Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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Further Reflections:  After watching the clip, please go to Twitter (#Hitchcock50) or the TCM Message Board (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.to continue your reflections on this clip. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

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 dialog between Melanie and Mitch is indeed the type of dialog one would expect in a romantic comedy. It is fueled by puns about love birds. Melanie seems to be some kind of collector of rare birds. Mitch seems to be shopping for a bird and it seems unclear if the “shopping” for love birds or saw an opportunity to meet Melanie.

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 the cluster of birds downtown and they seemed to be gathering themselves, like airplanes or tanks or battle ships getting into formation. The sound of the birds in the pet store seems to be at a very high volume.

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. I think it was a tongue in cheek statement that Hitch prefers dogs to birds and Hitch seems to be in a hurry to get away. 

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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?

Mitch sees her standing there, in a very nice suit and very high heels.  He knows who she is but gets her to pretend that she works there.  Asking her about lovebirds.  A bird escapes and she tries to get it back into it's cage.  Screwball comedy.

 

(Side note, the shopkeeper tells Melanie that the delivery truck hadn't arrived yet.  Why?  Did the birds revolt on the truck ride over and kill the driver?  Something to think about.)

 

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 gulls are louder than the city noises, traffic, & people.  Sounds of the gulls flocking as Melanie goes into the bird store.  The boy "cat call" whistle to Melanie.  The sounds of the birds in the shop is soothing, just little calls and tweets.

 

 

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 walking out of the bird store with 2 Scottish terriers leading him out.  The dogs are leading the master on his leash. 

 

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1) The beginning of the film is very light-hearted and almost whimsical from Hitchcock's cameo with the two dogs on the leashes to Mitch's request for love birds and the assumption that Melanie works for the pet store, etc. The film's beginning is very romantic comedy(esque) except for the clouds of birds flying about out in the open sky and their cawing and noise flooding in and out of the scene. Something menacing is coming this way in the only way Hitchcock can foreshadow.

 

2) The birds outside are quite loud and on the verge of disruptive. Like I mentioned above their are a vast number of them outside and they seem to predominantly gulls. The sheer number of them provides some sort of ambient noise for the outside of the pet shop while inside it is more of a muffled sound--they're not heard as clearly. The birds inside along with the other pets are a bit quieter and Mitch makes an interesting point about the birds in cages not enjoying being in cages...however once they're out of the cages like the gulls outside skies the limit for their brutality and the force in numbers they have when they set their minds to the attack.

 

3) The cameo with Hitchcock is clever with the dogs exiting the pet shop, and there are two dogs much like the two love birds that Mitch is seeking (and the love bird qualities that will become clearer with Mitch and Melanie) and the dogs see the birds in the skies and become a little more rambunctious as the second one tries to pull away and Hitchcock struggles reeling him in as he walks off frame.

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The opening scene of The Birds reminds me of some of the opening scenes of Hitch's movies from the 1930's where everything is quiet and serene but you know that soon the world we are experiencing in the movie is going to soon erupt into chaos.

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1. The opening of the film looks like a typical boy meets girl scene. Mistaken identity, flirting,(he is looking for love birds) Both actors are obviously attractive and attracted to each other. 

 

2. Hitchcock emphasizes the bird sounds outside and inside the shop. This is meant to be the focus of the film. Birds making ominous noises are something we rarely pay attention to. We take them for granted. Melanie looking up at the noise and noticing the large amount of birds in the sky are as result of the din. 

 

3. The cameo of Hitchcock scurrying out the store with 2 dogs (another double) could hint that he has to move along. Something may be happening that we are unaware of by he is.  

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1.   The opening scene of "The Birds" introduces us to Mitch and Melanie two of the main characters of the story.  Melanie is attractive, elegant, and a confident individual who also appears of the upper class based on her wardrobe, style and the fact she is entering an obviously high end pet store.  She meets Mitch an attractive well-dressed man.  He mistakes her for a sales clerk (or pretends to)  and she takes the bait and they have their bit of fun.  The dialogue is light and clever,he is looking to buy a pair of love birds (the MacGuffin perhaps?) for his younger sister.  The name of the movie is The Birds so this could be a romantic comedy based on a relationship that begins in a Pet Shop that specializes in birds, but we are into a Hitchcock film and this is a very unikely.  We are in a place where under normal circumstances  we would have no need to worry.  This is a common theme in Hitchcock films - theatres, churches, ski hills, dance halls and small towns.... Two ordinary people, ordinary circumstance who will face terror in short order from the least likely of  sources.

 

2. The sound design is used very effectively to introduce signs of impending trouble.  A very attractive well dressed woman walking the city street towards a shop.  In the background we here cars, whistles, sirens so subtle that if you aren't listening for it you might not notice. Oridnary city sounds.   We also hear gulls cackling in the distance again not very loud but as the woman approaches the door to the pet shop the gulls sound much louder so much so that it catches her attention, she looks up the see a large flock of them.  So initially the mood is light, with that small foreshadowing created by the circling gulls.  When we enter the store all of the birds are in cages in contrast to those flying freely outside hmmm..

 

3.  Hitchcock's cameo occurs just as Melanie is entering the store he is exiting with two dogs on a leash.  The theme of doubles comes to mind, two dogs, two people who meet cute and two love birds to introduce the story.  Things happen in pairs signifying relationships.  Melanie and Mitches relationship will become a focal point of the story and Hitchcock the auteur.

 

 

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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?

 

When the scene opens we hear the seagulls right away. Of course, there is also the sound of traffic and other city noise, but the sound of the seagulls is more prominent. Then a kid whistles at Melanie, almost a bird sound. When she looks up at the birds, there is an extremely large number of gulls in the air. Inside the pet shop it's a different sound of birds, more friendly, and soothing with the cooing. After watching the clip again, I notice a kind of panting noise when Mitch enters the shop. I couldn't place just what that noise was. It doesn't sound like a bird.

 

When Mitch and Melanie meet, it's obvious they like each other right away. It's a nice "meet cute", him mistaking her for a shop employee. When she sees him, you can tell she likes him and she plays along. I think he realizes fairly quickly, by her inaccurate information about the birds, that she's NOT an employee, but it appears that he wants to see how far they can take this silly role playing. Their dialogue is full of double entrendres (spelling). The first one is when he asks for "love birds". Then he tells her that since his sister is only going to be eleven, he doesn't want the birds to be too demonstrative, but also not too aloof. In fact, Mitch may already know who Melanie is, since she's a socialite and probably in the papers quite often. 

 

When Mitch says, "Doesn't this make you feel just awful?" And Melanie eventually responds with, "Well we can't just let them fly around the shop you know." That line is a foreshadowing of all the birds flying around where they are not supposed to be. Another double entendre interchange happens when he asks if there is a reason for keeping them in separate cages. Almost from the moment Mitch and Melanie meet, the atmosphere and their dialogue is light. They are flirting with each other.

 

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 think, in general, bird song and chirping is soothing. We have a young couple meeting and flirting. The sound of the birds in the shop is not in any way threatening. But the sound of the gulls at the beginning is rather overpowering. We have a contrast of sound in the opening sequence.

 

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.

 

Alfred Hitchcock is leading two dogs from the shop as Melanie walks in. Yet when she enters we don't get to see the pets on the lower floor. There are kittens in the front window of the shop, but the focus is on the birds on the second floor. Dogs are loyal to their humans, birds are more unpredictable, and perhaps not as affectionate as dogs, another interesting contrast.

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1) This opening scene seems more like a romantic comedy of the sixties (Natalie Wood, Doris Day, Jane Fonda with handsome male actors). The scene starts with her appreciating a wolf whistle as she enters the pet shop. We can see that Melanie is elegantly dressed and used to getting her way. She expected her mynah bird to be ready for pick up. She handles the disappointment with ease and class. Mitch is stylish but casual. There is a suave, debonair Cary Grant demeanor about him.Their brief interaction is heightened with a possible mistaken identity (she is under the impression that he thinks she's the saleslady.In fact, he recognizes her as a socialite in the news) This double entendre in identity, talk about bird mating rituals ("birds not too demonstrative") and flirting is a great undercurrent for the confusion and disaster about to take place.

 

2) Hitchcock immediately introduces the sound and appearance of sea gulls in the opening credits and first scene.He uses Melanie's POV as she looks up in the dark menacing sky to notice a large number of gulls circling near her. They seem to be restless and loud, a surprise because Melanie does not seem to be near water. The sound effects are minimized as she enters the pet shop.The birds in the shop are noisy but Hitch cleverly confuses us. Is it the every day kind of bird noise or are they upset when she enters the shop?The noise fluctuates as the couple talks and moves around them.So clever.I found my classmates comments on man's dominance over animals to be enlightening.The bird sounds are scary, bottom line. I also noticed an aerial theme on the billboards outside, airlines, flying etc.

 

3)Like others I am not sure of the significance of Hitchcock's cameo here. I  agree that he is trying to show that he prefers dogs over birds and that he seems to be in a hurry to get away from Melanie and Mitch. He does seem to be losing dominance over his dogs though. Perhaps the pair reflect the romantic pairing inside?

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Indeed it is more of a romantic comedy at first when Melanie goes into the pet shop to get her mynah bird. She is put off at first when Mitch thinks she is the salesgirl but decides to play along with him. When he learns she knows little about birds, we start to see she is a playful challenge for him and that she likes to get what she wants. (Mitch does have a Cary Grant personality, wanting to be the dominant one but sees he is meeting his match in Melanie)

 

The sea gulls do dominate the first part of the scene and sound small at first until Melanie looks up at the sky and sees how many there are and then their cries seem to increase in volume. Foreshadowing, for sure!

 

And is it just me, or do the sounds of the birds increase in volume when Melanie heads to the bird department of the pet shop, like they are reacting to her arrival?

 

Hitchcock's cameo seems to sense he knows trouble is afoot and he and his dogs are leaving quickly. (one of them even looks up at the sky and seems to want to run instead of walk)

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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?

 

This truly is more like a romantic comedy, Melanie's ignorance of birds becomes comical as she tries to show Mitch around the shop. We also learn that Melanie is impatient but Mitch's patience with her is striking. That's when we learn he's enjoying the banter.

 

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?

 

Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I too would be worried at seeing that many seagulls in one location. The louder the birds got the more tense the scene became.

 

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 exiting the store with his two dogs is memorable, it seems as if he's in a hurry to get out of the noisy store.

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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?

a.     The movie begins with a light, comedic mood set by the humorous gesticulations of the shopkeeper, and the flirty banter of Melanie and Mitch, who show themselves to be urbane, fun-loving  players in a romantic sketch.

 

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?

a.     The squeaky, scratchy, squawking of the birds is an unsettling counterpoint to the casual, lackadaisical actions of the humans, who show little attention to contradictory moods. (*See below.)

 

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.

a.     Hitch is a canine-lover, who is handling TWO dogs, which represent…
NO, JUST KIDDING – I don’t see any particular meaning, other than it is a cool cameo.

 

**Here is a modern version of the ElectroAcoustic Trautonium - Something Hitchcock would have surely loved! 

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From memory, I was going to say this opening was different from the regular "unsettling" one that we've become used to in Hitchcock's movies, but then I watched it. No, no, no - plenty o' foreshadowing here; Melanie sees the huge flock of seagulls, which are the dominant sound on the soundtrack as she walks along the street; the opening shot of both her and Mitch in the pet store is "bird's-eye"; he also glances at a caged bird as he summits the stairs; and the sounds of birds almost drown out the human dialogue that follows.

 

The Birds has always been my favourite Hitchcock film; I first watched it at about age 13, late one Friday night, alone in our living room, on a black-and-white TV set. I didn't quite know what to make of it, particularly as there was no music, but it certainly stayed with me. The jump-cut sequence into the farmer's mangled face particularly gave me the willies - for days afterward.

 

Having watched it many times since, I've come to appreciate just how effective it is, on so many levels.

First of all, I've recently realized that it's effectively a silent movie. Take any of the dialogue away (or put it on title cards!), and the power of the film is undiminished.

As a "horror" movie, it is on a level with The Haunting as my favourite of the genre. Slashers, zombies, mummies - nah. You can see them, so how is that scary? When you can't see the malevolent force, as in The Haunting, or there is no explanation given for an overwhelming natural force turning on humans, as in The Birds, that's what rattles me.

I also love the "unresolved" ending. It's always felt right. I actually read the short story by Daphne Du Maurier some years ago, and was surprised to find that that's how it ends, too; not with the family driving off in a car, of course, but rather, simply sitting in their Cornish cottage, awaiting the next attack.

 

This is truly Hitchcock at the top of his game, in control of everything, from sound, direction, editing, visual effects, to terrific performances from all the actors, especially newbie Tippi Hedren, who certainly earned the traumatized look she has at the end!

 

My "signature moment"? The scene where they're in the living room of Mitch's house, and have boarded all the doors and windows on both floors. Whew - they're safe!

Then, Melanie glances at the fireplace hearth, where a sparrow appears:

"Peep-peep"

"Mitch?"

WHHOOOOSSSHHH!

All in the time it takes to read those words! Cinema just doesn't get any purer than this.

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The male/female banter back and forth is a dead giveaway for a romantic comedy of this era.  Who would suspect a horrible bird attack here?    Melanie is on a mission to purchase birds (for herself? a gift for someone?), has placed an order for them previously, it seems. She is someone who gets what she wants, from the looks of it. Sophisticated, wealthy, dressed beautifully.  She also seems kind and good.  Mitch is there to buy a gift for his much younger sister. Likes Melanie's appearance and warmth.  The flirting goes on for awhile. They might both be putting up a front, making it up as they go along.

 

The cacaphony of the birds in this shop seems cheerful to me, not scary or foreboding. If you do not know what's coming, however, you might not know why the birds' chattering to each other is so loud, and why Hitchcock hasn't lowered the volume, so to speak.

 

Mr. Hitchcock is seen walking out of the pet store with his two leashed dogs as Melanie is walking in.  I guess I don't read too much into it. Just some fun because he can!  The whistling at Melanie from some guy is a nice touch, however. A birdcall, no less.

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1.Thos opening scene feels just like " Please don't eat the Daisies ". With Doris Day and others of that day. Lovely young attractive woman (Tippi Hedren) light heartedly bouncing down the street into the pet shop. Prior to entering she reacts briefly to a wolf whistle. Then quickly turns her attention on the gathering of the birds in the sky. They are flirting and interacting, smiling and teasing each other just like a comedy. Rod Taylor initially appears to have no clue that Tippi is not a salesperson. She trucks him and carries it further by selling him on a different bird . He was looking for love birds then she encourages him to go for the canary. It's light hearted banter with the true flavor of a comedy. The real sales lady also appears as a secondary actress in a comedy.

2. The entire segment has the implementation of birds chirping, chiding and scolding. The sound grows in intensity with harsh sounds ominously reverberating in my ears. I'm creeped out but I don't really know why. There are several facts revealed about the characters. They appear wealthy and confident. Rods character has a sister (so he reveals). He wants to give her love birds as a gift. Tippis character appears to truly enjoy putting him on. Also showing her ignorance (and she doesn't appear to care ).

3. Mr Hitchcock himself comes out of the pet shop with his darling dogs. He is literally exiting the shop with all those disconcerted birds ( could that represent the virtual release of the forces ). Also the outdoors contains the others

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1.Thos opening scene feels just like " Please don't eat the Daisies ". With Doris Day and others of that day. Lovely young attractive woman (Tippi Hedren) light heartedly bouncing down the street into the pet shop. Prior to entering she reacts briefly to a wolf whistle. Then quickly turns her attention on the gathering of the birds in the sky. They are flirting and interacting, smiling and teasing each other just like a comedy. Rod Taylor initially appears to have no clue that Tippi is not a salesperson. She tricks him and carries it further by selling him on a different bird . He was looking for love birds then she encourages him to go for the canary. It's light hearted banter with the true flavor of a comedy. The real sales lady also appears as a secondary actress in a comedy.

2. The entire segment has the implementation of birds chirping, chiding and scolding. The sound grows in intensity with harsh sounds ominously reverberating in my ears. I'm creeped out but I don't really know why. There are several facts revealed about the characters. They appear wealthy and confident. Rods character has a sister (so he reveals). He wants to give her love birds as a gift. Tippis character appears to truly enjoy putting him on. Also showing her ignorance (and she doesn't appear to care ).

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There is a more light, playful and flirty vibe in the opening scenes which gears towards romance rather than horror. However, there appears to be an undertone of what's to come by the birds appearance as Melanie enters the store and the raucous noises of the ones inside as she talks to the shopkeeper and Mitch.

 

The sounds of the birds give the mood a very noisy, chaotic feeling with a lot of unpredictability. Nobody knows what could happen next. Which seems to be reflected in the banter between Mitch and Melanie as they talk birds. 

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  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?

     

    Other than the birds circling over the square, this is a rather light scene. Mitch mistakes Melanie for a sales clerk and she decides to toy with him. His request for love birds is filled with innuendo. She tries to snow him, which Mitch and the audience see through quickly. Melanie knows very little about birds.

     

  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 are in a mood. Their sound covers the city sound. In the pet store, the birds are just below the conversations, but it is loud. It creates a physical presence.

     

  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.

     

    We see Hitchcock leaving the store with two well groomed Scott Terriers. With his appearance, and Melanie's, we can assume that the store is popular with the upper classes. This allows us to make assumptions about Mitch as well, Beyond that, the cameo does not say anything else to me.

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  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 mood seems light and it seems to be a nice day in  San Francisco.  A very lovely lady is walking down the street and even a boy whistles at her.  I think if a man had whistled it would have taken us out of the lightness of the beginning.  There is the one scene with the birds in the air - foreboding- but we are quickly brought back to the pleasant scene.  However, I find the sound of the birds jarring especially inside the pet shop.  The interactions seem humorous - but there is an edge.  It seems light a light hearted romantic comedy - but, there is an edge.  The interactions with Melanie and the pet shop owner has an edge too.  The pet shop is sad - birds in prisons - the reference to Melanie being in a gilded cage.  

 

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 are pleasant at first but then they are annoying to me in the pet shop.  They make me nervous and uncomfortable.  Initially the city sounds are pleasant until we get into the pet shop.  

 

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.  Alfred Hitchcock is leaving the pet shop with two dogs while Melanie enters.  Two dogs on a leash.  Two actors.  Duality.  A man and a woman.  I'll have to go back and watch the clip again, but I think they almost bump into each other.  Dogs on leashes as opposed to birds in cages.  Not sure what this makes me think of.                       I was lucky enough to have visited Bodega Bay California.  Some of the stores had movie memorabilia.  I don't remember but I know Tippi Hendren has visited on at least one occasion.  It was so interesting to see the town after having watched The Birds so many times.  Visiting Los Angeles and San Francisco was cool too!  All that noir. I could just imagine danger everywhere!  I can tell you I was driving and we didn't know when we came over the Golden Gate Bridge that we were going to be on those crazy hills like in the movie Bullitt.  There was a parade with people dressed in costumes and many people were drunk.  I couldn't pull over and I was screaming!  I had to stop at the top of each intersection and the hills are so steep.  Fun but crazy!

 

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I especially like the use of the Trautonium for the bird sounds, and Herrmann's composition for that.  Miklos Rozsa had already done something similar with the Theremin, an earlier electronic sound device, for Hitchcock in Spellbound.  It was also used a lot at Universal which was known as the "horror" and science fiction company.  Frankenstein and all the sounds of the equipment when the monster was created.  Definitely taken to a new level by Herrmann.

 

Theremin:

  Herrmann The Day the Earth Stood Still soundtrack:  https://itunes.apple.com/ie/album/day-earth-stood-still-1951/id645119942

 

Trautonium:

   Here it is with Sala, in German but with directions to translate or just enjoy the sounds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hh8-qTjPV9g

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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 most obvious answer is the flirtation between Melanie and Mitch in the pet store, as Melanie pretends to work there.  It is very suggestive and flirtatious, far from scary.

We learn that Melanie is highbrow and upper crust.  Who can walk so elegantly in stilettos and a superbly tailored suit across a busy street in a major city? And what about that fabulous handbag?  I can never stop myself from noticing it J

We learn that Mitch has an 11-year old sister (really?) and he wants to give her lovebirds as a gift.  Lovebirds? How convenient that he wants to give lovebirds and happens to find a lovely woman, the alleged shopkeeper, to sell them to him.  This is comical in its absurdity, but it works as a perfect opening b/c we’re completely off guard about what’s to come……

 

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 effects in the pet shop are in direct contrast to the sound effects from the gulls before Melanie goes in the shop; the former are more lighthearted whereas the latter are more ominous. I had to close my eyes and just listen to the sound to really understand how much contrast there is between the two.

 

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.

I’ve watched it 3 times and I can’t think of anything intelligent to say about this cameo! Are the two dogs “love dogs”?  Is there a suggestion about certain things being better in pairs??  

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​I never thought of this opening scene as a romantic comedy before. Now this makes me wonder what turn this story would take if the birds didn't start attacking. But then again, many horror movies, especially apocalyptic ones, start with a happy scene. I think this is important for movies in this genre. We are supposed to see the happy and normal lives of the characters before the terror and doom begins. If we were thrown into the story with the start of the apocalypse (in this case, the birds), we wouldn't know any different, aside from what we know to be normal in real life. But starting the movie in a happy way introduces to us what these characters' lives should be like. So when everything starts going haywire, we sympathize with them. As for this scene, this is done by the happy demeanor of Melanie, as she walks into the store and talks with the lady, then by her reaction to Mitch entering the scene. He's interested in love birds, and she's interested in love. We learn about Melanie that she is quick to show interest in a man and is willing to do whatever it takes to talk to him, such as pretending she works at the store.

 

As the scene opens, the sound of birds is loud and clear, making it seem like the focal point of the introduction. Melanie briefly pays attention to them, telling the audience that it's unusual and that we should pay attention as well. Then, she asks the lady at the desk about it, which just confirms this suspicion. However, we aren't supposed to think too much about it yet--just enough to put it in our minds and set the atmosphere.

 

The Hitchcock cameo shows Hitchcock quickly exiting the store with two little dogs, and I love the fact that they were actually his. I agree with everyone's observation that he (and the dogs) seem to be in a hurry to get out of the store, suggesting a fore gleam of what people will be doing later in the movie--that is, running for their lives. I'm not sure if it has any meaning in this particular scene, but I notice as well the "doubles" he seems so fond of. There were a lot of doubles in Shadow of a Doubt​ and in this movie, where Mitch is interested in a pair of love birds. This makes me wonder if Hitchcock had some fascination with doubles of things and liked to purposely place these in his movies, just like his cameos.

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1. The opening scene of The Birds seems more like a romantic comedy because of the light flirting and banter going on between the two characters. The audience knows (and later we discover Rod Taylor knows) that Tippi Hedren is not a sales clerk in a pet store and that she knows nothing about birds. This is very similar to romantic comedies where misunderstandings happen and the romance begins. In this scene we learn that Melanie wants to buy a Myna bird and is anxious to get it. She has obviously been in pet shop before because the clerk knows her name. We also learn that she has a sense of humor, she smiles at the wolf whistler, and she tries to fake Mitch out after he mistakes her for a shop clerk. We learn that Mitch is looking for a pair of love birds for his sister for her 11th birthday. We also learn that he has a razor sense of humor as well, when it becomes apparent that Melanie knows nothing about birds he continues the ruse and asks questions that he knows she doesn't have the answers to.

2. The background sounds we hear in the opening scene of the birds are focused on bird sounds. We don't hear music. There are the sounds of the city, but even these are over-powered by the sound of the gulls in the sky. The mood is somewhat creepy, and the absence of music is somehow unsettling.

3. Hitchcock's cameo in the birds is very brief. As Melanie walks into the pet shop, he is walking out with 2 terriers on leases. He moves quickly, not even looking at Melanie or the camera. He is out of the shot in moments. It seems like Hitchcock knows what's coming and he's getting the heck out of there.

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WOOHOO, so glad to be caught up and in the moment.


 


1. ROMCOM versus horror: 


 


Two upper crust socialites happen upon each other in a pet store when Melanie is mistaken for a clerk by Mitch. The dialogue is filled with suggestive innuendo (looking for love birds, girls love attention, friendly/not too aloof). The birds are caged (wedded un-bliss) versus free (dating).


 


 


2. The sound design:


 


More than a musical score, the car noises, streetcar bells, whistle from a boy, and those darn birds create a haunting/foreboding ambiance that quickly moves to irritating.  The intensity of the bird chirps grates on the viewers nerves in anticipation.


 


 


 


3.  Hitchcock's cameo:


 


As mentioned in the lecture, the theme of TWOS is present: 2 dogs, 2 stars. A symmetry and symbolic coupling thematically present in so many touches from him. The dogs are on a leash (representing marriage) and he seems in a hurry to get away.


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1. Hitch again resorts to playful banter with love birds as the focus of the verbal exchange. Melanie is rich (clothes and appearance), not used to waiting for thins (her minor bird was supposed to be there at 3pm), doesn't really know about birds and leads Mitch around the store. He senses that she doesn't really know about birds but she is not used to being told anything. We learn that Mitch has an 11 year old sister but nothing more. He lets the verbal bantering continue which tells me he is available!

 

2. We only hear natural sounds -no music. We hear the gulls and so does she. We hear a whistle directed at her good looks. She smiles but we don't know if that was a man or bird. We can hear her heels clacking on the pavement along with some city background noise. The city seems oddly quiet. Nothing seems menacing except the shot of the birds overhead...like a dark cloud hanging over.

 

3. Hitch has 2 dogs. Mitch will end up with 2 lovebirds. Then there is the relationship pairs-Mitch and Melanie, Mitch and Annie, Mitch and his mother, etc. There are lots of doubles. Add to that the fact that the dogs are pulling him. The pairs will lead the way although we don't know which pair!

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Daily Dose #18  "The Birds" 1963

 

This movie is another of my Hitchcock favorites...I have been to Bodega Bay...we drove up from San Francisco & the only reason we were there is because of this movie..."The Birds". I would love to go  there again. I agree that there is little on the way except scenery & then the salt flats. It was three years ago we were there. That area of California has mossy trees that remind me of the Deep South.

 

:Shadow of a Doubt" was filmed in California &  also "Vertigo": in San Francisco...a city I love.

 

I do agree that Hitchcock used A list actors to elevate his so-called B movies ...with outstanding results. The Birds has been placed into film archives (Wiki). it should be there it is a great movie & like "Psycho" has so much  in it to analyze. 

 

I have pinned some photos on my Pinterest Boards featuring the machine Mixtur Trautonium (Oskar Sala) & composer Remi Gassmann & the Special Photographic Advisor (Ub Liwerks) Disney animator .They did an excellent job just like Saul Bass &  Berenard Herrmann team did with "Psycho". Hitchcock planned these things to happen...he wanted them to happen in a certain way & he hired the right people to  make  movie magic come together. He knew just where to go & just who to hire & he was not to prideful to hire the correct people to bring his vision to life on the screen so his movies became the enduring movies they are today.

 

Yes, I agree this is man vs nature & I have heard "The Birds" described as supernatural thriller because we have no reason the birds attacked the people instead of each other I guess. Even if the birds had attacked each other it would still be horror. I found  a note on (Wiki) that said the birds  may have been suffering or influenced by domic acid (amnesic shellfish poisoning) this is not mentioned in the movie so we are allowed to speculate about the reasons. Also, in the same article HItchcock is said to have wanted the undercurrent to be about punishment . People are  bad  & so they are  being punished by the attacking birds. This was also not developed in this movie.

 

I love the British Daphne de Maurier & I read she wrote "Rebecca". I have one of her books that she wrote about her father: Gerald A.   A Portrait. I like her writing style; no l love her writing style.

 

I think Tippi Hedren  (Melanie Daniels) is the correct actress for this part. I don't know how old Rod Taylor (Mitch  Brenner) is supposed to be in this movie but he looks too old to have an eleven year old sister. I'll get back to this idea later.

 

The opening is where we first meet Melanie & Mitch both in the pet shop. The interaction between them is lighthearted & flirtatious. Mitch is a lawyer & he recognizes Melanie from court. She is a socialite with less than a stellar reputation ...deserved or not she has that reputation to live down or live with. They flirt with each other & she is incensed that he knew her all along. She gets the idea to go to Bodega Bay with the Love Birds for Cathy's (Veroncia Cartwright)  birthday. Again we are back to the age difference between Mitch & Cathy. Mitch is a lawyer so her must be how old? Near thirty maybe. Cathy is just turning eleven. Melanie is probably barley twenty or she would be more mature than jumping into a fountain. I'm getting a bit ahead of the movie. Just me doing what I do. Note: Someone wolf whistles at Melanie as she goes into the door, she stops, turns & smiles. The birds are heard above her & the birds indoors are very noisy; almost deafening. Hitchcock is seen walking his own two dogs...love his cameos.   

 

There exists 'mother' issues in this movie ...like "Psycho". Melanie's mother is mentioned & Melanie does not like her mother or she craves & longs for the idea of having a 'good mother'. Mrs. Brenner is bossy & controlling &  suffering from implied hysteria over losing her husband. Do women really go crazy if their husbands leave them or die? Movies say they do. I hope not.

 

i read the article by Matthew Steigbigel & the Ray Berwick article at the (Hitchcock Zone). 

 

I do agree with the Vimeo of Dr. Edwards this movie implies that this world is an unknown place full of chaos & no logic to help explain why the birds attacked humans. The love birds are fine they are calm & represent love & they stay that way throughout the entire movie & at its grim ending. The other birds are killers peck, peck, pecking away. They do not attack each other, they attack humans, but they do fly into objects killing themselves. Some creepy scenes in this movie with dead birds. The dead birds are harmless, it's the living, attacking  birds the people  have to watch out for as the movie ends.

 

Melanie has chipped fingernails as she is escorted from the farmhouse by her latest boyfriend Mitch...Cathy with her love birds & her mother are also leaving. As a socialite Malanie would never be seen with chipped nail polish. She has had quiet a time on the farm in Bodega Bay. Her new friend Annie  Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) was killed by these very same birds, children were attacked, Melanie herself was pecked or scratched on her socialite head by a crazed bird...she was likewise yelled & blamed in the restaurant by yet another hysterical woman. She almost called Melanie a witch!

 

Yes, this movie plays with audience expectations..the opening is light & flirty ...then it turns into a shocker.

 

A reporter (vimeo video provided by Dr. Edwards) asks Hitchcock if his movies are fantasy & said they have an  'air of reality' about them.  Hitchcock's brilliant reply, 'so do nightmares'.

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