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The Birds

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Including The Birds in our Movie Atlas is a bit of a cheat. Usually we feature movies that were filmed entirely on location, and Hitchcock's seminal horror flick uses plenty of studio footage. But it put Bodega Bay on the map. Big time.

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The map in question would be one of northern California, Sonoma County to be precise. In 1961, when Hitchchock was looking for a remote coastal location in which to film his adaptation of a short story by Daphne Du Maurier (the original was set on the English seashore), he found Bodega Bay, a quiet fishing village surrounded by bleak hills and fog.

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The movie tells the story of a young San Francisco socialite, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), who visits the coastal town of Bodega Bay when her interest is piqued by a local man, Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor). Shortly after she arrives, the village is plagued by swarms of vicious birds.

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The film was made on location and on set in equal part, and it's relatively easy to spot the difference between real and fake. The main village scenes were filmed on set at Universal Studios, and painted landscape backdrops are pretty obvious.

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But you see plenty of Bodega Bay (and adjacent Bodega). The scenes of Hedren driving her Aston Martin into Bodega Bay, for example, were filmed on Bay Hill Road, about a mile and a half north of the Sonoma Coast Visitors Center.

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Buildings which appear in the movie include the 150-year-old Potter Schoolhouse in Bodega (slated for demolition but rebuilt by Hitchcock and still standing today), the Catholic Church (also famously photographed by Ansel Adams), the Tides Restaurant (since remodeled), and a house in the Gafney ranch on Westshore Road in Bodega Head, surrounded in cedar trees (they still exist though the house is long gone).

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It's nearly 50 years since the movie was first shown, but it made such an impact that fans still flock to Bodega Bay today. It's easy to imagine why. – Roshan McArthur

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