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The rumors surrounding Marnie - the last in an amazing run of truly great
Hitchcock movies that lasted from 1950-1964 - are plentiful. All of them
consist of director Alfred Hitchcock's growing obsession for Tippi Hedrin
(who starred in The Birds one year earlier). By the end of the movie,
Hitchcock would not talk to Hedrin or even refer to her by name (this
following a supposed failed pass at Hedrin), and his friends say Marnie was
the last movie Hitchcock truly cared about.
Regardless of the rumors, Marnie was a box-office failure and went unnoticed until recently when DVD brought back Hitchcock's unremarkable films, along with his classics. And behold, from the ashes ariseth... Marnie.
Starring Hedrin as Marnie and Sean Connery as the man who falls in love with her, this movie tells of a compulsive thief and pathalogical liar who is caught by Connery and blackmailed into marrying him. Connery finds that Hedrin has incredible fears of red and thunderstorms, refuses to let men touch her and has disturbing dreams brought on by knocks at her door. Connery must play the dual role of keeping Marnie away from the police while trying to find out why she does what she does.
This is indeed an excellent Hitchcock film. He reminds the audience that he did start out directing silent movies, and uses this silence very well in the robbery/cleaning lady scene. The moments leading up to Marnie's revealing flashback are incredible, and the movie reeks of typical Hitchcock: slow, methodic pacing to a brilliant and stunning climax.
Marnie is not a patented "Hitchcock classic": The fades-to-red have not aged well (if they ever did look good), the horse-riding scenes just don't work, and the backgrounds are obviously fake (although it has been speculated that Hitchcock did this on purpose -- whatever the case he later regretted it). But the basic premise, the acting, the directing are all top notch and have turned Marnie into another of the "Underrated Hitchcock"s.
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.
When Marnie was first released it was (quite unfairly) dismissed by
critics. It has since been come to be known as one of Hitchcock's great
films though. Tippi Hedren stars as Marnie. She is a liar and a thief.
She has stolen large amounts of money from her employers on various
occasions. Things start to change as she begins to work for the dashing
Mark Rutland though. He becomes romantically interested in her but not
wanting to get close to anybody she decides to steal the money and escape as
quickly as she can. However, Mark catches her red handed and he gives her
the choice of marrying him or being held accountable for her crimes. She
chooses to marry him but he comes to find out that she can't stand to be
touched by any man. He realizes that she has a deep seated problem from her
past and that he must now help her to confront this. Marnie is a wonderful
film and it is very underrated. A lot of people have watched it and it has
gone over their heads therefore leading to the underrated status. It is
much the same with Tippi Hedren's performance. Even though it is
brilliant alot of people cannot see how wonderful it really is. Sean
Connery is also very good.
It is really too bad that some people can't see Marnie for the masterpiece that it is. It's really quite pointless to call Marnie a "flawed" film as well. If Marnie is truly watched intelligently you will see that this is not the case. Marnie deserves far more credit than it gets. If you watch it I hope that you enjoy it as much as I have.
5 stars / 5 stars
Marnie is a misunderstood masterpiece from the Hitchcock. Often cited as an
example of a messy, flawed genius - it can be off putting to some since its
quite talky. However stick with it and you will be intrigued and itching to
discover all about Marnie (contrary to what most say, played with
understated brilliance from Tippi Hedren).
The direction and cinematography is exceptional with Hitchcock and his usual crew i.e. Rob Burks etc on form. The atmosphere generated (apart from being 'Hitchcocky') is unique, dark, gloomy and at times akin to a horror film, yet it is utterly appealing and compelling. Theres an almost creepy, artificial humanless feel to proceedings as a result of the direction and how the actors have been directed to act as is briefly highlighted by a Hitchcock scholar in the documentary on the disk. Hitchcock knows the art of cinema, no flashy fast cuts or fast moving camera's as we see nowadays, but measured, inspired direction laced with flourishes of creative genius (thats Hithcock for you). Atmosphere, emotion is built up like poetry. Witness for example some moments of genius such as the final revelation, in what is one of Hitchcocks most underrated, powerful and shocking pieces of direction; the riding sequence which culminates in Marnies fantastic yet disturbing line of dialogue, " there there....", and also sinister momnets such as when Marnies mother wakes here from her nightmare- her voice disturbingly artificial in its lack of emotion and empathy for a clearly distraught Marnie.
Speaking of the mother, Louise Latham -the actress behind the role effortlessly steals the show from an already superb Hedren and Connery. Latham eleicits an absolutely breathtaking performance. Her character is frighteningly creepy, tragic, powerful and marvellously played to keep up the suspense and intrigue. You don't know what to make of the character except of the fact she knows or has played a part in Marnies psychological condition. In fact I would go as far as to say it is one of the greatest performances in a Hitchcock picture - an example of genius casting. Similarly her character is arguably the greatest 'mother' character in any Hitchcock film beating Pyscho and Notorious' madame Sebastion.
Marnie is a truly great picture and definetly Hitchcocks last great although Frenzy is a nice enough distraction. Not as good as Vertigo or Rear Window but certainly up there in the higher echelons of Hitchcocks work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Much more so than VERTIGO, which,even though it deals with one man's
neurosis, is a classic "whodunit". Jimmy Stewart's coming to grips with his
fear of heights at the end of VERTIGO is merely an icing of suspense on an
otherwise well baked murder mystery. In MARNIE, on the other hand,
Hitchcock deals with the deeper, darker side of Marnie's psycho-sexual
illness. Mark Rutland's (Sean Connery)constant probing into Marnie's (Tippi
Hedren) persona takes on the role of psychotherapy complete with word
association games and sound cues that shake Marnie's subconscious. In one
scene Rutland is even seen reading "Psycho-sexual Behavior in the Criminal
Mind." Strange night-time reading material for a handsome, newly married
businessman of a certain wealth. In the end, there is a complete
pyscho-catharsis as Marnie remembers the traumatic night when as a child she
killed the sailor (Bruce Dern), thus unleashing a lifetime of criminal
Hitchcock's direction is masterful in its depth of portrayal of Freud's "Interpretation of Dreams." The scene in which Marnie experiences a nightmare at the Rutland manse is a perfect example. As the dream begins, the set is that of her mother's house during a stormy night when her mother's clients came rapping on the door. Marnie awakens, however, in the plush bedroom of the Rutland residence. Hitchcock's camera takes us into the criminal unconscious and then exits into an opulent, satin covered reality gone psychotic. This insight helps us to see the troubled Marnie in a sympathetic light. Hedren's awesome acting talent underscores this as at times she emotes a little lost child persona. This is very true to character since emotionally, Marnie's development stopped that night when as a child attempted to save her mother.
From the beginning of the film, Hedren's portrayal of Marnie is pregnant with a little girl's search for maternal love and approval. At the end of the film, Rutland's explanation of Marnie's life of theft as the compensatory behavior of an unloved child is simplistic and amateurish from a psychiatric viewpoint. However, it works for the audience Hitchcock is trying to touch, and it is reminiscent of the doctor's pedantic and sophomoric review of Norman's psychosis in PSYCHO, a horror film rife with simplistic freudian interpretation. On a deeper level, Hitchcock takes us on a journey through one woman's Electra Complex as Marnie's euthanasia of a horse with a broken leg symbolically foreshadows the final scene in which Marnie's new-found memory of the horrible night serves to "kill" her psychotic ties to her mother's past. Now in the paternal yet comforting arms of her husband, Mark, Marnie's life as a grown woman is sure to take a turn for the better. Her fears of going to prison are the only vestige to a child's traumatic past.
I think this just about proves that Sean Connery is an excellent actor
outside Bond. At the time when Marnie was released, it recieved bad
Why is a mystery to me. This film has everything you want in a film, and it
also possesses that remarkable interest and captivating nature that you
associate with a Hitchcock film. Again, the performance of Tippi Hedren was
excellent, despite her ongoing row with Mr Hitchcock. The story is both
believable and suspending. Alfred Hitchcock is "The Master of Suspense".
If you are a Hitchcock fan or not, you must watch this. This proves to be one of the best of the Hitchcock Collection.
I award this film 10/10. I love it and so will you.
Add me to the group of viewers who like this film. Yes, it is long and
heavy on dialog, but visually stunning, and Bernard Herrmann's music is
rich and vibrant. The best score he has ever composed.
For me, I have favorite scenes in the movie, for example the opening shot of a woman carrying a yellow purse. From there we go to her hotel room and watch as she transforms herself into another person. Old clothes get discarded in a train locker and the key gently kicked down a grate. All of this is done with no words, but wonderful camera angles, and accompanied by a great musical score.
The office scene where Marnie waits in the women's room before robbing the safe. You only hear the voices of her co-workers saying good night for the weekend. Again, this entire scene is done visually, only this time with a split screen showing Marnie and the cleaning lady simultaneously, as if we are watching a play. Only when the shoe falls from her coat pocket do we know that the cleaning woman is hard of hearing and the scene is now concluded.
There are several vignettes such as these that make the movie interesting. Yes, the riding scenes are fake looking, and I think it was just a case where Alfred just didn't quite keep up with technology. But when you think of Marnie, this is the last, true Alfred Hitchcock movie we will ever see. From then on, we never again see a grand production with high production values as we have here.
Yes it has flaws, and the acting may not be up to par at times, but there are worthwhile aspects that make this movie a classic in the Hitchcock canon.
The childhood roots of Marnie's problem were certainly the fulcrum of
the plot; but they were also a vital strand in her character, the main
force of her motivation
Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is a psychologically scarred gray-suited serial thief who would take a job in an office, win liking and trust by her good looks, manners and work; then steal the safe and move to another part of the country, changing her look, her name, and her identity
This what she does when she went to work for Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), a wealthy sadist businessman; but he replaced the stolen money, tracked her down, and blackmailed her with two alternatives: to go to jail or to marry him
Only, besides Marnie's traumas and aftermaths, she was cool, desperately detached, and couldn't find in herself any affection for any living thing except fondness for horses Sexually, she was extremely cold, and her marriage was not consummated... And she was continually afraid of thunderstorms and couldn't handle the red color
I don't want to spoil some of other brilliant little touches, but Marnie had always said she was an orphan, and Mark tracked down her icy mother (Louise Latham), and brought the two face to face There was a beautifully acted scene here when the two met up again and Bernice who even now could show no more affection to her daughter than Marnie could to her husband
This is not the stuff that director Hitchcock is usually attracted to.
Hitchcock was scared of jails. In this film, the lead female character
prefers to be bridled by marriage rather than jail. It is an intriguing
choice for a character who had earlier stated to her husband "You don't
love me. I am something you have caught. Some kind of wild animal you
have trapped." Aware of this, the young lady who has so far fooled a
lot of rich men and escaped the law, prefers marriage to jail. She is
smart, a woman who embezzles her employers to buy rich gifts for her
mother, aware of modesty in dress (keeps pulling her skirt over her
knees) and a convincing liar. Like "Notorious," the marriage is one of
convenience, or so it appearsthe end of the film is open-ended.
For those who are not aware of it, Hitchcock fired the initial scriptwriter (a male), who honestly felt the rape of the wife by the husband was out character with male lead played by Sean Connery. The replaced scriptwriter (a lady) wrote the sequence which was used, in a suggestive way rather than a graphic way. Hitchcock loved to slip in sex even if it was out of character. Lesbianism is suggested by the husband's sister-in-law's remark "What a dish!" a remark one would associate from the opposite sex. (Hitchcock similarly played with homosexuality in "Rope"). A critical scene that could be mistaken for child molestation was probably an innocent gesture mistaken by the mother.
Hitchcock usually was attentive to visuals and sound. This is an unusual film where the director swings from one extreme of high sophistication to absolute stupidity. The opening shots of the woman walking away with the yellow handbag are stunning. The silent "cleaning" of the office safe, while a deaf woman cleans the office is simply outstanding. Yet the crass painting of a dock near Marnie's mother's house would make a school kid laugh out loud. Why would a woman who is scared of red wear red lipstick or not react when her husband's sister-in-law wears red at a party? Similarly, the shot of Marnie's hand not being able to pick up the money in the safe is an unconvincing shot, if ever there was one.
The film can be appreciated and be equally dismissed. The acting by all the main characters was good but Louise Latham performance (and make up!) needs to be singled out for praise. Kubrick seems to have copied Hitchcock's Marie's voice differentiation in the young child's voice in "The Shining." I am not surprised if people swing from liking the film to dismissing it and back again. It has great elements and bad elements as wellyet the bottom line is, it entertains!
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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