"I hardly think a few birds are going to bring about the end of the world"
A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.
Before and since "The Birds", you've had all manner of creatures to make their impact in horror films. The brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock is that he doesn't go for the obvious - the great white shark, the rampaging gorilla, or the Jurassic dinosaur. What could be more welcome than a few songbirds to brighten up and add some cheer to an otherwise ordinary day? As the crows congregated in the schoolyard it seemed like they exuded evil in a strange way, foreshadowing an event outside the normal scheme of things. With all the slash and gore spectacle prevalent in horror films today, one has a keen sense as a viewer that nothing presented on screen is real. But take one look at the plucked out eyes of farmer Dan Fawcett slumped against the wall of his home, and you begin to wonder, wow! could something like that ever really happen?
Offsetting the grim spectacle of the bird attacks, I thought Hitchcock did a nicely nuanced job with some offbeat humor that might not seem obvious at first. Would a pair of caged lovebirds really respond to inertia the way the ones in Melanie's car did taking those curves on the road to Bodega Bay? I thought that was a neat touch. And how about shortly after the sparrow attack at the Daniels home, when the diner waitress orders baked potato with the fried chicken? Hitchcock's little way of a preemptive strike on the feathered set before things really get going.
As for the players, Tippi Hedren did a commendable job in virtually her very first screen role. There was something mysterious to her persona that might have been construed as to contributing to the bird attacks. That idea was voiced later in the story by the panicked mother who wanted to leave town as quickly as possible with her daughter. I couldn't really warm up to the idea of Veronica Cartwright and Rod Taylor portraying a brother and sister with the apparent age disparity, but that wound up working out OK.
Before closing I have to throw out this bit of ornithological trivia, and I'm curious why Hitchcok didn't use it in the film. There was in fact a reference to a flock of crows in the picture, but the more accurate description would have been a 'murder of crows'. Seriously, you could look it up, the term came about because a group of crows is known to kill an already dying animal in order to feed. A whole bunch of them looks kind of spooky too!