Five years after THE BIRDS, Alfred Hitchock would finally receive his one and only Academy Award - and an honorary one at that; the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Bob Hope and Robert Wise present the award to the master of the mystery below, hot off of FRENZY.
Now, take in the star of SPELLBOUND, UNDER CAPRICORN and NOTORIOUS paying due diligence to Hitch at the AFI Tribute - the one and only screen icon herself, Ingrid Bergman. "Adorable genius", indeed.
Hitch accepts his AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and once again displays his wit and way with a word. "The one and only master of suspense," indeed - cue the classic theme song.
In this AFI Master seminar discussion, Hitchcock presents an example and explanation of how cinematic tension is created - a foremost facet of the near-tortuous suspense of THE BIRDS. And, in THE BIRDS, "the bomb" never does go off at all - making it that much more chilling as the credits start to roll. Hitchcock reportedly filmed a subsequent scene wrapping up the story more neatly, but excised the finale after early test screenings proved it unnecessary, and, as Hitch himself supposedly believed, detrimental to the film's ultimate, shattering effect.
Hitch outlines his desire to provoke an emotional response from the audience above all else - quite true of THE BIRDS; and, though many of his finest films function highly on all levels, it is the overall cumulative effect that makes us remember them in the end (and part of what compels us to revisit them time and time again, one could justifiably also say).
Hitchcock discusses the differences between mystery and suspense insofar as genres - and if anybody was ever the indisputable authority on either, it undoubtedly was Hitch!
In a career-centric conversation conducted near the end of his productive film period, Hitchcock expounds on a variety of topics in this incredibly informative interview with Tom Snyder from 1973 on TOMORROW.
Lastly, enjoy a trio of trailers for the three films that Hitchcock created in the years leading up to THE BIRDS -VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and PSYCO. How would you categorize each as far as dramatic sub-categories are concerned? Which film is a mystery? Suspense? Horror? All? None? Other?
VERTIGO - 1958 (Mystery)
NORTH BY NORTHWEST - 1959 (Suspense)
PSYCHO - 1960 (Horror)
As a special bonus, THE BIRDS lead Tippi Hedren joins TCM interviewer Ben Mankiewicz for a discussion about the film at a special TCM screening from April, 2011 in the three-part audience capture of the event begun below.
Which one of Hitchcock's three other major masterpieces would you like to see re-released in a movie theater most of all - VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST or PSYCHO? Or, better yet, what about a chance to catch a triple-feature - or, better yet, make it a full-out film festival and show all four of Hitchcock's finest films right in a row! The possibilities are endless - and, who knows?
And, so, too, goes to the main theme of THE BIRDS: who knows? And, additionally: why? When will they be back again? How will we know? What will cause it? What can we do?
As for traveling to picaresque California circa 1963 for a coastal drive with a beautiful, steely Hitchcock blonde by your side, just for a kick and a bit of a thrill? Well, heck, why not?! Though, if you decide to go, just remember: don't look up.
Pat Cerasaro is a playwright and screenwriter currently in pre-production on his first feature film.|