Released after of a string of timeless masterpieces—“Vertigo”, “North by Northwest” and “Psycho”—Alfred Hitchcock’s Bay Area Romance/Fowl Terror mash-up “The Birds” might not be as pitch-perfect as those three titles. However, the seamless romance-to-horror switcheroo during the second act, the decision not to use any non-diagetic music, and the screenplay refusing to explain the reason behind the sudden surge of pissed-off pigeons, were all original and daring touches back in 1963. Now you can learn more about the production of “The Birds” via a couple of vintage interviews with Hitchcock and star Tippi Hedren, conducted shortly after the film’s completion.
During the interview, Hitch, the personification of a Valium with a triple-chin, describes the intense prep work that went into the production, which made it easier to accomplish some of the complex special effects shots. He’s also perhaps the only human being in the history of the planet who can recite a textbook definition of seagulls and still manage to make them sound terrifying. Hedren, on the other hand, is more reserved as she whispers her more-than-likely-studio-provided answers.
Watching these interviews, it’s hard not to think about the controversy surrounding Hitch and Hedren’s relationship. Hedren insists to this day that the only reason Hitch turned her into a star was because he wanted to have an affair with her. According to her story, when she responded to Hitchcock’s sexual advances with the ’60s version of “Eww, gross!”, he did everything he could to destroy her career. That is, after trying to get in her pants again by casting her in “Marnie.”
Both Team Tippi and Team Hitch have been supporting or denying these allegations since they surfaced. The 2012 HBO movie “The Girl” didn’t help matters much as it relied a hundred-percent on Hedren’s story. A performance by Toby Jones as Hitch looked even more like a low-budget Fat Bastard from “Austin Powers” than Anthony Hopkins’ depiction in “Hitchcock,” released the same year.
Despite Hitchcock and Hedren’s many disagreements, these interviews show they both wholeheartedly agree that seagulls are soulless killing machines and should be wiped off the face of the Earth. You can watch the interview below. [Eyes On Cinema]