Although Alfred Hitchcock was a British citizen, we "yanks" claim him as well. He created successful movies, popular television shows and collections of horror stories that have made all of us fans.
Personally, I was introduced to Hitchcock early in my life when my mom would take me to the movies every Wednesday. It was a special time for us. My first memory of Hitchcock was in the film "Dial M for Murder" with Grace Kelly. It was a good murder mystery that wasn't too scary. That was followed by "Rear Window," again with Hitchcock favorites Grace Kelly and Jimmy Stewart. The succession of hits goes on and on: "To Catch a Thief" (with Grace Kelly and another Hitchcock favorite, Cary Grant), "The Trouble with Harry" starring Iowa-born Jerry Mathers, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," etc. I have fond memories of "Psycho," to which I took a date!
This week at the Orpheum one of Hitchcock's most memorable films, "The Birds," will be presented. The film asks the question, "What would happen if all the birds in the world turned on mankind?" It is a terrifying thought and presented with Hitchcock's magic touch. The film stars newcomer Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette and Jessica Tandy.
Even in 1963, the special effects in this movie are a little lame, so it isn't surprising that people today will find them rather poorly done. I have noticed in several Hitchcock films that he doesn't really seem to care about the special effects of his films. I remember the scene in "Rear Window" when Jimmy Stewart falls from a second story window or when Kim Novak falls from the tower in "Vertigo." Both of these effects used the same technique and both were amateurly done. One will find that some of the special effects in "The Birds" are equally disappointing; however, the stories that Hitchcock puts on the screen are wonderful directed and will stay in one's memory for years. Everyone from my generation remembers the fear instilled in those who saw the shower scene in "Psycho." "The Birds" has some of those moments, too. I think that Marshalltown people will never look at the pigeons sitting on the telephone wires on Center Street viaduct without thinking of the film.
Check it out this week at the Orpheum. The film was produced before ratings in 1963, but I think it would probably be rated PG or possibly PG-13.
The show times are 7 p.m. Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit the theatre for tours, or call the Orpheum Theater Center movie hotline at 641-844-5907 or visit www.orpheumcenter.com
Tom LaVille is a retired Marshalltown drama and literature teacher. LaVille's Critic's Corner column appears Friday in the Times-Republican.