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The Making of Hitchcock's The Birds Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
I've read many books about Hitchcock, and this book is in my top 5. Focusing on one movie, in depth, is a very good idea. It's very well written and holds your interest.
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