austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

I don't know, I'm not crying, laughin' mostly as you can see

Oh, I forgot something that probably goes sensibly before the pinball league. We discovered our preferred local movie theater runs classic movies at noon on Saturday mornings. We'd missed most of this season's offerings, but one of them coming right up was Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, which we'd seen but not on the big screen. It demanded from us the sacrifice of getting up before noon and on a weekend but we're not actually that bad about getting up in the morning, if we have a good reason for it.

Movie theaters get a different feel the earlier in the day you go, just by virtue of having fewer staff and then the daylight streaming through the windows and all that. This early they didn't seem to even be bothering checking tickets; we got our tickets from an automated machine and I'm not positive they had an attendant at the booth up front. Maybe they figure if you're coming in to see a movie before noon it might as well be on the honor system.

The movie itself, sure, nice and suspenseful and exciting, particularly since the film takes its sweet time getting to serious bird attacks, and there's only a couple points where characters have to be ostentatiously stupid. Something bunny_hugger observed as particularly interesting is that there are three major roles for women in the film, all interesting, meaty roles (four, if you count the kid) that are well-played, and yet, the film spectacularly fails the Bechdel Test. (As best we can remember, anyway.) Even in the midst of the bird attacks the women's conversation inevitably comes back around to … uh … surely Rod Taylor's character has a name, but not much else. It'd be one thing if he clearly knew how to handle the bird problem, but he's in way over his head just like everybody else, so, really, why talk about him? (I admit I'd be at a loss for stuff to do if birds started wantonly attacking civilization, but I don't expect all the women I know to spend the apocalypse chatting about me.)

In reading about on the movie I learned that the short story it was based on was also adapted for a 1953 episode of Lux Radio Theatre. So there's a fair chance I've encountered that, although I didn't notice it at the time and might have even thought it was an adaptation of the movie. It would defy the unidirectional flow of time for Lux Radio Theatre to adapt the movie, since Lux ended in 1955 and the movie to 1963, but I wouldn't offhand have known that Lux didn't go on to the end of old-time radio (1962) and I couldn't have pinned down The Birds's release more precisely than ``early 60s''.

There's a special kind of horror that comes from noticing something everyday, like, now and then there'll be a tree full of birds, and turning it to something frightening. Maybe that's part of why The Birds endures so.

Trivia: Vitaphone disks of 1927, used for the first commercially successful talking pictures, had frequency response of up to about 4300 cycles per second. Human hearing reaches about 20,000 cycles. The Speed of Sound, Scott Eyman.

Currently Reading: Humboldt's Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Latin American Journey that Changed the Way We See the World, Gerard Helferich.

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