Hitchcock in his time was regarded as a master maker of entertainment; because of this, none of his films was considered as serious, worthy of awards. The implication was that, with the Hitchcock name, you were in for a diverting treat.
When it was released, in 1963, Hitch was focusing more and more on trying to create successful films. Though now it's considered by many as the greatest film ever made, "Vertigo" was a tremendous flop in its original release, in 1958. "North by Northwest" (1959) and "Psycho" (1960) were both hits, and so was "The Birds," especially with my teen-aged contemporaries. The ad campaign, "The Birds is coming!" deliberately tweaked pundits, much in the same way as the earlier cigarette ad, "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should!" did. Hitch was smart, because he was teasing people into awareness of his movie. And the violence it showed, particularly the dead farmer, was very graphic for its day.
Jessica Tandy was no stranger to films, having done a lot of supporting roles in the 40's, in such films as "The Valley of Decision" (1945), "Dragonwyck" (1946), "Forever Amber" (1947), "A Woman's Vengeance" (1948), and "The Desert Fox" (1951), among many others. During that time, she went back to the stage, where she excelled as the original Blanche in "Streetcar," and began a lifelong series of productions with husband Hume Cronyn. (I once met them, backstage, after a performance of "A Delicate Balance," and Mr. Cronyn seemed much more solicitous of Ms. Tandy, which at the time I considered quite gallant. He always seemed to sublimate his career to hers.)
As for Rod Taylor, take this item as you will: Years ago, when I was closeted and married to a woman, living in New York, I, like many of my closeted contemporaries, used to go to the baths during the day. Once I met a man at the old Club Baths, on First Ave. near Houston St. Hot fireplug of a man, who worked as a Long Island State patrolman. We had great fun. For some reason, at one point, I mentioned Rod Taylor. (I'd had a terrific crush on him in my teens; even joined his fan club, me and 487 middle-aged women. I still have autographed photos from him.) Anyway, my companion told me he had tried to be a model in L.A. in the early 60's, where he had met Taylor at a cocktail party, and the two of them had become fuck buddies for about a year. I wasn't surprised, and have since seen Taylor's name on various lists of gay actors.
Taylor did play many supporting roles before his breakthrough films, "The Time Machine" and "The Birds," but his type of the brawny, heroic muscular man was becoming outdated in the secret-agent craze of the early 60's, as well as the change in emphasis to anti-heroes. It seemed that Taylor's type was outmoded just around the same time as his star began to ascend. He also had an unfortunate break with what was supposed to be his major role, in "Young Cassidy" (1965), which started shooting under the direction of John Ford, but Ford dropped out, and the film was completed by Jack Cardiff, who later directed Taylor in "Dark of the Sun." Had Ford finished "Cassidy," Taylor might have had a better reception by critics, but the film got mostly so-so reviews, and kind of lackluster box-office, even though it certainly boosted the careers of his two female co-stars: Julie Christie and Maggie Smith.
But, Ford or not, I doubt Taylor would have gone on to much more than what he did later. He was good at both action and comedy, and even had a poetic air now and then. He played Jackie's father, Black Jack Bouvier, in a TV bio film, and had a real wistfulness, perhaps because the character was more true for him, an alcoholic man who wasted too much potential. Years later, when he played Churchill, in Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds," the New York Times film critic described him as "unrecognizable," he looked so overweight, bald, and dissipated.
Oh well. Even in his 80's I'd still have done him. It's the romance of the thing....