Digital Copy Included
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds is an unforgettable masterpiece that is considered one of the most terrifying films from the Master of Suspense. When beautiful blonde Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) travels to Bodega Bay in pursuit of eligible bachelor Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), she is inexplicably attacked by a seagull. Suddenly, thousands of birds begin to flock into town, preying on schoolchildren and residents in a terrifying series of attacks. Mitch and Melanie must fight for their lives against a deadly force that cannot be explained or stopped in this film that makes you want to “hold onto something and watch!” (Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide)
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds has over time, become a classic among classics. Along with Psycho it is one of the two films most associated with him. It's scenes are still remembered. It does not matter if he made some better films, this will be one of his most immortal. Ask someone what Rebecca was about or even North by Northwest or Vertigo. Hitchcock was at the top of his form in the early 60's Since 1954's Dial M for Murder he had made a succession of films that were artistically superb and mostly very popular with audiences. He had been smart enough to work relatively independently and not be assigned films by some studio head. Both Psycho and The Birds were closer to horror than anything he had previously done and both broke cinematic norms.
The Birds was slightly disappointing in it's day in terms of box office. Though it made five times its cost and was one of the ten biggest films of 1963 (grossing 11.4 million), it paled in comparison with Psycho, the number two box office film of 1960 that made an astounding 32 million or 40 times its cost. Psycho had been a national sensation in the fall of 1960. It was a major topic of conversation and even kids like myself were aware of it even if our parents wouldn't let us see it. Everybody kept the secrets of the film, too. It was kind of like a new thrill ride: people dared each other to see it. Psycho violated a major unspoken rule of films by killing off its ostensible heroine mid-film. But it was a satisfactory film for the audience because in the end things were resolved and justice was served.
The Birds was something else. It violated cinematic norms in a much greater way than Psycho. It had no psychologist at the end to explain everything to the audience, and most of all The Birds had an open and unresolved ending. So unresolved was it that when the group slowly pulls away in Melanie's Aston Martin there was no traditional title saying "The End". This truly disturbed people in a way that Psycho didn't (some people are still disturbed by it). Technically The Birds belonged to a long chain of sci-fi films where some kind of monster disrupts normal life (Frankenstein and Dracula farther back or any number of atomically mutated, gigantic creatures in the fifties). No matter what, the source of the trouble is found and the menace killed, often only when a sudden hunch or discovery shows a way. The Birds didn't do this and the word of mouth was that people were confused by it. Thus it didn't catch on as big with the general public. But over the years its reputation has grown and its scenes have become famous. Who can forget Melanie sitting outside the playground while the schoolchildren sing "Rissedy Rossity" or the birds pecking through the back door after Mitch has boarded up the house?
The Birds was quite prophetic in its way. It came out in early 1963, before the Kennedy assassination that forever changed the country. Up to then, since the mid 50's the country was full of an optimism and a feeling that everything was going to work out beautifully. (This, of course was not true for everyone but it was the general tenor of the times). In Bodega Bay everybody leaves their doors unlocked. But beneath that all kinds of problems were lurking that would eventually break out. Rachel Carson's Silent Spring had just been published. Until then no one had any idea of environmental problems, and that's just one example. Looking back from today's vantage point it seems a remarkably prescient film: the birds have, in fact, come home to roost. Within the film reasons were only guesses and unsatisfactory ones at best. In the famous restaurant scene Mrs. Bundy, the ornithologist (and great plot device) suggests, "It's mankind, rather, who insists upon making it difficult for life on this planet." while the town drunk quotes Ezekiel and offers a theological explanation as God's wrath. But neither suggestion sticks and they are abandoned.
It's not that Hitchcock was himself socially prophetic. He had been inspired by a 1961 incident when thousands of seagulls had crashed into homes on the Monterey Coast; in that case because they had eaten small fish tainted by poisonous plankton. He remembered that he had already bought the rights to du Maurier's short story with the intention of using it for an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Everything works in this film, even the things that some people criticize. The actors, thrown into a typical Hitchcock stew of psychological issues, are all perfect in their roles. Rod Taylor's Mitch is supposed to be emotionally distant. Tippi Hedren was supposed to be somewhat aloof and buttoned down. She did not have much of a career due to her problems with Hitchcock, but she owns this role forever. Jessica Tandy seems a bit old to have an eleven year old daughter in Cathy (Veronica Cartwright), but the ages do work out. Suzanne Pleshette is great as Annie Hayworth, Mitch's old fling and current town schoolteacher. Even the small roles handled by character actors are memorable. The special effects are a little apparent at times, especially during the bird attacks but they were state of the art in their day and still mostly hold up. In a film this good you don't question things like that. The schoolhouse is actually miles inland from Bodega Bay but you'd never guess that from the film. That final shot where they pull out of the driveway? That's a composite of 32 separately filmed parts. And the lack of music is brilliant. It's the first thing you notice as the film begins, that something is odd about this opening, even if you don't quite figure out what it is. Later on the silences are deafening.
PHOTO 2 = version B: Front Cover (July 17, 2016)
PHOTO 3 = version A: Back Cover
PHOTO 4 = version B: Back Cover
PHOTO 5 = version B: Sticker on the front cover
Universal has issued "The Birds" on blu-ray twice, each time with a different cover (it's also in the 15 disc "Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection").
Two obvious questions:
1)) Is the 2016 edition (version B) a new digital transfer?
2) Did Universal add any deleted scenes or bonus features that were missing from Version A?
Unfortunately, the answers are No and No.
The 2014 Blu-Ray transfer was an improvement over the earlier DVD, but it was far from perfect.
Most of the blame appears to lie with the original negative.
Room for improvement.
I was hoping that Universal had found new source material in their archives, and authorized a brand new transfer of "The Birds".
What else would justify re-issuing it with a new cover?
Maybe they found a deleted scene in the vault?
But I could not find any information on the internet.
I finally gave up and ordered the damn thing.
VERDICT: The Blu-Rays are identical.
One clue: Universal Blu-Rays produced before 2015 do not have the "Resume Movie" option.
When your viewing is interrupted in the middle of a film, you cannot resume watching at the point where you left off, but have to go back to the beginning of the disc.
The "new" Blu-ray does not have the "Resume Movie" option.
This means it was produced before 2015.
So why did Universal go to all the trouble?
1) There is a sticker on the cover stating that this is part of Universal's "COLLECTIBLE POP ART SERIES" (photo five).
2) The back covers (photos 3 & 4) reveal that the "Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy" is no longer included.
BUT the offer expired on May 2, 2016 anyway.
IN SUMMATION: If you are not an aging hipster, there is no good reason to upgrade to the new Blu-Ray.
Version A: The Birds (Blu-ray + DIGITAL HD with UltraViolet)
Version B: The Birds [Blu-ray]
Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection:
available in two versions:
-- 15 film box: Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray] (2012)
-- 14 film box: Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection [Blu Ray]
The fourteen disc box is a British import.
The British box does not include "North by Northwest", but it costs a lot less.
The individual British and American Blu-Rays are identical.
Unlike most British Blu-Rays, these are region-free and should play on any US player.
ALFRED HITCHCOCK FILMOGRAPHY:
So this review won't be a total waste of time, I am including a Blu-Ray Filmography of Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock directed 56 feature films (one is lost) over a 51 year period.
To date, 32 Hitchcock films have been released on Blu-Ray.
PART ONE: BRITISH PERIOD
Alfred Hitchcock directed 26 feature-length films for British studios between 1925 and 1939.
The first ten were silent.
'The Mountain Eagle" (1927) is a lost film.
"Blackmail" (1929) is counted twice - it was Hitchcock's final silent film, and simultaneously filmed as his first talkie.
To date, the Criterion Collection has released five of the British films on Blu-Ray.
I hope more will follow, but have no inside information.
All but two of the remaining films are on DVD. The exceptions:
-- "Blackmail", the silent version (1929)
-- "Mary" (1931), the German language version of "Murder!"
These obscure titles seem to cry out for the deluxe treatment in a double bill with the readily available version of the same film, but so far no company has risen to the bait (Criterion? Kino? anybody?)
1925 The Pleasure Garden - silent film
1927 The Mountain Eagle - silent film [lost film]
1927 The Lodger - silent film The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] [coupled with "Downhill"]
1927 The Ring - silent film
1927 Downhill - silent film BLU-RAY [Criterion Collection, coupled with "The Lodger"]
1928 Easy Virtue - silent film
1928 The Farmer's Wife - silent film
1928 Champagne - silent film
1929 The Manxman - silent film
1929 Blackmail - silent version
1929 Blackmail - sound version
1930 Elstree Calling [musical comedy revue with four directors]
1930 Juno and the Paycock
1931 Mary [German language version of "Murder!" with a separate cast]
1931 The Skin Game
1931 Rich and Strange
1932 Number Seventeen
1934 Waltzes from Vienna
1934 The Man Who Knew Too Much [first version] The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
1935 The 39 Steps The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
1936 Secret Agent
1937 Young and Innocent
1938 The Lady Vanishes The Lady Vanishes (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
1939 Jamaica Inn
PART TWO: HOLLYWOOD PERIOD
30 feature films were directed by Hitchcock after he was lured to Hollywood (some of them were filmed in the UK, but for American studios)
ALL BUT THREE HAVE BEEN RELEASED ON BLU-RAY
1940 Rebecca = Criterion (recommended) or MGM blu-rays
1940 Foreign Correspondent
1941 Mr. & Mrs. Smith = DVD ONLY
1943 Shadow of a Doubt
1947 The Paradine Case
1949 Under Capricorn = DVD ONLY
1950 Stage Fright = DVD ONLY
1951 Strangers on a Train
1953 I Confess
1954 Dial M for Murder [2-D and 3-D versions]
1954 Rear Window
1955 To Catch a Thief
1955 The Trouble with Harry
1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much [second version]
1956 The Wrong Man
1959 North by Northwest
1963 The Birds
1966 Torn Curtain
1976 Family Plot
Amazon only allows ten links per review.
For Amazon links to to Hitchcock's American films on blu-ray, see Comment One (dated May 27, 2017). Click on "Oldest first"
The movies is just cheesy enough that even our 10 year old could watch it.... just covered eyes during attacks (no pun intended)
Yes it is "Alfred Hitchcock" scary and suspenseful but its also a cute movie.
Some clever one liners.
We did learn after watching the movie that the ending had been changed due to cost.
We "really" like the end.
It's a classic and well worth the $3.99 to rent it in HD
Fun family night movie.