A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
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 »
During the storm scene, Mark leads Marnie to sit on the sofa. For a moment, you can see Mark's lips moving but you can't hear what he is saying. 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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Far and away my favourite Hitch and in my top five movies of all time (yes, I'm very biased but there you go), "Marnie" stands out as one of the most deliciously bitter, malevolent and sardonic "romance" stories ever made, and it doesn't surprise me in the least that it is either sworn by or passionately hated by general public. It is, however, no less influential than any of the acclaimed and widely loved films that Hitch made previously. Even the staunchest of Hitchcock's fans seem to be bitterly divided over this one though, some among them simply not being able to forgive him for being so direct and blatant in choice and treatment of his subject matter (let alone technical inadequacies) - and for delivering a slow, sombre, pain ridden and malignant psychosexual drama, whereas others, myself included, revel in those very aspects of the film. Hedren and Connery's singular coupling on screen and their performances have also been subject to much heated debate - in my opinion they're both excellent, in that they very successfully portray genuinely unlovable characters and play off one another almost instinctively and to great effect, helped by a phenomenally sarcastic dialogue and more than memorable quips ("The idea was to kill myself, not to feed the damned fish", as well as the entire "You Freud, me Jane" sequence). Delightful.
Hedren is adequately surly, bitter, spiteful, troubled and fragile all at the same time, her average acting talents and icy beauty working for the film rather than against it, whereas Connery is nothing short of a perverse yet suave male filthy pig dying to get in between her treasured legs and "take legal possession" for precisely those reasons. Unsurprisingly, the chapter in acclaimed Truffaut's book of interviews with Hitch that belongs to "Marnie" is subtitled "Un Amour Fetishiste"
read it. It's interesting that Hitchcock had troubles with his
leading ladies in some of his best films - his disdain of Kim Novak and endless arguments he had with her on set are all well documented, in addition to his falling out with Hedren halfway through "Marnie". Both films are laced with moments of electrifying energy maybe just for that reason, and both women look spectacular on screen. In any case, it's perfect casting for both leads in this one, in addition to a brilliant support led by Latham and Baker, not to mention Herrmann's emotional score, which so assuredly bounces between hysterical, pleading, lustful, torturous, and tragic - and back again.
Aside from directorial touches of genius (who doesn't get goosebumps when Marnie first reveals her face after washing out the hair dye) - there are undoubtedly many, many flaws and technically weak places in the film - the zooming in and out on the money in the Rutland safe is a particular standout in that respect, totally over the top and downright silly. Obviously painted backdrops and horseriding sequences have all been slagged off to death as well (altough surprisingly these don't seem to bother people that much when systematically applied in "The Birds"), but they are more than compensated for by the greyish, autumnal and trance-like feel of the film, and are very likely deliberately calculated in to greatly enhance the overall atmosphere. Hitch doesn't even try to win the viewer's affection by injecting a bit of his trademark humour in this doleful story and rightly so - it would have suffered immeasurably and would have been totally out of place. For this is a serious film about both female and male emotional and sexual hang ups (Hedren: "I'm sick?? Well take a look at yourself, old dear!!...you've got a pathological fix on a woman who's not only an admitted criminal but who screams if you come near her!!" - Connery: "Well I never said I was perfect") - "un grand film malade", as Truffaut affectionately put it - therefore no humour, apart from the bitterest variety, no happy ending, no sympathetic characters we can identify with, nothing. But the manner in which the film ends - the car departing, exiting from screen where previously we saw no street, road or way out - gives a flicker of hope that Marnie will eventually, with or without Mark, be able to find her peace. You can either love or despise the symbolism - it's entirely left to you.
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