Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette
Plot: 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.
When audiences left the film's UK premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London, they were greeted by the sound of screeching and flapping birds from loudspeakers hidden in the trees to scare them further.
The schoolhouse, in Bodega, California, has also been known to be haunted, even back during the filming. According to Tippi Hedren, the entire cast was spooked to be there. She also mentioned how she had the feeling, while there, that "the building was immensely populated... but there was nobody there." When Hitchcock was told about the schoolhouse being haunted, according to Hedren, he was even more encouraged to film there.
Tippi Hedren's daughter Melanie Griffith was given a present by Alfred Hitchcock during the filming: a doll that looked exactly like Hedren, eerily so. The creepiness was compounded by the ornate wooden box it came in, which the young girl took to be a coffin.
Tippi Hedren was actually cut in the face by a bird in one of the shots.
Alfred Hitchcock saw Tippi Hedren in a 1962 commercial aired during the Today (1952) show and put her under contract. In the commercial for a diet drink, she is seen walking down a street and a man whistles at her slim, attractive figure, and she turns her head with an acknowledging smile. In the opening scene of the film, the same thing happens as she walks toward the bird shop. This was an inside joke by Hitchcock.
The famous poster art for the film where a woman is pictured screaming is not Tippi Hedren but is in fact Jessica Tandy taken from the scene where the birds come down the chimney.
According to Tippi Hedren, she signed a seven year contract with Alfred Hitchcock to work in "The Birds" before she even met him. She thought he meant to feature her in Hitch's TV series, but he flew in Martin Balsam to do screen tests of her in scenes from Rebecca (1940), Notorious (1946), and To Catch a Thief (1955).
Tippi Hedren's age was listed as 28 in press releases when the film came out, an unsurprising fabrication considering 33 was especially old for a Hollywood starlet making her acting debut. 1935 would be her commonly reported birth year for the next four decades until Hedren herself put a stop to it by coming out with her real age.
Hitchcock revealed on The Dick Cavett Show (1968) that 3,200 birds were trained for the movie. He said the ravens were the cleverest, and the seagulls were the most vicious.
Actress Sienna Miller portrayed Tippi Hedren in the cable movie, The Girl (2012), which dealt with Tippi's three years with Alfred Hitchcock. The film depicts Hitchcock's alleged obsession with Hedren. Hitchcock becomes infatuated with his leading lady; when she rebuffs his advances, he subjects her to a series of traumatic experiences during the filming of The Birds.
Alfred Hitchcockhas a cameo at the start of the film walking two dogs out of the pet shop
The climactic scene, in which Tippi Hedren's character is attacked in the bedroom, took seven days to shoot. Hedren said, "[It was] the worst week of my life." The physical and emotional tolls of filming this scene were so strong on her that production was shut down for a week afterward.
The film does not finish with the usual "THE END" title because Alfred Hitchcock wanted to give the impression of unending terror.
When the children are running down the street from the schoolhouse, extra footage was shot back on the Universal sound stages to make the scene more terrifying. A few of the children were brought back and put in front of a process screen on a treadmill. They would run in front of the screen on the treadmill with the Bodega Bay footage behind them while a combination of real and fake crows were attacking them. There were three rows of children and when the treadmill was brought up to speed it ran very fast. On a couple of occasions during the shoot, a number of the children in the front fell and caused the children in back to fall as well. It was a very difficult scene to shoot and took a number of days to get it right. The birds used were hand puppets, mechanical and a couple were trained live birds.
It is said that Hitchcock wanted to end the movie with the car arriving in San Francisco, only to find the Golden Gate Bridge covered with birds, giving the foreboding impression that the attacks were not over. However, due to the logistics of filming such a scene, it was never shot. In another ending that was written but never shot, the car slowly drives through Bodega Bay, and the group sees people who have fallen victim to the birds. The birds do not attack, however, until Mitch sees a clear stretch of road ahead and accelerates. The birds then begin to attack the car, but they manage to make it out of the Bay.
Near the end of the film, when Mitch carries Melanie down the stairs, it is actually Tippi Hedren's stand-in being carried by Rod Taylor. Hedren was in the hospital recovering from exhaustion after a week of shooting the scene where Melanie is trapped in the upstairs room with the birds.
Before filming the final attack scene when Melanie goes upstairs, Tippi Hedren asked Alfred Hitchcock , "Hitch, why would I do this?" Hitchcock's response was, "Because I tell you to."
For the scene in which Annie is killed, Suzanne Pleshette who played her told Alfred Hitchcock it would look good if her ear was all bloody and hanging off, so he sent her to the prop department. When it came to shooting the scene, Hitchcock had Annie facing the other way, so the viewer never sees the ear, which Pleshette recalled "was part of his delicious sense of humor."
Hitchcock's film and the original story by Daphne Du Maurier share no characters and in fact have only in common the bay-side town setting, the bird's bizarre behavior, their inexplicable tendency to launch frenzied attacks, fall dormant only to attack again later, and the title. In Du Maurier's story the main character discovers that this pattern is directly related to the rise and fall of the tides and uses this to their advantage, as opposed to the film which seems to follow the same pattern but never makes a direct connection. Also the original story takes place in Britain and centers around a man protecting his wife and two children at their isolated cottage home, as opposed to the film which centers on the spirited but troubled city dweller Melanie Daniels who travels to the California coast on a whim.
In her 2016 memoir, she wrote that the executives at Universal wanted to submit her name for Best Actress Oscar for her superb performance in Marnie (1964), but the film's director Alfred Hitchcock blocked it as a retaliatory measure for turning down his sexual advances.