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The Birds (1963)

Don’t they ever stop migrating?

— Annie Hayworth

You know how much I love Alfred Hitchcock movies. He is the only director that I have reviewed at least five on his movie at the time of the LAMBs in the Director’s Chair series. The Birds is another movie that I crossed off that list. It was nominated for a single Oscar for Best Visual Effects. This movie that did not make me feel the same way about birds as Jaws did with sharks.

Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) goes into a pet shop in downtown San Francisco to pick up a bird that she had ordered. Her bird had not come in the time it was supposed. She had to wait until a dashing young man comes into the store, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) mistaking her for the a worker there. Mitch asks Melanie about what type of bird is best for his sister, Cathy (Veronica Cartwright). He wanted lovebirds. They begin to chat each other up until he leaves.

Melanie decides to surprise Mitch by buying the lovebirds and leave them out on his apartment. She learns that he is out-of-town for the weekend. He is visiting his family in Bodega Bay. She drives to Bodega Bay to find out where the Brenner house is located. She visits the local schoolteacher, Annie Hayworth (Suzanne Pleshette) to ask her about the family home which across the bay. She charters a small boat to sneak birds into the house.

When she crosses back across the bay, she is attacked by seagull. She and Mitch thinks that it is a fluke until the birds of the town start going crazy and start attacking all the residents of the town. The town becomes under siege with seagulls, crows and blackbirds for neighboring towns.

The movie for the most part is unsettling to watch, but I didn’t completely buy into it. I have to say who the hell get killed by a bunch of birds. What, do they peck you to death? It sounds ludicrous to me.

Did anybody get the feels that there is something more about Melanie and Lydia Brenner (Jessica Tandy)? Did you get the sense of a man being a attracted to a version of his mother? I got that feeling big time.

Judgment: The movie is unsettling to with, but it won’t make you afraid of birds.

Rating: 7.5/10

1001 Movie Club: Marnie (1964)

Stephen Jay Schneider chose this movie as one of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” He compiled a massive list from the classic to the obscure for his anthology. The most worthy movies are chosen to be on this list. Every year, there is a revision to include the most essential movies to be on the minds of film buffs everywhere.

Marnie is a Hitchcock film that I never heard of before the 1001 Movie Club chose it as one of the films to watch. I didn’t know what the movie was about going into it. I went in completely blind. The result is that there is some intrigue in this mess of a movie.

Based on the novel by Winston Graham, the movie tells the story of a seasoned con artist by the name of Marnie (Tippi Hedren) who pilfered over nine thousand dollars from her former boss, Mr. Strutt (Martin Gabel) and is on the lam. When Strutt has the police over at his office, a client Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) overhears about the theft.

After the robbery, Marnie changes her identity like a chameleon with fake Social Security cards or changing her hair color from black to blond. She visits her emotionally distant mother, Bernice (Louise Latham) and showers her with extravagant gifts. She is jealous of a neighborhood girl, Jessie Cotton (Kimberly Beck) taking all of her mother’s attention. The mother is mindful that they shouldn’t have men in their lives, be free. Marnie has frequent nightmares about her childhood with her mother whenever red is shown or a thunderstorm. This happens frequently throughout the movie.

Marnie goes back out for her next con becoming another character looking for payroll clerk jobs to get close to the money to steal it. She is called in for an interview with the company that Mark owns. The trouble is that the two already met at Mr. Strutt’s company, but that was when she was raven-haired. Mark thinks that Marnie is familiar somehow, but he is not sure. He wants Mr. Warden to hire her instead of a more qualified person for the job

As Marnie starts her job, she learns more about the idiosyncrasies of the company like Mr. Ward (S. John Launer) never remembering the combination to the safe in his office and he has to rely on Mark and Ward’s secretary, Ms. Clabon (Mariette Hartley) to help him.

When Mr. Rutland wants her to work overtime, he discovers when a thunderstorm is happening. She is vulnerable. He kisses her and a relationship is blossoming, but remnants of her past of slowly eroding their relationship.

The Hitchcockian staples are present with the quick pan in and out, the weird close-ups on the characters faces, the obviously fake backdrops. There were some interesting moments in this film about the origins of Marnie’s panic attacks, her descent into madness towards the end of the movie. The plot itself was uneven. When a great moment was taking place, it is ruined by red on the screen or Tippi Hedren shrilling all over the screen.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movie Club Approved

Judgment: The movie is pure melodrama disguised as a Hitchcock movie.

Rating: ***

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