Book Review “The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds”

makingthebirdsAuthor: Tony Lee Moral
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Oldcastle Books
Release Date: September 1, 2013

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When you think of great suspense horror films, you can’t help but immediately think of Alfred Hitchcock. The guy has such an eye for making films.  He was meticulous about his shots and has inspired a countless number people since with this style. “The Birds” was Hitchcock’s next film after “Psycho” and I am sure that the anticipation surrounding it was very high.  I saw this film first when I was a child and it scared the living daylights out of me.  Watching it as an adult, it is still very effective as it was then.  This new behind-the-scenes book is planning perfectly to coincide with the film’s 50th anniversary this year and it is also the first book-length look into the making of this production.  I had the privilege of speaking with the film’s star Tippi Hedren earlier this year, read here, and she reflected on this film and it’s reign over popular culture. The recent HBO film, “This Girl”, read our review here, also focused on the topic of the making of “The Birds” as well. Highly recommend. This book is a must for any fast of Hitchcock’s work and a very in depth look into the making of this amazing and rather timeless film.

Official Premise: 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 Using unpublished material from the Alfred Hitchcock Collection, Evan Hunter’s files, Peggy Robertson’s papers, and Robert Boyle’s artwork, this is the ultimate guide to Hitchcock’s most ambitious film. This book analyzes the film’s modernist underpinnings, from art director Robert Boyle’s initial sketches influenced by Munch’s The Scream, to the groundbreaking electronic score by pioneering German composers Remi Gassmann and Oskar Sala. There is also a time line detailing the film’s production to its release at MOMA in New York, and the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.

The book is authored by Tony Lee Moral, who is a documentary filmmaker, a writer, and the author of “Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass” and “Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie”. So I think that he is the right person for this job.  He has a vast understanding of Hitchcock and a real passion in his words. You can tell when you are reading this book that there is a certain admiration behind the words.  The only thing that I would have wanted more from this book would have been more photos.  I am sure that there are tons of great behind-the-scenes photos from this production. Don’t get me wrong there is a nice middle section with some very crispy color and black and white shots. I am just a visual guy and a big fan of the art of books.  I would have like to have seen the photos spread out throughout book and posted in areas where they were relative to the book’s narrative. Overall though, I enjoy this quite a bit and look forward to passing it to a friend to enjoy as well. Now if you excuse me, I have to go watch “The Birds” again on Blu-ray. I have a sudden urge to enjoy this masterpiece of cinema for some strange reason.


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