The Birds

I watched one of my fellow teachers singing a song during the noon hour and telling us about her family of teachers. I took a long time to prepare for class, and we found the door was locked. I had to call a security person to come by with the keys, and we started nearly fifteen minutes late. Fortunately, I had just a brief lecture planned. I walked home to get lunch. I looked through the record store but wasn’t motivated to buy anything. I did see that my Blu-ray of “Cries and Whispers” had arrived in the mail. I gave another short lecture to my evening class. I caught part of the Giants football game before going to the theatre for the Flashback Feature, “The Birds.” I think this was the second time I’ve seen the film since the trip I took to Bodega in June. I thought that Tippi Hedren had some weak acting moments, and she and Suzanne Pleshette smoked too much. It was rather distressing to watch this movie with such a young audience because they laughed at everything, particularly the birds attacking the children. Some of the shots showing the jealousy in the faces of Suzanne and Jessica Tandy were rather obvious. I wondered about the shot where Mitch covers the bird with a hat. Everyone seemed surprised that Mitch’s family would leave their front door unlocked, but this was Bodega Bay. What always struck me was how dumb the cop was in refusing to believe what people were telling him about the birds. It also seemed like a real mistake that Mitch was staying in the house and trying to weather the attacks. He was the one in charge, telling everyone what to do, and he ended up one of the few remaining people in the town at the end. One of the moments that made an emotional impact on this audience was seeing Annie Hayworth’s last scene. The thought of birds picking away at her was terrible. Mitch picks up a rock to throw at the birds, but that would have been a huge mistake. A lot of the suspense was in seeing if someone would let out a scream or do something that would set off the birds. The way that Cathy was crying, you would have thought everyone was doomed. Melanie at the end was in a state that she might have yelled out something. I didn’t catch the expression on the face of the ornithologist. She and the cop were the two characters that came off the worst in this picture. The men in the general store seemed dumb, not knowing what the little girl’s name was. Things like the use of the rotary phone and listening to the radio made life in this world appear to go slower than today’s world. The scene that felt like it went on forever was Melanie bringing tea to Lydia. The whole sequence of the attack on the house at the end quieted the audience. It did create a lot of tension. Mitch’s hands were bleeding all over, but he was worried about the Melanie needing medical attention. I don’t suppose he could have picked up a bird disease from the cuts. I’d say the shots of Tippi near panic were not so convincing. The sequence with the gasoline spilling onto the street made me think that the people witnessing it were too passive. The guy lighting his cigar was totally oblivious, which seemed a little hard to believe. Something else that was hard to believe was the relationship between Mitch and Melanie. In just a few days, he was calling her “darling.” Melanie was showing that she was no genius in her attempts to get away with lies, but her dumbest act was to go to that room alone and open that door. Everyone knew that she was in trouble. The two pieces of music on the soundtrack were the Debussy composition that Melanie plays on the piano and that song that the kids in school sang that drove me absolutely crazy. The ending of the movie wasn’t entirely satisfying for the audience, although I couldn’t see how Hitchcock could end this movie unless the entire Bay Area was conquered by those birds. It’s like this was a Planet of the Birds instead of a Planet of the Apes, or an Invasion of the Birds instead of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I thought about the audience, and how in their youth they were lacking in some compassion. After all, if they were the ones getting attacked by these creatures, they’d get hysterical. It’s good for me to get out of the house to see these movies because it gives me a dose of reality. The audience didn’t applaud the Hitchcock cameo at the beginning or the references to Berkeley. They sure didn’t seem too hip. I walked over to La Burrita, but they were out of French fries, so I had to change my order. I watched a bit of Jimmy Kimmel playing a Judge Judy role. I watched the beginning of the Banacek episode “Ten Thousand Dollars a Page,” which had Stella Stevens, David Doyle, David Wayne, Richard Schaal, George Lindsey, and Ted Cassidy in it. I fell asleep and awoke to see Peter Falk in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in an episode called “Bonfire.” I didn’t want to watch the news about the Pope, so I went back to the first episode of The Partridge Family, which was originally aired 45 years ago today. I did notice that Laurie actually put a strawberry into her mouth and seemed to be eating it in one scene, although she did not have the whipped cream. The Partridge Family name was above Duke Ellington on the Las Vegas marquee, and I saw that the bus had two different license plates. It was rather upsetting to see the A’s lose all three games to the Rangers. This will be my last baseball weekend for the year. I don’t know how much attention I will pay to the World Series this year. Perhaps I should root for the Royals or the Mets. Some of the people who died on September 25 include Erich Maria Remarque (1970), Walter Pidgeon (1984), Mary Astor (1987), George Plimpton (2003), and Don Adams (2005). Today is a birthday for Heather Locklear (54), Michael Madsen (58), Mark Hamill (64), Cheryl Tiegs (68), Michael Douglas (71), and Barbara Walters (86). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for September 25, “The Partridge Family,” loosely based on the story of The Cowsills, made its debut in 1970. In 1979, “Evita” had its Broadway premiere. In 1981, the Rolling Stones began their American concert tour at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia.

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