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The Making of Hitchcock's The Birds [Kindle Edition]

Moral Tony Lee
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In his most innovative and technically challenging film, The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock follows the success of Psycho with a modernist, avant garde horror-thriller, which has spawned many imitators and triggered the cycle for disaster and man versus nature films. Now to mark The Birds' 50th anniversary in 2013 and the digitally restored Blu-Ray release, The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds is the first book-length treatment on the production of this modernist masterpiece. Featuring new interviews with stars Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Veronica Cartwright, as well as sketches and storyboards from Hitchcock’s A-List technical team, Robert Boyle, Albert Whitlock and Harold Michelson, the book charts every aspect of the film’s production all set against the tumultuous backdrop of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and JFK’s presidency. Using unpublished material from the Alfred Hitchcock Collection, Evan Hunter files, Peggy Robertson papers and Robert Boyle’s artwork, this book will be the ultimate guide to Hitchcock’s most ambitious film.

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Review

'This fascinating book includes previously unpublished material and includes interviews with with the film's stars Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Veronica Cartwright.' --- An interview with Tony Lee Moral appeared in London Calling

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3633 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Kamera Books (26 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B9BL7II
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #614,969 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Tony Lee Moral is an author and documentary film maker who has written three books on Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock's Movie Making Masterclass (2013) published by MWP books; The Making of Hitchcock's The Birds (2013) published by Kamera Books and Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie (2005) published by Scarecrow Press.

His Hitchcock inspired mystery thriller Playing Mrs. Kingston (2014) is published by Zharmae Press in paperback and kindle.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing the film to life 29 May 2013
Format:Paperback
50 years after the original film and still regarded as a masterpiece by film viewers, just as the original film has been updated for Blu-ray, Tony Lee Moral brings the film to life by writing about how the it was made with such detailed information, you know almost as much about The Birds as Alfred Hitchcock, himself.

Where this book excels is how it explains the complete process of purchasing the rights to the short story to employing the writer and how Hitchcock controls the process as it's turned into a screenplay which the audience will watch, but only after a number of other people have interjected their influence on the script.

The writer, Evan Hunter, was himself a novelist before trying his hand at adapting into a screenplay writer and during this process you get to really feel how he devoted his life to writing the story and felt pulled apart by Hitchcock and the team, particularly with how they changed the writer's view of how the film would end.

You'll get to meet and feel that you know all of the cast and the crew as you read this book. It's interesting to note that everyone has only good words to say about Hitchcock, but you still understand that he was a demanding individual who ruled over his films. Recent films about Hitchcock have suggested that his character stepped too far over the line at times, but that's not the impression he receives in this compilation of non-fiction memories.

Understanding how preproduction worked back in the early 1960s is vastly different to the facilities of any modern producer and CGI enthusiast.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, comprehensive, fascinating 21 April 2013
By Brolyn
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Much has been written about The Birds before and recently the TV play 'The Girl' has once again brought the film, Hitch and Hedren to our attention. Tony Lee Moral's book, written from extensive interviews with crew and cast members is a worthy addition to any film lover's shelf and is illustrated with many photographs and sketches of the stars, crew and storyboards.

A few minor carps: Robert Boyle, the film's production designer is referred to as the 'art designer' in several places (one gets the idea but it's not really a term used by the industry). Also, despite some discussion of the psychoanalytical aspects of the plot, I'm surprised that Camille Paglia's BFI monograph The Birds is not referenced or discussed in the text. This is another extremely detailed, critical analysis (including Freudian aspects) of the film and could have been included in the bibliography if not in the text.

Overall however Mr Moral can be congratulated on his riveting book on a film which is now 50 years old and which continues to generate interest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars making of hitchcocks the birds 2 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent making of . Full of fascinating information about how the film was concieved an made, hitchcock,s shooting methods an style. Well worth a read
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've Been Hoping for a Book Like This for Sometime 27 Oct. 2013
By Gary P. Cohen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Birds is my favorite Hitchcock film. I've been fascinated by it since seeing it in the movies at age 12. I've seen it more times than I can count. (I one time sat through it three times in one day.) I love books on the making of films that I've enjoyed over the years. So I was excited to see this book on the making of "The Birds."
I enjoyed Tony Lee Moral's previous book "Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie," and while I think that that book went into greater detail on the making of that film than this one does on" The Birds," I still enjoyed this book greatly. I remember having a crush on Tippi Hedren from the first time I saw this film. I thought she was an absolutely lovely and classy woman and I still do. (I've had the pleasure of meeting her in person twice over the years.) I've been a fan of Rod Taylor since seeing him in George Pal's "The Time Machine." Both that and "The Birds" are two of my all-time favorite films. ("The Birds" is in my top twenty favorites.)
Anyway, you will learn all you need to know about the making of the classic film and, if you are a fan of Hitchcock's films or only this film classic, you really should read this book.
Highly recommended.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moral's Guide to the Birds 22 Nov. 2013
By MacheteJason - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Very interesting account about Hitchcock's The Birds by author Tony Lee Moral. I would argue what happened behind the camera is just as compelling as the film itself. Moral combines his own insights with quotes from many people surrounding the production of the film. It is quite interesting and a very good read. The book is organized in a logical way from acquiring the short story to filming it. In my opinion, it's on the same level as Hitchcock & the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello (which is also a good read for Hitchcock fans). It has the same strengths and weaknesses since more than one contradictory account of both films has since emerged over time. People who enjoyed the film will appreciate this book. It has 226 pages divided into 9 chapters: 1) Daphne Du Maurier's The Birds, 2) Writing The Birds, 3) The Cast and Crew, 4) Pre-Production, 5) On Location in Bodega Bay, 6) On the Sound Stage, 7) Electronic Sound, 8) Postproduction and Editing, and 9) The Birds is Coming!. There is also an Afterword.

I have a few minor complaints. The BBC/HBO film The Girl (2012) is mentioned but the allegations presented there about Hitchcock are not satisfactorily addressed in Moral's book so some of the stronger criticisms from Tippi Hedren aren't analyzed or even mentioned. The whole business about Hitchcock's dark side is seemingly brushed off though a few chapters mention the director's obsessiveness (notably towards the screenwriter and the leading lady). A few details throughout the text are inaccurate (e.g. some names aren't spelled correctly and a few comments on the film itself are wrong). I enjoyed The Birds Blu-ray release and felt the documentary included there was more complete. Despite the claims on the cover, this isn't the definitive account of the film's production because Moral's book could easily add another 100-200 pages to fill in some of the gaps and address the criticisms leveled at Hitchcock. Many things are not explained so there are loose ends to tie up (e.g. Rod Taylor signed a multi-picture deal with Hitch but only appeared in one film; an author wanted to sue Hitch because of plagiarism, etc.). However, this book is quite an enjoyable read but certainly not the last word on The Birds or Hitchcock. It seems there may never be a last word and that's a good thing. Good effort overall but at $27 it is pricey for only 224 pages. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase it again for $10-$15. Alas, many film books are overpriced so it's a common complaint anyway.

In 2008, Hedren gave new details about Hitchcock: he was watching her all the time, he tried to control everything from what she wore to what she ate and drank, she was being followed outside the set and reports were made and sent to Hitchcock, he told the cast and crew they were not allowed to talk to her, and Hedren also claimed Hitch tried to kiss her in the back of a car when they were alone. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle but there is little doubt Hitchcock was a larger than life figure with eccentricities. It is clear Moral isn't sympathetic to Hedren's interpretation. You may have to read the book and watch the BBC/HBO film The Girl to decide for yourself.

This book is a mixed bag because it starts out strong (the first three chapters are quite good) but the chapters on Electronic Sound and Postproduction & Editing are fairly dull (perhaps film students will appreciate them). Since it leaves some loose ends it's hard to rate more than 3 stars. Fans will appreciate the book but it is a fairly quick read.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT STUDY OF THE MASTER AT WORK 17 Feb. 2014
By Anthony McGill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tony Lee Moral has followed up his extensive study of Hitchcock's "Marnie" with what is probably the definitive production history of the director's previous film "The Birds". Interesting background to the original story written by Daphne du Maurier and the battles over Evan Hunter's screenplay. The "discovery" of Tippi Hedren for the main role, the huge technical problems of making the film and the training of crows, ravens and seagulls make for fascinating reading. One of the most interesting chapters is the one devoted to the use of electronic sound in preference to a music score and the influence of Bernard Herrmann and the German composers Gassmann and Sala. There's detailed coverage of on location filming in Bodega Bay plus the exhaustive studio and post-production and editiing work required. Also a wide coverage of the promotional campaign including the botched premiere of the film at MOMA and its successful venture at Cannes. All in all, everything you always wanted to know about "The Birds". 16 pages of informative photos, the majority in color. Next step, go and enjoy this excellent film on the big screen. Not Hitchcock's best film but still damn good!
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FOR THE BIRDS!!! 17 Sept. 2013
By Richard Masloski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The right words are supremely important. One wrong word can derail all the logic of an otherwise truthful sentence - or paragraph - or book. Case in point: on page 149 of the book under review, in describing the aftermath of shooting the sequence of Tippi Hedren in the phone booth during a bird attack wherein the impact of a dummy seagull shattered the glass causing it to spray all over the actress' skin, it states: "The makeup people spent the rest of the afternoon picking out tiny bits of glass from Tippi's face." A reader is lead, thusly, to visualize bits of glass as having penetrated the skin, since they had to be picked out. Yet we learn that the film's opening sequence in the bird shop was filmed the very next day! The thing is, if Ms. Hedren had glass that truly needed picking out from her face, wouldn't there have been some residual marks thereby preventing the next's days filming - which is replete with closeups of Tippi's face? Might it be more accurate that the makeup people merely brushed bits of the candy glass off of the actress' face? Of course, "picking" bits out sounds more dramatic! But...here is a case where a single word descriptive may impact the reader's or listener's mental reconstruction of an event that they were not privy to. As with the constant use of the word "thrown" or "hurled" as the manner in which the the birds were handled in certain sequences where Tippi's character is under attack. If the birds were actually "thrown" and "hurled" at the actress, how then did the Humane Association declare that there had been no "harm or mistreatment of the birds used in this film." The ASPCA was also onset during the attic attack sequence - and I suspect that seeing birds hurled and thrown at the actress would not have been countenanced, either for the birds' sake or the actress'. However, when recounting a tale, the words 'thrown' and 'hurled' have much more dramatic punch to them than using the word "sail" as in bird-trainer Ray Berwick's description of how the sequence was filmed: "We'd have to hold the birds at a distance of maybe eight or ten feet and just sail them right at her." "Sail" is so innocuous compared to "hurl." Of course, these issues of word choice are not faults of the author of this book. I am sure he was simply describing what he had learned via his research. Anyway, as an aside, in watching the recreation of this sequence - and actually watching the entire twisted movie of THE GIRL (the horrific HBO/BBC production of Tippi's times with Hitch) I wanted to puke! Ms. Hedren has also said that the man who gave her her career and fame was "Evil, and deviant, almost to the point of dangerous." Thankfully, the author of the book under discussion, Tony Lee Moral, offers a much more balanced approach to this aspect of the Hitch/Hedren relationship in his THE MAKING OF HITCHCOCK'S THE BIRDS. Kudos to the author for also informing his readers of the savehitchcock.com website, a fine site which admirably does what its URL says it intends to do.

As to the book itself, questions remain. Contrary to the blurb on the beautifully designed cover, this is NOT "The definitive production history of THE BIRDS." Some things are left hanging and others are erroneous. Erroneous is Chuck Connors misspelled name, always minus the 's' whenever the surname is written. This is a simple fact that someone should have caught. And in no way do we hear the voice of JFK on the radio broadcast prior to the final bird attack on the Brenner house, though Mr. Moral claims we do. In one part of the book the radio words are described as a "Kennedy-style" speech written by scriptwriter Evan Hunter. But later on they are said to be JFK's actual voice and words. Another unexplained discrepancy of fact is on page 111 wherein we are told that the man pumping gas is attacked by a real trained gull, yet a sentence later Evan Hunter is quoted as saying it was a fake bird on a wire that was used. Well, which was it? Having just watched the movie again, I'd opt for the former account - but this discrepancy isn't actually addressed in this book. And on pages 112 we are told that the the assistant director handled the attack on the school children - yet on the very next page Hitch is said to have told someone that "he had let himself become distracted by the presence of the press during the filming of the crow sequence." How Hitch allowed himself to become 'distracted' is not made clear - nor the depth of his involvement in the actual shooting of that location scene. Did Hitch let the AD handle the shoot because he was distracted by the press? This possibility is not explored. Also on page 116 in recounting the filming of the bird attack on the birthday party, we are told the sequence was filmed on location but also that "Hitchcock would recreate the entire scene in the studio." Why the Maestro would have done this is not detailed. The sequence as shown in the film seems to be entirely shot on location with none of the phony studio recreated settings apparent - such as the studio-bound sand dune sequence.

Some of the unanswered and unaddressed questions in the book are was Tippi's character's name of Melanie used because the actress' daughter was so named - or was it pure coincidence that Evan Hunter used this relatively unusual name? (I googled this question and still don't know!) We are told that one of French poet/playwright Jean Cocteau's dying wishes was to see the just released THE BIRDS - and that he did so just before he died in 1963. Yet we learn nothing of what he thought of it, if anything at all. We are told of one Frank Baker threatening a lawsuit against Hitch for plagiarizing his book THE BIRDS which detailed 'the destruction of the human race by vast hordes of savage birds, who descended in malefic force upon London, and tore it to chaos." The book was written in 1936 and author of the short story upon which Hitch's film was based, Daphne du Maurier, sympathized with Baker in his quest for justice. In Mr. Moral's book we are told that the lawsuit failed to materialize and Baker and his lawyers were "unable to file a suit for any claims of plagiarism." We are not told anything more - even though questions about this most-intriguing side-note remain.

Sadly for this book, most all of the information told herein is told wonderfully well by the real men and women who were behind THE BIRDS on the DVD's exceptional documentary ALL ABOUT THE BIRDS. The additional extras on the disc also cover much the same ground covered in the book - but have the added benefit of showing the real people in interview and easy-to-understand visuals dealing with the special effects and the making and marketing of the film. There isn't a heck of a lot that is new to the book, unfortunately.

However, if you love THE BIRDS or Hitch or movies or books or even birds themselves or all of the above, this is a handsome, engaging, interesting, mostly very well told story. The book is also extremely handsomely designed and would grace the shelf of any library.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Big Surprise. 8 Oct. 2014
By JCN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was suspicious of Mr. Moral's book at first. I loved his history of "Marnie" but here there are so many short chapters and headings in this making of "The Birds" book, that I thought his material might be scarce, second hand or previously discussed. Interviews with assistant hair dressers and wardrobe girls put me on my guard. But Mr. Moral has woven a detailed, technical and encaging tale of how this fine picture was made. Artistic choices, technical details and bathroom humor are all given a sympathetic ear. His portrayals of persons important and seemingly not makes you want to be friends with the lowliest grip or headlining actor. The book is a delight and well worth the price.
I am anxiously waiting to see if the excellent Mr. Moran can redeem and find worth in a 'Making of "Topaz" '.
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