The Hitchcock Haul: The Birds (1963)

birdsI hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween weekend last week! I know I did. I obviously meant to post this last Tuesday, but my life seems to have grown much busier lately, and I have a harder time fitting everything in. Better late then never, right? So, last year for Halloween I watched Hitchcock’s Psycho. This year, I thought it would be a good idea to watch the other film people generally regard as one of his “horrors”, The Birds. I had never seen The Birds before, and I really had no idea what to expect. The concept seemed incredibly ridiculous, and yet it’s based on a story by one of my favorites; Daphne du Maurier. If you all remember correctly, she wrote the novel Rebecca, which was also adapted by Hitchcock and won him his only Best Picture Oscar.

The Birds opens with a minor (and perhaps adorable) confrontation between Tippi Hedren‘s spoiled socialite Melanie Daniels and lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) in a pet store. Mitch does not approve of her over-the-top practical jokes (that seem to have landed her with criminal charges), and Melanie is both annoyed and fascinated by him. As a form of revenge and flirtation, Melanie buys a pair of love birds and attempts to leave them at Mitch’s door, but when his neighbor informs her that he is out of town for a while, she makes the slightly crazy decision to stalk him out in Bodega Bay up in Northern Cali. She goes all the way out there and tricks locals into giving up personal information about Mitch, his family, and where they live. Not creepy and violating at all. She then proceeds to break into his waterfront house and leaves the birds not for Mitch, but for his little sister Cathy. Sounds like all your exs, right?

Mitch and Mel Forevs

Mitch and Mel Forevs

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The Hitchcock Haul: Rebecca (1940)

rebecca1940dvdThis film has a special place in my heart. It, along with the novel by Daphne du Maurier, turned me onto mysteries and thrillers — something I’ve been obsessed with ever since.

Just to set the bar, we’re talking about a movie that has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned Hitchcock his only Best Picture Oscar. It is a beautifully haunting and tantalizing film, and yet still not as good as the book.

rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurier

When I was younger and starting to get into Hitchcock, my Mom would talk about the film Rebecca and how great it was, but she could never get her hands on it to watch. When Netflix came out, we signed up right away (it was like destiny), and one of the first films my Mom put on the queue was Rebecca. It was unavailable for YEARS! Finally, after I graduated from college, we were mailed our copy.

At this point I had already read the novel out of anticipation. It delighted me! The scandal was incredibly juicy for something written in 1938, and the psychological horror that was prevalent throughout was amazing. The important twists in plot impressed me. They were both shocking and plausible. It’s a tale of sexual deviance, resentment, and coping with the past.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Jamaica Inn  (1939)

Jamaica_inn_2480003bSet in the early 1800s, Jamaica Inn takes place in seaside Cornwall, which apparently was a bit disorderly and mutinous back in the day. The area, comprised of poor and perhaps desperate people, was very prone to shipwrecks. There weren’t any proper lighthouses, just a few pathetic beacons from homes along the coast. What happens when you combine shipwrecks and desperate people? Some pretty devious crime, that’s what. Add a ballsy young lady with a sympathetic heart, and you’ve got a fascinating stage for Hitchcock’s first adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier work (the others being Rebecca and The Birds). Unfortunately, it’s not as good as it should have been.

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