From a man's out-of-control fear of heights in "Vertigo" to the unforgettable shower scene in "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock was a master at drawing terror from the ordinary.
In Hitchcock's 1963 film "The Birds," a seemingly romantic plot soon dissolves as birds inexplicably attack residents at an isolated coastal California town.
The Capitol Theatre will screen the surreal horror film Saturday, part of its classic movie series. Here are some lesser-known facts about the Academy Award-nominated movie.
The Daphne connection
Hitchcock and screenwriter Evan Hunter adapted "The Birds" from a short story by Daphne Du Maurier. Hitchcock's first U.S. film, "Rebecca," was also based on a Du Maurier novel, and in total he would adapt five of her stories. Hitchcock had an obvious appreciation for Du Maurier's suspenseful tales, but "The Birds" strays far from the original story. Hitchcock said he only read the story once, "and quickly at that," according to a 2005 article in The Telegraph.
In addition to Du Maurier's story, Hitchcock was inspired by a news story he read about suicidal seagulls crashing into houses along the California coast. Scientists would eventually determine that the birds had been poisoned by toxic algae, but the haunting image of seagulls dive-bombing houses was enough for Hitchcock's genius to run with. Paired with the era's fears of nuclear war with Cuba or Russia, as well as childhood memories of London air raids during World War II, the director weaved together what Italian director Federico Fellini would call "an apocalyptic poem," according to Turner Classic Movies.
A spooky school
The movie was filmed in Bodega, California, a town already known for its haunted schoolhouse. Tippi Hedren, who played the heroine in the film, said the entire cast was afraid of the place. Hedren said that, while at the schoolhouse, she had the feeling that "the building was immensely populated... but there was nobody there," according to Internet Movie Database. Hedren said that, when she told Hitchcock about the schoolhouse, he was even more happy to film there.
As the movie wasn't scary enough
"The Birds" has developed an enduring reputation as one of history's most haunting movies. Readers of The Times newspaper in London voted it the seventh-scariest movie of all time in 2006, and in 2015 Horror Film Central ranked it history's scariest horror movie that involved animals.
However, managers at the Odeon Leicester Square theater in London decided to scare their audience further. After the movie's UK premier ended, theater-goers there walked out of the film to the jolting screeching and flapping sounds of birds, coming from hidden loudspeakers, according to IMDB.
If you go
What: "The Birds," a 1963 suspense / horror film by Alfred Hitchcock
Where: The Capitol Theatre, 50 N. George St., York
When: Saturday, May 21, 7 p.m.
Website to get tickets: tickets.strandcapitol.org
Other upcoming movies
Reservoir Dogs: June 4, 3 p.m.
The Hateful Eight: June 4, 6 p.m.
The Maltese Falcon: June 11, 7 p.m.
12 Angry Men: June 18, 7 p.m.