“The Birds” is one of the classics of director Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography. However, the latter was not known to be a tender on the film set. Actress Tippi Hedren found out the hard way
The birds : Alfred Hitchcock’s last “great movie”
Considered a genius of British cinema, Alfred Hitchcock is undoubtedly one of the filmmakers who showed that this cinema could rise to the height of American, French or even German films during the pre-war years. This is how during the 1930s, he created his notoriety with feature films that have now become classics such as Blackmail, The 39 Steps or even A woman disappears. This allows him to see the Hollywood doors open wide to him in the 1940s.
In the USA, Alfred Hitchcock then lets all his genius burst for dark humour, suspense and twisted scenarios. Rebecca, The Rope, Shadow of a Doubt, The Chained Ones Where The House of Doctor Edwardes are already masterpieces that mark the 1940s. But it was especially in the 1950s that the British director reached his peak with a number of films considered to be the greatest in the history of the 7th Art: The Stranger of the Nord-Express, Window on Courtyard, La Main au Collet, La Mort aux Trousses or even Cold sweat. The director is also directing a television series titled soberly Alfred Hitchcock presents.
If the 60s are less glorious for Alfred Hitchcock, we still recognize him for two great films: Psychosis and The birds. For the latter, the director has a substantial budget, which will allow him to pay particular attention to the special effects. In effect, The birds is a real horror and invasion film like there are few at that time: we follow the inhabitants of the small town of Bodega Bay in California which suffers unexplained attacks by voracious birds.
Alfred Hitchcock’s film will once again be a great critical and commercial success. However, behind the scenes of the feature film, it will be another story.
Tippi Hedren in nightmare again
For this film, which required 3 years of preparation, Alfred Hitchcock hired an actress who was unknown at the time: Tippi Hedren. Like Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly before her, the latter is blonde, which once again shows Hitchcock’s fascination with this type of actress. However, what was an opportunity for the actress at the time, quickly turned into a nightmare for the latter.
Indeed, Alfred Hitchcock was not known to be soft on the actors and actresses he directed throughout his career. And this, although the latter became famous after playing in a film by the director. For Tippi Hedren, it’s a different story since the filmmaker’s obsession for his scenes to be as authentic as possible directly affects the actress. Thus, during a scene where the birds attack the city, his character takes refuge in a telephone booth. Except that a fake bird attached by a cable to bang against the glass, smash it right in Hedren’s face.
But it is especially during the final scene that the actress suffers the most. Indeed, during this sequence, his character is attacked by birds in an attic. While it is expected that mechanical birds will attack him, Alfred Hitchcock decides the same day to take real birds. The latter are relentless on the actress, one of them almost causing him to lose an eye! Exhausted by the filming, Tippi Hedren will have to abandon the following shots on the advice of her doctor.