The BFI Film Classics series has been, to put it mildly, very uneven. Camille Paglia, as you might expect, at least makes this reading of Hitchcock’s movie snappy, even if (just as predictably) it basically turns into another chapter of Sexual Personae. Sometimes balloons are just balloons, and not “mammary and phallic fruits.” Also annoying after a while is the relentless shoe-horning of other cultural references into the discussion. One has the sense Paglia is just showing off. The scene where Melanie is attacked by the birds in the attic actually inspires two references, neither persuasive, to paintings by Picasso, as well as likening Melanie to Patty Hearst (because, apparently, Melanie is like someone who has been kidnapped and locked in a closet by “predators”). The only thing that saves it all from merely being clever is Paglia’s unabashed fandom and girl crush on Tippi Hedren.