Tippi Hedren / Alfred Hitchcock

Remind me to tell you a story about doughnuts and their manufacture will you?

Oh, I’ve heard that! It’s a terrible story!

In order to do the screen test, we needed a leading man and Hitch flew Martin Balsam out from New York to be my leading man. He had just come out of Psycho.

The Birds

Release date:   March 28, 1963
Director:       Alfred Hitchcock
Story:          Daphne du Maurier
Screenplay:     Ed McBain

Tell me, Mr. Balsam, what exactly do you have in mind?

The screen test was put together, and I guess everybody saw it, and Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock invited me to dinner at Chasens. Lew Wasserman was sitting to my left and Alma and Hitch were to my right, and — he placed — Hitch placed a very, very beautifully wrapped package from Gumps in San Francisco. It was one of his favorite shops. And I opened the box and there was this beautiful pin of three birds in flight, with the seed pearls and gold, and I looked over at Hitch, and he said, “We want you to play Melanie in The Birds.”

Well, I started to cry. These big tears welled up, because I didn’t expect that. I really didn’t expect that. And I looked at Hitch, and he was a little watery, and Alma and even Lew Wasserman, this big movie mogul, he had one little tear coming down here. It was a very exciting evening. It was just incredible. And then the whole — all of the work really began. One night we all sat around and talked about — he talked — about different endings to the movie.

It was fascinating listening to him. All the different versions of what it could be.

I toyed with the idea at one time of lap-dissolving. They’re in the car and they look, and there’s the Golden Gate Bridge, covered in birds.

Hitchcock, of course, was always looking for a promotion to do, you know, that would bring public awareness to what he was doing. And very publicity minded. So he decided that, in order to get a little more publicity, he would have us swear that we would never tell the ending of the movie until it was ready to come out into the theatres. And it was kind of amusing, too, because at the point where we did that, he didn't really know what the ending was going to be.

How do you do. My name is Alfred Hitchcock and I would like to tell you about our good friends, the birds.

From All About The Birds.