Alfred Hitchcock sometimes gets lumped in with other “masters of horror,” but during his mid-1930s to early 1970s heyday, Hitchcock really only made two movies that could be considered horror films in the conventional sense: 1960’s Psycho and 1963’s The Birds. And on the surface, the latter seems so out-of-character for Hitchcock—a quasi-supernatural eco-horror picture, adapted from a Daphne du Maurier short story, about flocks of killer birds descending on a coastal California resort community—that even a lot of devoted Hitchcock fans aren’t sure what to make of it. But Hitchcock’s approach to The Birds is very much in character, following a plucky, fashionable young woman (played by Tippi Hedren) as she’s gradually overwhelmed by circumstance. The pacing is deliberate, with Hitchcock and screenwriter Evan Hunter paying as much attention to the heroine’s personal life as to the avian menace. Like a lot of Hitchcock’s films, the suspense/thriller elements—while precisely designed and deployed—are mostly just a hook, to pull the audinece through a nuanced exploration of community, class, desire, and anxiety. The Birds airs on Turner Classic Movies at 8 p.m. Eastern.
November 20, 2014 Cable Pick Of The Day