BODEGA, Calif. — Bodega and Bodega Bay. They share similar names, but are two separate coastal towns with two separate identities. However, there’s one movie that will forever bond these Sonoma County communities.
In 1963, Alfred Hitchcock filmed his frightening thriller "The Birds" in the two communities. Longtime resident and movie extra Jolene Piazza Orr said it put them on the map.
“We get tourists from all over asking about 'The Birds'," Orr said.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, the plot is simple. Birds attack the town of Bodega Bay for no obvious reason. Stars Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Jessica Tandy spend the rest of the film trying to not to be brutally pecked to death.
Orr was six at the time of the filming. She said her role in the movie was to run down the hill from the old Potter Schoolhouse, pretending to be attacked by birds.
“They had mechanical ones,” Orr said. “They had little mechanical things that would flap around.”
By today's standards, the birds in the film are not very realistic, but in 1963, the graphics were considered revolutionary. If you ask Orr, all she remembers is how exhausting it was to film.
“We did five days running down that hill in Bodega, then five days running down the hill in Bodega Bay," Orr said.
Alfred Hitchcock liked the scenery in both Bodega and Bodega Bay, so with some movie magic, he made two towns into one. When filming was done for the day, the cast and crew all met for lunch at the Casino Bar & Grill, which just so happens to be owned by Orr’s aunt, Evelyn Casini.
According to Casini, Hitchcock was a very particular and peculiar man. He had his meals specially prepared, he kept to himself and didn’t like to be bothered, but despite his oddities, she believes Hitchcock’s movie was the best thing to happen to their once sleepy town.
“He brought us into the world and we exploded, or whatever you want to call it,” Casini said.
Tourists flocked to Bodega and Bodega Bay after the movie released. Local journalist Andrea Granahan has interviewed just about everyone in town who was involved with the filming of "The Birds" and says some of the most memorable moments revolve around Hitchcock and the old Potter Schoolhouse.
“He used to allow the people to watch him doing everything, but as long as when he yelled 'action,' they would duck below their windows,” Granahan said.
She also likes to reveal little-known secrets about the film.
“They found where they could get the good closeups of birds coming at you was in the San Francisco dump,” Granahan said.
Nearly 60 years after the filming of "The Birds," tourists still flock to Bodega and Bodega Bay. You can take a driving tour of the film locations, and if you are lucky, you might get the chance to take a selfie with some of the local stars that still live here.
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