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Daily Dose #18: Love Birds (Opening Scene of The Birds)


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#41 Catherine.g.ens

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 02:07 PM

In the opening scene of The Birds, Hitchcock is playing with the genre of romantic comedy. When Melanie and Mitch meet in the pet shop, it is a typical "meet cute" moment; Mitch assumes Melanie works at the store, and she plays along. He is looking for "love birds", which is an innuendo for the two of them finding one another attractive. However, the humor for the audience is that Melanie does not seem to know the first thing about birds. There is nothing sinister about this pet shop scene, but the fact that Hitchcock precedes the scene with the gulls flying overhead creates an interesting and ironic juxtaposition. While Melanie and Mitch both come into the store in search of birds to buy, and both have difficulty getting what they are looking for, the gulls are already descending on them just outside, of their own accord and uninvited. Therefore, Hitchcock introduces a darkness into the film from the very beginning. He seems to be trying to portray the unpredictability of life; things happen which are beyond our control.

Sound design is also used in a remarkable way in this opening scene. There is no music soundtrack, only bird sounds. The gull sounds we hear as Melanie enters the pet shop are quickly replaced by the less sinister chirping of the caged birds. This immediately shifts the mood, so Hitchcock is again playing with the genres of horror and romantic comedy in the same scene. His cameo happens early in the film, as he can be seen leaving the pet shop with two small dogs on leashes. This plays into the comedic nature of the scene, and yet the dogs are walking in front of him, almost taking him for a walk, suggesting perhaps that animals/nature will prevail in the film.
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#42 Dubbed

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

The opening scene of The Birds is centric to the encounter of Melanie and Mitch. The scene was undoubtedly designed specifically for their accidental meeting. Upon first glance, Melanie takes an interest to Mitch, and pretends to be knowledgeable about all sorts of species of birds, of which she clearly is not. This type of encounter is a classic romantic comedy element, as we witness a fumbling character attempting to impress their romantic interest.

Melanie is an interesting character in The Birds, as she seems to be in the typical male role of pursuing a romantic interest. It's as though the “boy meets girl” concept has been reversed. Melanie sees Mitch, finds him appealing, and is proactive about what she wants. She's a take charge kind of woman, and I love this trait about her character. Mitch appears to be a professional of some sort and is an evident family man. His interest in buying lovebirds for his younger sister signifies a close relationship with his family. As for his interaction with Melanie, I believe he was playing along, knowing she had zero knowledge of birds. This could even indicate an interest he might have in her as well.

The sounds of the birds nearly render the dialogue as insignificant, as their vocals​ have a towering presence in this sequence creating an ominous mood. Hitchcock's​ utilization of the birds’ calls is a foretelling of the horrific events to come. Every individual call vocalized builds the film’s intensification, setting the atmosphere, mood, and tone, all signifying the narrative’s outcome.

Hitchcock's cameo consists of he and his two small dogs exiting the pet shop Melanie enters. Hitchcock appears to have somewhat of a hurried pace, which could possibly indicate his desire to leave the seaside town. This intricate, seemingly minute detail likely crafts a foreshadowing effect of looming danger and it's evident everyone needs to take notice following his lead.
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#43 Marianne

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 09:54 AM

Thanks for the heads-up.

I will keep an eye out for Mr. McGraw when I watch The Birds this weekend. You know, he died as a result of an accident involving a glass shower door. How eerie to learn that he played a role in a film best known for its shower death scene.

 

I think you mean Psycho. I still haven't watched it, although I plan to, because I'm a little nervous about the shower scene! :( I might have to wait a little longer now that I have seen Frenzy, which was more gruesome than I thought it would be. It was a relief to The Lady Vanishes last night. So much more calming for the nerves, in a manner of speaking relatively!



#44 HEYMOE

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 06:02 AM

If you are planning to watch The Birds tonight, and if you are an alum from Dr. Edwards's film noir class (or even if you are a film noir fan in general and don't plan to watch The Birds until later!), be sure to watch for Charles McGraw, film noir tough guy and detective, as a fisherman in the diner scene.

Thanks for the heads-up.

I will keep an eye out for Mr. McGraw when I watch The Birds this weekend. You know, he died as a result of an accident involving a glass shower door. How eerie to learn that he played a role in a film best known for its shower death scene.


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#45 johnseury

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:35 PM

1. This scene, especially with the romantic banter, is the calm before the storm. Literally, since the birds are hovering overhead lining up in formation before they attack. Rod and Tippi are flirting and getting to know each other and their relationship will certainly get put out the test.
2. Even thought I've seen bits and pieces of this movie over the years, I've never paid attention to the bird music until after I read the lecture notes & watched the videos. The birds are the real stars and their omnipresent sounds show that they are the main protagonists.
3. I don't know if Hitch's cameo with his dogs has any meaning except as another indication of the calm before the storm and that if you get any pet, get a dog because they are loyal and won't turn on you.
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#46 shamus46

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:23 PM

1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?  The flirting conversation between two young attractive characters. Melanie pretends she works at the pet shop since Mitch assumes she does. Mitch quickly finds out that she really doesn't know anything about the birds. They're both well dressed and look like they are well paid in their profession.

2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?  The sounds of the seagulls that Hedren looks at while on the sidewalk gives an uncomfortable feeling due to the large number circling and the increase in volume as the birds are the focus of the shot. The bird noises in the shop make us feel more relaxed because these are caged and under control, so non-threatening.

 

3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.  Hitchcock comes out of the pet shop with two dogs on leashes.  I don't really know if this cameo has any particular meaning to the scene...thinking about other cameos...do many have any particular meaning?

 



#47 hussardo

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 05:31 PM

1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? By the choice of location and easygoing atmosphere one can easily identify this movie as a romantic comedy.

The playful tone of the characters, the dialogue gives in into what Melanie and Mitch are like. It also gives in the background of a possible family man and an class glam woman engaged in what can be described as flirtatious activity.

2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

The sound of birds are used probably and specific to give the audience this chilling mood. Sound and image basically working in distinctive actions.

3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

Hitchcock waking the dogs probably gives in the information about animal versus human. It's flirts with the audience without telling them anything else apart from what they are watching.

#48 RepublicPics

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 03:02 PM

The opening scene to the birds introduces Melanie to Mitch to one another through a chance encounter, a momentary misunderstanding, a game of pretend and a flirtatious go-along, all ingredients of romantic comedy.  We learn that Melanie can be patient (with the ditzy sales clerk) and can take the initiative (with Mitch), suggesting that she is probably not attached.  Mitch, who makes a breezy entrance, probably quickly realizes that Melanie doesn't know what she is talking about as far as birds are concerned, but enjoys the encounter, suggesting he might be interested.

 

The sound design, with only the sounds of birds with no music whatsoever, is almost disorienting -- the sounds of birds overwhelming all other sounds almost suggests that birds are everywhere as voyeurs to what is unfolding on screen.

 

The Hitchcock cameo makes me smile --- he emerges with two dogs (reliably man's best friend) from a pet store touting 'birds and tropical fish' in the window, in a movie titled The Birds.  


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#49 mariaki

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 12:40 PM

Prior to The Birds, there were other films about nature gone wrong, often connected to radiation. In many that I can recall, humans unambiguously win in the end and show the ultimate superiority of human intelligence.  However, The Birds is not just apocalyptic but almost anti-Enlightenment in its refusal to spell out cause and effect and its nightmarish unresolved ending. We humans think we are in control of nature and that our God-given superiority gives us the right to express mastery over  other lower order species. We have great logical capabilities, like Mitch's law degree, and we are confident of our success, like Melanie's undaunted determination to pursue Mitch. But in the end, neither looks nor money, not logic nor expertise will suffice to save us from what we don't know that we don't know or from what is simply random absurdity.  And Hitch is reminding us that any at moment, in places where we least expect it, illogical absurdity can complete crush rationalism and collapse our sense of civilized superiority.

 

Does anyone else think of 1968 Night of the Living Dead with the refugees boarded up in a house?   


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#50 CaseInPoint

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 11:40 AM

  1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene? In looking the glib dialogue and the verbal sparring between Melanie and Mitch, one could almost substitute Doris Day and Rock Hudson from one of their three romantic comedies (almost 'screwball' comedies) contemporary to the time.  The two spar back and forth (like a couple of birds about to mate?) and Mitch is obviously pleased that he has tricked Melanie into playing along. Mitch's constant questioning of Melanie hints at his occupation as a lawyer.  Later, when Melanie calls the newspaper office, we hear that she is able to coerce the city editor into looking up Mitch's license plate and that "daddy is in a meeting" -- enough information to tell the audience that she is a spoiled rich girl.  Also, we first see Tippi in that severely-tailored black suit, forcing her to walk, almost hop, like a bird.  The scene opens on Union Square, a popular open space in San Francisco surrounded by upscale hotels and shopping, a setting much more associated with a light-hearted, sophisticated comedy than the end of the world.
  2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?  I love how the bird sounds crescendo and fade away, starting with the gulls over Union Square and especially the captive birds in the shop as Melanie comes into view at the top of the stairs.  As in most of Hitchcock's previous work, deliberate care is given to the sounds of the city (traffic, streetcar bells, etc) giving the realistic aural accompaniment to the visual. One other note -- per the lecture notes, we have learned that Hedren was discovered by Hitchcock via her appearance in a 1960s television commercial for a diet drink called "Sego".  As I remember from the day, one of those commercials featured an off-screen cat-call whistle to which the model turns and smiles -- exactly as Hedren does in the first few frames of the film, a nod to the source of his new star's discovery.
  3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. One of our classmates here made a great observation about the dogs representing 'double' or 'pair'.  I have also heard that those were indeed Hitchcock's personal dogs (might have been in the lecture notes) and have read that they were even associated visually with Hitchcock's Shamley Productions, perhaps in a logo (?).  A big stretch here, but could it be somewhat of a 'thumbed nose' at the studio system that Hitch is now his own 'system' and at a point where he can do whatever he wants?

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#51 ChrisSturhann

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 10:56 AM

1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?
 
First, it sets up Tippi Hedren as a sex object from the very beginning. The boy whistles at her and she stops and smiles at him. I understand this was a tribute to a popular TV commercial at the time. As for the romantic comedy, it has the edge of a screwball comedy with misdirection and a verbal sparring between the man and woman. Tippi Hedren poses as a sales woman to meet Rod Taylor. Rod Taylor knows something is wrong and immediately starts trying to catch her in lies. We later find out that he knows who she is, a famous debutante. 
 
What we learn about:
 
  • Tippi Hedren - She is very stylish, presumably rich. She is very good-looking and from her reaction when the boy whistles is used to the attention it brings her. From the way she treats the sales woman, she is demanding and used to getting her way. She goes after what she wants (Rod Taylor) and is not afraid of using deception to get it.
     
  • Rod Taylor is good looking too. I have seen The Birds a number of times, so I know he is a lawyer. From the way, he questions her, almost an interrogation, I would guess that he is either a cop or a lawyer. He doesn't have patience for games, though he seems to be able to play them quite well. He has a little sister, who he is protective of, wants love birds to be not too demonstrative nor too aloof.
 
2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?
 
Though realistic, there is the constant chatter of birds. Outside you hear the seagulls mixed in with the sounds of traffic and the cable car. We see a flock of seagulls circling above, so their sounds don't seem out of place. Inside the pet shop, again more bird sounds, again motivated by the situation, a pet shop with caged birds everywhere. I'm sure that audiences knew coming in knew that the film was going to be about bird attacks, so despite the bird noise everything is very normal/mundane. Even the large flock of seagulls is explained as normal by the shopkeeper, saying that a storm at sea would drive them inland.
 
3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.
 
The only deeper meaning I can see is that he is walking dogs and not a bird person. Also he is getting away from both the birds in the shop and from Tippi Hedren. He turns the opposite direction that Tippi Hedren had come from.

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#52 Kwittenbrink

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 10:44 AM

  1. In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

    Well, we see the two characters, presumably meeting for the first time, flirting as they discuss birds.  Mitch mistakes Melanie for a shop girl and asks her questions as she pretends to work and know (less than he does) about the birds in the shop.  The setting is in a public space (again Hitchcockian) and no frightening music.
     
  2. How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

    The gulls outside look ominous; the sound from them is screechy and could be scary.  Inside the shop it isn't frightening, but the birds do take over the entirety of the background noise.  But the noise is something that you can overlook hear as you expect to hear the animals in a pet shop; you don't worry about it and basically put it out of mind.  You cannot but help to hear them; as stated in the lecture video, the birds are the stars of the movie - and even in this scene they do make themselves known.
     
  3. The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

    Hitch is seen walking (his?) two dogs from the pet shop.  To me it may be something about leading the actors, or them leading him?  Perhaps the birds leading the movie and really how can you wrangle birds completely?  Two dogs, two main characters; a pair, a romantic pair.

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#53 lizzya

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 09:01 AM

1) This scene has several instances of a romantic comedy opening. For instance, Mitch sensing that Melanie does not really work at the pet store, and giving her a hard time and amusing requests. 
We learn that Melanie is an upper class socialite that does not have a care or worry in the world and Mitch is some kind of businessman with a sarcastic sense of humor that takes revenge on those who are not truthful.
 
2) The sound design, specifically the birds, is used as a conversation starter about its occurrence and foreshadows the birds as being a big part of the later plot. The mood and atmosphere the bird sounds create is one of dominance and overpowering because the sequence has more bird sounds than human sounds.
 
3) Hitchcock’s cameo occurs when Melanie enters the pet shop and Hitch exits with two white dogs on leashes. This cameo does nothing, for me, in meaning besides add to the fact that this scene is set in more in an upper class area of the city.
 


#54 Shannon.H

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 08:44 AM

In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

 

Its a cute flirty scene and we are in on it.  Only the very beginning when crossing the street and seeing the birds is referenced.  The rest of the opening does feel like the beginning of a romantic comedy. 

 

How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

 

I did noticed the friendly little chirps in the store scene.  Those made it feel more light and romantic.

 

The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene. 

 

Its funny seeing him with the two dogs.  It seems at only the one dog, stops for a minute and looks at the camera.  I didn't notice anything of particular meaning with this cameo.



#55 baroness23

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 12:55 AM

1.In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?
It's a romantic comedy. Melanie is very interested in Mitch who is very good looking. She portrays  as the pet shop employee just to flirt with him.
 
2.How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?
The birds sounds and visual effect in the opening scene is kinda eerie and creepy to look up and see all those birds just flying.
 
3.The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.
HIs cameo is just to funny, its a movie about birds and Hitchcock walks out of the pet store with two small dogs.
 

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#56 Jon Severino

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 12:26 AM

DAILY DOSE #18 (The Birds).

 

FINE FEATHERED FRENZY:

1. As Melanie and Mitch flirt while discussing love birds, we expect that's what they'll become.

2. The outside flock sounds ominous; the inside, cheerful. Also a boy wolf whistles his own bird call.

3. Hitchcock's cameo of being walked by his dogs suggests the tether between pet and owner.



#57 LThorwald

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 11:07 PM

1.  The opening is a "meet cute", which is pretty standard form in a romantic comedy. There is maybe just a slight hint of foreboding in the circling birds outside, but otherwise the tone is very light overall.  Melanie and Mitch are clearly attracted to one another, and there is a slightly flirtatious tone to the dialogue.  We learn that Melanie is willing to play assume the role of an employee of the store, just to have a little fun.  And Mitch is charming and intelligent.

 

2.  The bird sound is used almost in the way that musical cues could be used to aid in the overall mood.  When the movie opens outside, the seagull sounds are quite audible, but not intrusive;  we are focused on Melanie crossing the street.  Then, when she looks at the circling birds in the sky, the noise becomes more raucous, and louder too.  Then, when she enters the shop, the sound quiets a bit, and is just a charming melange of mellifluous bird noise, which fits the "romantic comedy" tone established by the two characters.

 

3.  Hitchcock exits the pet store just before Tippi Hedren enters, turning to the right and walking down the sidewalk, with his own two dogs in tow.  Hitchcock could have been filmed exiting the store with a bird cage, since birds are the title animal, but Hitchcock was a dog lover his whole life, and I'm sure he enjoyed allowing his own dogs to "guest star" in the film.  I don't think any deeper thought went into this or any of his cameos.  



#58 Miss Wallace

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:12 PM

I love The Birds. There's so much going on in this movie, each episode with Mitch and Melanie, or the unrequited love story of Annie Hayworth, or the tragic fears of Mitch's mother....could be a story in itself. And then we're suddenly brought back to the idea of...oh yes, the world is going crazy and life as we know it is ending. (Actually a little too close to the atmosphere today.)

And I love Tippi Hedren - she is so incredibly self-possessed in this movie. Who else could calmly travel up the coast, rent and drive a motor boat to a remote location, all while wearing a pencil skirt, an upswept hairdo and carrying a bird cage?

 

And by the way, I really do think someone should mention the serious claims Tippi Hendren has made about the sexual harassment she received from Hitchcock during the making of The Birds. She says Hitch put her in harms way and she was injured during the making of this film because she wouldn't submit to him. It is a sad part of the Hitchcock character, but it seems to be true.


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#59 ElaineK

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 09:20 PM

Birds are the central topic of this scene, their sounds are heard outside and inside the store. The birds make so much noise that Tippy Hedron notices that a lot of them are flying over downtown. There are a lot of birds inside the store, their noises are bright and cheerful. Tippi Hedron is buying a myna bird, why she wants one is unknown.  From her inane conversation with Rod Taylor we learn that she does not know much about the birds in the store.  He may know more about the birds than she does but, seemingly, not much.  For romantic comedy, this is a very dull beginning.  We do not even see a pair of love birds.  

 

 

 

 


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#60 AaronF

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 08:58 PM

In what ways does this opening scene seem more appropriate to a romantic comedy than a “horror of the apocalypse” film? What do we learn about Melanie (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch (Rod Taylor) in this scene?

Melanie, seems like an intelligent, wealthy woman and is interested in Mitch. She decides to have a little fun with him by pretending she works in the pet store. She doesn't know a lot about birds and is making up information about them as he catches her in this act.

 

How does Hitchcock use sound design in this opening sequence? For example, how are the sounds of birds used to create a particular mood and atmosphere?

The bird sounds are very over powering in the opening scene. The birds are loud outside and inside, annoyingly loud in listening to the dialogue.

 

The opening scene contains a famous Hitchcock cameo. Describe the cameo and if you think it has any particular meaning in relation to this scene.

He is walking two dogs out of the bird store which is very ironic. I do not think it has any meaning other than being a funny cameo.


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