Study Guide

The Birds Scene 14

Scene 14

Scene 14

  • Melanie is in the town diner, on the phone with her father.
  • She's trying to convince him that there have been deadly bird attacks in Bodega Bay; he's not really buying it.
  • A patron at the restaurant, Mrs. Bundy, explains the difference between crows and blackbirds; the children were attacked by crows.
  • Mrs. Bundy is an amateur ornithologist; she's very certain the birds couldn't possibly have attacked the children.
  • You can tell she's smart and snooty and wrong because she has a British accent. Never trust anyone in Hollywood movies with a British accent.
  • Melanie tries to get in touch with Mitch by phone.
  • Meanwhile, the folks in the diner argue; one guy shouts that it's the end of the world, while the rest quibble about whether birds could really have attacked the school.
  • A fisherman says that gulls have been attacking his boats.
  • A mother in the corner asks everyone to be quieter because the talk is scaring the children.
  • There's a lot of arguing.
  • One guy wants to kill all of the birds. But Mrs. Bundy says there are way too many birds for that.
  • More arguing.
  • The mom in the corner gets increasingly hysterical.
  • Mitch shows up with Al. Melanie explains that Cathy is with Annie at Annie's house.
  • The diner folks are supposed to tell you (yes, you) what to think about all this; you're supposed to be confused, scared, and disbelieving.
  • Still more arguing. The mom leaves with her kids to get out of town to San Francisco.
  • Mitch talks to the fisherman, but the fisherman is skeptical. Mitch talks about using smoke to confuse the birds.
  • Just then, Melanie hears birds shrieking, and you're back to bird attacks, thank goodness. Shmoop couldn't have stood much more of that pointless arguing.
  • Out the window, Melanie sees seagulls swoop down and knock over a guy at a gas pump.
  • Mitch races outside with Al and others to try to do something about the birds.
  • The mother with her kids comes running back in.
  • The men get to the guy at the pump, but they don't see that the gas nozzle is loose and that gas is pouring into the street toward some parked cars.
  • The folks at the window of the diner look out in horror.
  • Melanie sees a man about to light a cigar; he doesn't see that the gasoline has reached his car. You do. Oh, no.
  • She and other people in the diner shout to him not to drop the match, but he doesn't see them in time. He drops it, and the car blows up, incinerating him.
  • Other cars explode, and the fire races back toward the gas pump, where there's a tremendous explosion.
  • There's a shot of Melanie's horrified face, then the camera POV goes way up into the air.
  • You see the flames spreading far down below, and then birds flying about, cawing, before getting ready to swoop down and do some more damage. This is one of the most famous shots in the film.
  • And … whoosh, back down to the diner, where people are coming outside for unclear reasons. Why not go into the basement? Doesn't anyone have a basement in Bodega Bay?
  • Melanie runs outside, heading for a phone booth.
  • She shuts herself in and cowers as the birds smash against the glass.
  • She thrashes around helplessly inside—a kind of foreshadowing of the famous attic scene you'll get to later if the birds don't get you first.
  • There's a gory scene of a bloody guy beset by birds staggering up to the phone booth.
  • The birds start breaking through the glass, but Mitch comes to get her and helps her inside the restaurant.
  • They find everybody hiding in the back hallway.
  • Everyone looks traumatized, even the skeptical ornithologist.
  • The mother starts ranting hysterically and says it's all Melanie's fault because the birds weren't here until Melanie arrived and she's EVIL.
  • Melanie slaps her, which seems like the thing to do. Everyone's horrified.
  • The owner of the diner pops back in and says the birds are going away.

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