It seems ridiculous to base one’s feelings of affection for a performer based on one role, but I will always see the late Suzanne Pleshette as Annie Hayworth, the doomed schoolteacher in Bodega Bay.
In Hitchock’s moody and poetic 1963 movie, “The Birds” the people seem lost and alone, trying to reach out to each other, but inhibited by social ritual and isolation. Only the sheer terror of inexplicable violence brings them together.
Annie lives alone in a plain wooden house, next to the school, and tends to her garden when she is not teaching. She is a young Bohemian, up from San Francisco, whose husky voice inhales many cigarettes, and whose nights were once spent in dark jazz clubs.
She had followed Mitch Brenner, a lawyer up here, years before, and now she stays and watches as he falls in love with another woman. Her life should be full of promise, for she is still young, but somehow she possesses the intuition that tragedy will always have the last word.
Annie with the red sweater, you welcomed a stranger named Melanie Daniels into your home, and offered her a place to stay for the night. You listened to her tale of woe. You saw yourself in the stranger, but instead of hating her, you understood her. You never kept your grudges, or stayed angry for long. You offered to help out at the birthday party, assisting the cold Lydia who once had kept you away from her son.
You were a good person, and you died needlessly, killed by some insane joke of nature that came out of the skies and attacked you in the front yard. But you were a Scotch drinking saint until the end.
We miss you already.