Hollywood’s two most famous birds must be Donald Duck and Woody Woodpecker. Between them they’ve starred in almost three hundred films.
This weekend Donald and Woody are joined by Tyler Blu Gunderson, a rare male Spix’s macaw, voiced by Jesse Eisenberg making his second big screen appearance in Rio 2. He’s joined by a cast of fine feathered friends, including a Yellow Canary (Jamie Foxx), a rapping Red-crested Cardinal (will.i.am) and a sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Jemaine Clement), as they leave their home in Rio de Janeiro for the Amazon rainforest.
The colorful co-stars in Rio 2 are animated which makes them a much more agreeable lot than Tippi Hedren’s cast mates in her most famous movie. In the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds she plays a wealthy socialite visiting Bodega Bay in Northern California when hundreds of ravens, seagulls and pigeons begin viciously attacking the townsfolk.
Some of the birds were props, but many of them were all too real. Actors with ground meat and anchovies daubed on them to entice the birds escaped with nips and scratches but Hedren took the worst of it during the shooting of the movie’s famous attic scene.
She had been told mechanical birds would be used to in the sequence that sees her trapped in a small room while birds attack her. When she arrived at the shoot she saw a cage built around the set and realized the plan had changed. For a week real birds were thrown at her by stagehands. Pecked and scratched by birds attached to her by elastic bands she screamed and sobbed as one of them gouged her eye. It was such a traumatic sight Cary Grant, who dropped by the set to say hello, said, “You’re one brave lady.
It’s no wonder Hedren chose Marnie, and not The Birds, as her favorite Hitchcock leading role.
As distressing as the shoot for The Birds might have been, the movie is now considered a classic.
That can’t be said for a film inspired by Hitchcock’s avian terror.
Birdemic: Shock and Terror director James Nguyen says the inspiration for his movie dates back to 2006 when he saw a flock of seagulls flying toward him at Half Moon Bay south of San Francisco. The sight reminded him of Hitchcock’s film, but he thought, “What if I make a movie where instead of seagulls and crows, it’s birds of prey? There’s nothing more shocking than eagles and vultures.”
The self-financed film took four years to finish and laid an egg in theatres before it became a cult hit as one of the worst film ever made.
When asked what Hitchcock would have thought of Birdemic Nguyen told Empireonline.com, “I think Mr. Hitchcock would forgive a lot of its imperfections and say, ‘James, you did what you could. Do another one and try to do it better.’”
“Grand Hotel… always the same. People come, people go. Nothing ever happens.”
That famous line from the Greta Garbo film Grand Hotel is only half right. Hundreds of movies have used hotels as a backdrop for the action because people come, people go, but despite the quote’s assertion, there’s always something happening.
This weekend’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is a case in point. Starring Ralph Fiennes as a concierge at a European hotel between the world wars, it features an all-star cast, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton. They are all part of the fabric of the hotel’s history, which includes assassins, murder, riches and a mysterious painting.
Hollywood has always recognized that the transient nature of hotels makes for great drama.
New York City’s Plaza Hotel has played host to many famous movie scenes. Everything from Barefoot in the Park to Funny Girl to The Great Gatsby has used the iconic hotel as a backdrop, but it is probably best known as a location for North by Northwest. In the Alfred Hitchcock film Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a government agent and kidnapped from the ornate lobby.
The opening shot of Goldfinger features a stunning aerial view of Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, which at the time was the most luxurious guesthouse on Miami Beach. Later in the film Bond Girl Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) dies of skin asphyxiation inside the hotel after henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) coats her whole body in gold paint.
In the 1920’s the Hotel del Coronado was a famous weekend getaway for Hollywood stars like Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn but the Victorian wooden beach resort found fame as the setting for several scenes in Some Like it Hot. Located on San Diego Bay across from San Diego, the beachfront location was the scene of one of the film’s most famous lines. When Jerry (Jack Lemmon) first spies Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) sashaying through the sand he says, “Look how she moves! It’s like Jell-O on springs.”
Stephen King was inspired to write The Shining after staying at the 140-room Stanley Hotel in Colorado. “I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years,” says Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers) in the film version. “And not all of ’em was good.”
The Stanley has been used as a location for Dumb and Dumber and other films, but Stanley Kubrick chose not to showcase the place in his 1980 adaptation of the novel. Instead, much to King’s disappointment, he used Oregon’s Timberline Lodge as a stand-in for the film’s fictional Overlook Hotel.