how did hitchcock film the birds

What Happened Between Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren During ‘The Birds’?

how did hitchcock film the birds

Tippi Hedren faced other dangers on the set besides the birds. Although difficult director-actor relationships are not unusual, Hedren claimed that Alfred Hitchcock’s persistent harassment of her left her “in a mental prison.” Hedren appeared in just one TV ad before Hitchcock offered her a seven-year contract. Hedren, a successful model in New York at the time, had no interest in acting at first, but she couldn’t turn down the contract’s guaranteed steady income because she was a divorced mother of a small child. Hitchcock chose Hedren to play the lead in The Birds following a screen test.

Hedren quickly identified a pattern in the master of suspense’s behavior because she worked with him every day. In her 2016 memoir, she recalled that “my next exchange with Hitchcock would be icy and a bit petulant every time Id be laughing and talking with a male member of the cast or crew.” When they were alone, the director made it a point to read filthy limericks to Hedren or to give her particularly scathing and pointed criticism. He also started staring at Hedren “relentlessly” on set, to the point where the other members of the cast and crew noticed. Even fellow cast member Suzanne Pleshette felt compelled to tell Hedren, who was new to Hollywood, that most of Hollywood wasn’t like Hitchcock.

Hedren claimed that the director’s harassment of her on set turned into a “obsession,” involving him following her around her home, driving by, and having her handwriting examined. And finally, it escalated to actual assault. One evening after filming, she claims they were alone in his limo when he threw himself on top of her and tried to kiss her as they pulled up to her hotel. She yelled at him to stop, shoved him away, and leaped out of the car, according to her memoir’s account of the event.

The Birds Were Drugged and Spread Lice Amongst the Crew

Co-star Rod Taylor claimed in a 1998 interview with Hello Magazine that the trainers fed the gulls wheat mixed with whiskey to make them more docile. “The only reason those birds stayed still was because they were drunk!” he exclaimed. “They couldnt get away with it now.” The crew indeed admitted to tranquilizing the gulls perched on top of the house in the final scene and tying them in place to ensure they didnt take off, but this resulted in the birds frequently falling off the roof and being left dangling by the legs, forcing stagehands to climb the sides of the house to retrieve and reposition them. To make matters even worse, many of the birds carried lice, and it wasnt long before the parasites spread to cast and crew members.

And inevitably, some of the birds escaped, both outside and in the sound stage. Associate editor Bud Hoffman claimed that a large flock of crows made a home in a tree on the grounds of Hitchcocks residence at Universal and began constantly defecating on the directors car. They proved immune to every attempt to remove them, eventually forcing the maintenance crew to cut off the trees branches to convince the crows to roost elsewhere.

Themes and style edit

The Birds delves into several important themes, including love and violence. The way that birds are portrayed in the movie evolves throughout to suit how these themes and the narrative progress. Initially, the lovebirds in the pet shop represent Melanie and Mitch’s budding romance as well as their sex tension. [36] But once the birds start attacking Bodega Bay, their meaning shifts. In an interview, Hitchcock said that the film’s birds rebel against humans as a form of retaliation for their disregard for the natural world. [37].

For the BFI Film Classics series, humanities scholar Camille Paglia wrote a monograph about the movie. According to her interpretation, it is a tribute to the various aspects of female sexuality and, consequently, nature. She notes that women play pivotal roles in it. Mitch’s relationships with his mother, sister, and ex-lover define him; this delicate balance is upset by his attraction to Melanie, who is stunning. [38].


How did they get all those birds in the movie The Birds?

Some of the “crows” were actually ravens. The gulls were caught in the San Francisco garbage dump and the sparrows were caught by John “Bud” Cardos. However, the captured sparrows had to be used alongside birds from pet shops to achieve full effect in the scene where they invade the house.

How many birds were used in filming The Birds?

Over 25,000 live birds were used during filming, but it was difficult to catch them, as crows and ravens outsmarted the crew and many birds carried lice. Tippi Hedren, the star of the film, was subjected to Alfred Hitchcock’s relentless harassment, with him reciting dirty limericks and even assaulting her in his limo.

How did they train all The Birds in the movie The Birds?

In the opening scene of this movie, the same thing happens as she walks toward the bird shop. This was an inside joke by Hitchcock. Rod Taylor claims that the seagulls were fed a mixture of wheat and whiskey. It was the only way to get them to stand around so much.

Did Alfred Hitchcock use real birds?

According to Hitchcock, 28,000 birds were used (out of which 3,200 were trained, 30 were considered special, and 4 were so consistently reliable they became leads).