A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.
Marnie Edgar is a habitual liar and a thief who gets jobs as a secretary and after a few months robs the firms in question, usually of several thousand dollars. When she gets a job at Rutland's, she also catches the eye of the handsome owner, Mark Rutland. He prevents her from stealing and running off, as is her usual pattern, but also forces her to marry him. Their honeymoon is a disaster and she cannot stand to have a man touch her and on their return home, Mark has a private detective look into her past. When he has the details of what happened in her childhood to make her what she is, he arranges a confrontation with her mother realizing that reliving the terrible events that occurred in her childhood and bringing out those repressed memories is the only way to save her. Written by
Screenwriter Jay Presson Allen wrote in Mark's hobby of studying animal behavior because that was her hobby and tangentially fit with Mark's later inclination to psychoanalyze Marnie. See more »
Through the porthole on the ship, the water is moving one direction, but in the next shot it is moving the opposite direction. See more »
Robbed! Cleaned out! $9,967! Precisely as I told you over the telephone. And that girl did it. Marion Holland. That's the girl. Marion Holland.
Can you describe her Mr. Strutt?
Certainly I can describe her: five-five, 110 pounds, size 8 dress, blue eyes, black wavy hair, even features, good teeth.
[detectives unable to restrain laughter]
Well what's so damn funny? There's been a grand larceny committed on these premises.
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Hitchcock's Marnie was a critical and financial failure when released in 1964. Some decades afterwards, the film was 'rediscovered' by film theorists fascinated by its engagement with issues such as Freudian psychoanalysis, sexual abuse, gender roles, trauma, sexual deviance.
The central plot revolves around Marnie, a habitual thief who goes to work for large corporations, steals from her (always male) boss, then flees - dying her hair, changing her name and then starting over again.
One employer, Mark Rutland, recognises her from one of her previous companies. When she robs him, he pursues and marries her. Playing Freud to her Jane, he alternates between trying to get her into bed and determining the link between her thefts and her fear of sex, thunder storms, the colour red and men.
Tippi Hedren is ideally suited for the role of Marnie; her trembling-but-firm voice and impassive, doll-like face give her the look and feel of a tough-yet-vulnerable child-woman, lost in a nightmare world. Sean Connery is terrific as
Rutland, and the interaction between his character and Marnie suggests (at times) a slight subversion of gender roles. She may be troubled, but she won't easily fall under his net (he likens her to a wild animal) - and will tell him!
Throughout the film, there is a brilliant use of colour, and some memorably dreamlike shots: the opening of Marnie (her face unseen) with black hair, walking as if in a daze along a railway platform and through a hotel; the hand banging against a window, alarming the sleeping Marnie; the flashback to the woman's troubled past.
Unfortunately - and other reviewers on IMDb have argued this - the film's editing is often lazy. Some scenes go on for far too long, and are way too chatty. More show and less tell, I say! There are those fake backdrops. They can be seen to suggest Marnie's detachment from the world (as Hitch once argued), but why couldn't he include them with every shot of her? Laziness, again?
Then there's Lil, the sister of Mark's dead wife. Diane Baker gives a terrific performance, and there is the suggestion that Lil's attraction to her former brother-in-law might be deceptive... it could be Marnie she's after. Just check out the look she gives Marnie when they first meet and her remark ('Who's that Dish'?) But the lesbian subtext is never explored. Lil's character is never developed beyond a woman who alternates between smiling and scowling at Marnie, and then disappearing before the dramatic 'final confession'.
Otherwise, a brave film, elegant to look at, and rich with issues for the film theorist AND the 'casual' viewer to explore.
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