5 Surprising Facts About Hitchcock's "The Birds"

On March 28, 1963, the Alfred Hitchcock film "The Birds" premiered in New York. To celebrate the anniversary of this Hollywood classic, here are five interesting facts you didn't know about this famous Hitchcock film...

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Mattel Celebrated The Movie's 45th Anniversary With a Barbie Doll By 2008, "The Birds'' had already been out for 45 years. And to celebrate that occasion, toymaker Mattel came out with a commemorative Barbie doll based on the film's main character, Melanie Daniels. The character was played by Tippi Hedren, who made her screen debut in the film, and Mattel's Barbie doll was a dead ringer for Hedre, right down to the famous green Edith Head suit worn by the character. 
The Barbie doll also came with some interesting accessories including three detachable crows in attacking positions.

A Television Sequel Came Out in 1994 Many hit movies have come out with sequels, and The Birds was no exception. However, The Birds II: Land's End was not shown in theaters but was instead a small screen production premiering on March 14, 1994, on Showtime. Hedren appears in the low-budget sequel, but interestingly, she did not reprise her infamous role as Melanie Daniels. Instead, she played the role of a new character named Helen. Hedren claims to have regretted making the film, as did director Rick Rosenthal, who was so dissatisfied with the end product that he used the pseudonym Alan Smithee in place of his real name during the opening credits. 

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An Avian Hospital Was Set Up to Ensure the Birds Were Unharmed Animal handler Ray Berwick was hired to train hundreds of birds for use in the movie, along with an entire team of crew members who handled the birds in between takes. The American Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) was on set to ensure the animals were never harmed during filming and oversaw the building of an avian hospital for any injured birds. A large net was also set up to prevent the birds from flying through the studio.

Alfred Hitchcock's Dogs Made a Cameo Alfred Hitchcock was both the master of suspense and an early adopter of cinematic Easter eggs. Hitchcock was known to make brief appearances in his films. But he also got his own dogs in on the action in The Birds. Hitchcock's furry friends made on-screen cameo in the film during the scene when Melanie goes into a pet shop near the beginning of the movie. In fact, Hitchcock himself leads the small Sealyham Terriers out of the store during the scene.

A Mickey Mouse Co-Creator Helped With Special Effects While most of the birds seen in the film are the real thing, some were mechanical and used for special effects. Further, the film involved a bit of matte work, which involves combining images from two separate reels of film. Hitchcock enlisted the help of Ub Iwerks to assist with these effects. Iwerks had plenty of experience in this department, working for Walt Disney since 1924 and even helping to create the famous Mickey Mouse in 1927.