true and not Hitch's p.r. machinations! And yes, the birds, the birds!
February 4, 2013
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

    1. Mrs. Bundy: I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world.
    2. Melanie Daniels: These weren't a few birds.
    – Submitted by Abner H (5 months ago)
    1. Drunk: It's the end of the world!
    – Submitted by Abner H (5 months ago)
    1. Salesman: Wanna buy a monkey?
    – Submitted by Daniel C (2 years ago)
    1. Postal Clerk: Message for you, sir.
    – Submitted by Daniel C (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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