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Old November 8 2010, 01:07 AM   #782
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Re: Movies Seen in 2010

I haven't seen the remake of THE CRAZIES, but the original left me less than impressed. I like the point Romero makes, but he does it in a way that is less subtle than is usual even for him, and with especially weak production values and poor performances.

254. The Birds [B+]

THE BIRDS is probably the last of Hitchcock's films that the director was proud of without equivocation. I don't think it's his best film by any means (I prefer NORTH BY NORTHWEST amongst several others), but it is certainly as well made as any film by the 'master of suspense.' His use of sound is particularly advanced beyond his other work, and of course the visual effects are well beyond anything found in the rest of his filmography (in that sense THE BIRDS is the most ambitious film ever attempted by Hitchcock). As far as the performances go, ‘Tippi’ Hedren, Jessica Tandy, and Rod Taylor are all perfectly adequate. Hitchcock found them to be less than the standard set by Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, and while I have to agree to a certain extent, I think that he undervalued their performances in this film a bit. The odd triangle of Taylor, Tandy, and Hedren is fun to watch, and keeps the first half of the film (which is basically a screwball comedy with the threat of the birds occasionally in the background) entertaining enough that it never feels like the film is marking for time waiting for the good stuff.

And the birds, oh my, does Hitchcock manage to make such a benign presence such a threat. The schoolhouse scene in particular, where the birds multiply every time the camera cuts away, creates an incredible sense of menace.

If I have any problem with THE BIRDS it would be that the ending is too abrupt. If it had been made ten years later, in a period when end credits were used, the final image of the car fading into the distance could be twice as chilling. As it stands, there’s not nearly enough time for the image to sink in before the Universal logo comes up and the film is over.
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