Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

The Birds (1963)

Lydia: I wish I were a stronger person. I lost my husband four years ago, you know. It's terrible how you depend on someone else for strength and then - suddenly all the strength is gone, and you're alone. I'd love to relax some time. I'd love to be able to sleep.

When we talk about terrific performances in Alfred Hitchcock movies we really should mention Jessica Tandy in The Birds more -- even though she was only six years older than Rod Taylor as her son I never don't believe her as his mother, and she's so touchingly broken in it. She's a perfect mirror image of Tippi's character and other choices and pathways for women in ways the fascinating film only hints at. Plus Tandy's soundless scream after finding the farmer's pecked-out eyeholes is one of the greatest displays of fear ever put on celluloid: 

Anyway The Birds came out sixty years ago today! I've seen it dozens of times and every time I do all I can think of is how angry my mother told me she was once at the ending because nothing happens, lol. Gotta love Hitch at his most experimental! And speaking of -- there's a really good piece over at Inverse today that talks to a few filmmakers, including Skinamarink's Kyle Edward Ball and Tar's Todd Field, about how influential the lack of a score in The Birds was on their work. (I do take issue with the piece's mention of the A Quiet Place movies though, because those are absolutely slathered in obnoxious braying score and that totally ruins them, for me anyway.)


Shawny said...

Good call-out on the A Quiet Place films. The terror was never fully realized for that very reason. A better film to bring up is the Invisible Man remake, using silence as terror.

joel65913 said...

Completely agree about the power of Jessica's performance in that scene. It's not just the silent scream but the unbalanced run up the path where she clearly doesn't have control and her gait is looping and swaying. She's wonderful in the whole film although Suzanne Pleshette will forever remain my favorite!

My sister and brother-in-law reacted the same way to the ending. They like the literal, spelled out, step by step explanation. No ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

Tandy was 21 years older (she was born in 1909, Taylor in 1930).