Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Classic Horror: "The Birds"

This 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller has had a lingering effect on everyone who has seen it. It was loosely based on a Daphen de Maurier story. The premise? What happens if birds start going insane for no apparent reason?

You think you know the movie, but did you know that Alfred Hitchcock had a cameo. Do you know where? (answer at the bottom of this post)

Alfred Hitchcock saw Tippi Hedren in a 1962 commercial aired during the Today 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.

There is no musical score for the film except for the sounds created on the mixtrautonium, an early electronic musical instrument, by Oskar Sala, and the children singing in the school.

Did you know Tippi Hedren's daughter is Melanie Griffith?

The use of standard blue screen techniques for doing matte shots of the birds proved to be unacceptable. The rapid movement of the birds, especially their wings, caused excessive blue fringing in the shots. It was determined that the sodium vapor process could be used to do the composites. The only studio in America that was equipped for this process was the Walt Disney studio. Ub Iwerks, who had become the world's leading expert on the sodium vapor process, was assigned to this production.

The schoolhouse, in Bodega Bay, 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.

A number of endings were being considered for this film. One that was considered would have showed the Golden Gate Bridge completely covered by birds.

The doll above? Just $135.

(answer to above question: He is walking out of the pet store as she enters, and walking his own dogs) 

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