Melanie Daniels is the daughter of a newspaper mogul and likes to perform publicity stunts. One day while at a bird shop, a stranger shows up and acts as if Melanie is a worker and requests two lovebirds. It turns out that the man is Mitch Brenner, a criminal lawyer who hates practical jokes. He pulled this stunt to show her how it feels to be the target. Melanie wants revenge, so she buys two love birds and surprises him by delivering them herself. Once in the fishing town of Bodega Bay, Melanie is attacked by a bird, which is the beginning of thousands of birds attacking people in the town.
The Birds is Hitchcock at his best, in this thriller horror that pits nature against man. Although only Bodega Bay is shown attacked by birds, it is implied that the attacks had spreading elsewhere.
The story is simple: birds attacking people for no evident reason. Hitchcock makes it work by focusing on just a few people and their reaction to the attacks, not the cause of the attack. The Birds is a character-driven story with great character development.
It has a few character subplots that make them seem more believable. Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) become romantically involved. Mitch's mother, Lydia (Jessica Tandy), is protective of her son because she does not want to be left alone.
Making extensive use of SFX, it features 370 effects shots and the final shot is a composite of 32 separately filmed elements. Blue screen & matte shots were not acceptable due to the rapid movement of the birds, so an new, alternative sodium vapor process was used.
Some memorable scenes include the birds attacking the school children as they run from the school, Melanie witnessing birds attacking people outside while she is in a phone booth, and the ending with birds everywhere. Many other possible endings were considered but Hitchcock settled on an ending without the usual "THE END" title because he wanted to imply that the attacks weren't over.
There is no musical score but it uses a mixtrautonium, an electronic instrument. The children singing the Scottish song, "The Wee Cooper O'Fife, " in the school as the birds begin gathering is creepy. It is an odd choice because the song is about wife beating.
The Birds is a classic horror by Hitchcock. It is a must-see for fans of Hitchcock, classic horror, and apocalyptic stories.