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Not Just for the Birds

Over Christmas break, I accidentally subscribed to a month of Blockbuster's movie delivery service--basically, I didn't cancel my free trial subscription in time to keep it a free trial. I hate doing stuff like that, but I decided to make the best use of it I could. This summer, I saw movies like It's a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington for the first time, and I genuinely enjoyed them, much to my surprise. So, when I realized my Blockbuster subscription snafu, I decided to begin watching so many of the classic movies that I have never seen.

That's where Alfred Hitchcock comes in--I had been wanting to watch his movies since I saw a documentary about them around five years ago. So, I watched Rear Window a few nights ago, which was pretty good. I wasn't overly thrilled with it, but it was pretty good. It didn't quite produce the feeling of suspense that I was expecting, although it was a movie that kept me in suspense until the end about whether any murder had been committed. Hitchcock did a very good job refraining from tipping his hand until the very end.

Today, however, I watched The Birds, and I loved it. The plot is simple: flocks of birds begin gathering ominously in a peaceful California town. Then, all of the sudden, the birds begin viciously attack the people--men, women, and children alike. Seriously, who makes a movie about swarming, violent, and deranged birds? Yet it worked so well. The scariest part of the movie is to consider how many of those same birds we walk past every day without even noticing them.

Another impressive part of the movie is how Hitchcock never finally explains what it was that makes the birds attack. It seems that, in most movies that I have seen, an integral part of the plot is the slow unraveling of an elaborate explanation behind the conflict in the story. Then, the resolution of the movie depends on doing something equally elaborate to solve the conflict. In The Birds, though, Hitchcock leaves just about every possible question unanswered.

Nothing is resolved. Birds blitzkrieg. I loved it.

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I love Blockbuster Online...by far the best movie renting option.

If you're still in the mood for Hitchcock, I recommend Vertigo and North by Northwest. Notorious is supposedly great, but I've somehow never gotten around to watching it.

Ooh, and if you're wanting more classic black and white, rent The Philadelphia Story. Cary Grant, James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn - one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time. Oh and Casablanca is a classic for a reason - it's seriously great. Oh and if you like TPS, check out Bringing Up Baby. And ooh, I bet you'd like Harvey - James Stewart and an invisible (imaginary?) 6 foot rabbit named Harvey.

Excuse me while I pass out from old movie excitement.

I just said "oh" or "ooh" four times in five sentences. That's kind of sad.

One more comment, and I promise I'm done for now. Hitchcock was famously hard on his actors (referring to them at various times as "cattle" and "props" that he moved around the set). Tippi Hedrin (the lead actress in "The Birds") was told that in one climactic scene where the birds attack her in a bedroom, that only stuffed and mechanical birds would be used, but Hitchcock secretly instructed the stage hands to fling live birds at her. They did so for a week until she had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for a week.

The Birds is so great. As is Vertigo. And didn't you see Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with us at Movies on the Green this past summer?

Mr. Knight--
(I'm guessing this is Jeff?) Yeah, I think it's a pretty good plan. I don't quite need the three-at-a-time plan, but I like the unlimited movies per month feature. So, for next month, I have it set up to pay only $9.99 (or something like that) for one-at-a-time, but unlimited rentals per month.

By the way, I'm glad you former pages are keeping up with Nebraska politics. I should do more of that.

Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I added Vertigo, North by Northwest, and The Philadelphia Story. I already had Casablanca and Harvey, but I moved them up.

Yes, that was when I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I really did enjoy myself. :)

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