I have a great respect for Alfred Hitchcock which has led me to work my way through almost his entire catalogue over the years. My favourite Hitchcock is "To Catch a Thief," and my favourite surprise among his less well known movies was "Stage Fright" with its wonderful dialogue between father and daughter. So tonight it was "The Birds," which I'd never seen. If you're one of the three people left in the world who A) hasn't seen the movie, and B) actually cares about the plot and doesn't want spoilers, stop reading now. I'm writing for everyone who's seen it and I'll feel free to spoil.
We set up our two leads immediately - rich and beautiful practical joker and inveterate liar Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren, who was later to claim Hitchcock psychologically tortured her on the set ... she was probably telling the truth) and handsome and dashing lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor). A prank of hers leads to her being in the same small seaside town he stays in weekends, where the birds start misbehaving and attacking humans.
The movie - being Hitchcock - concentrates heavily on the human aspects of the situation - Mitch's insecure mother, Melanie's lying, Mitch's ex-girlfriend, the romance developing between Melanie and Mitch. The dialogue is better than your average Hollywood movie, but I didn't think it was up to Hitchcock's standards. Unfortunately, the effects are utterly appalling by modern standards and the movie is crammed full of what are now tired old horror movie tropes: people leaving safe places for stupid reasons, people going places alone, and my personal favourite, Melanie effectively blocking herself into a room full of birds when she was trying to exit the room.
And then there's the ending: they all get into a car and drive away from the birds. No wrap-up, no explanation, no answers to who survived or why any of it happened. Possibly my least favourite Hitchcock.