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The musical score by Bernard Herrmann is memorable and is one of the strong points of the movie. The score is one of the best of all the Hitchcock movies, in my opinion (my other candidates are Vertigo and Psycho). There are some suspenseful moments. The special effects and some of the sets are pretty simple and low tech, but this doesn't detract from the film at all, in my opinion.
The acting is excellent. Sean Connery was excellent. It was great to see Alan Napier in the movie. I thought 'Tippi' Hedren's performance was outstanding. Her acting in The Birds (1963) was great, but she takes things to another level in Marnie. Originally, Hitchcock wanted to cast Grace Kelly in the role of Marnie, but she had to turn it down. I think 'Tippi' Hedren was the perfect actress for the part, and she delivered. I also like Diane Baker in this movie. I have a weakness for movies with good looking women in them.
This movie did poorly at the box office when it was released, probably because audiences were used to getting movies that were less personal, less psychological, and more suspenseful from Hitchcock each time, and Marnie was a departure from that. However, this movie's stature has grown immensely since 1964. As for myself, this is one of those rare movies that drew me in right from the start and kept my attention, but multiple viewings might be required in order for one to fully understand and appreciate it for what it is.
The DVD's extras include a documentary called The Trouble With Marnie, which basically is about the making of the movie and the movie's historical status, a picture gallery called The Marnie Archives, and the theatrical trailer.
Overall, this is a good Hitchcock flick if you're into this type of movie, whatever it's classified as (Hitchcock called it a sex mystery).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
The movie opens with a lady walking away from the camera, clutching a yellow purse, and heading for the train platform. At the same time, her employer Mr. Strutt was lamenting the missing money (almost $10,000) from the company safe. Tippi Hedren stars as Marnie Edgar/Margaret Edgar/Peggy Nicholson/Mary Taylor, a 30-something single lady who seems to have made a career of ripping off her employer then disappearing under a new name and, in most cases, a new look.
Quite accidentally, she next applies for a job with the Rutland company in Philadelphia. Sean Connery is the boss, Mark Rutland, and thinks he recognizes her from his visits with his client, Mr. Strutt. Educated as a Zoologist before he took over the family business, his area of interest was 'animal behavior', which included the human animal, and took an interest in this lady mainly out of curiosity. Diane Baker is Mark's sister Lil, who is suspicious of Marnie from the beginning, and does a bit of sleuthing on her own.
It is clear that Marnie has some big issues from childhood. She tells everyone that she has no family, but sends money back to her mother in Baltimore. When she visits mom will not show any affection, Marnie doesn't understand. Nor does she understand why she is afraid of storms, and especially the color red. Mark falls in love with her very quickly, intent on protecting her and helping her.
MAJOR SPOILERS. As soon as Marnie gets her first opportunity, she steals the code for the Rutland safe, and steals the money. Mark was already suspicious, finds and confronts her, but offers to make restitution himself. When he finds out about the Strutt theft, he covers that one also. He offers to either marry Marnie, or turn her into the police, because he can't just turn a criminal out on the street. With unimaginable patience, he sticks with Marnie, has an investigator look up the mother and her story. Turns out mom was a hooker, catering to sailors on leave in Virginia, one of them (a young Bruce Dern) begins to molest young Marnie by kissing her neck, mom gets angry, the sailor falls on her, little Marnie beats and kills him with a fireplace poker. The red blood scarred her for life, now that she knew her back story, she and Mark have a chance to live happily ever after.
This unsung and really criticized movie at the time of its release contains thrills , tension , suspense , psychoanalysis , romance, unlimited excitement and plenty of plot twists , as usual in Hitchock films . An exceptional Hitchcock film dealing with an exciting intrigue blended with sexual and Freudian theories . Besides , it has a literately witty dialog with distinctive Hitch's touches and writing credits by Jay Presson Allen . Nice acting by the great Sean Connery as current boss who catches Marnie in the theft act and forces her to marry him , though he soon learns the puzzling aspects of Marnie's background . Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Jay Presson Allen were allowed to see scenes from Agent 007 and doctor No (1962) when considering Sean Connery for the role of Mark . They liked his charismatic performance so much that they decided to offer him the role even though the obviously Scottish actor did not really fit with their conception of Mark as an "American aristocrat." Tippi Hedren is pretty well as confuse amnesic thief who robs her employers and then changes her identity . Alfred Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren had a major falling-out during the filming and there was a rumor that by the end he directed her through intermediaries . Although Hedren admits the she and Hitchcock's friendship ended during shooting, she denies the rumor that he didn't finish directing the film . Despite the troubles which reportedly took place on set , Tippi Hedren has stated that this is her favorite movie which she has appeared in . Alfred Hitchcock wanted Grace Kelly to make her screen comeback in the title role, but the people of Monaco were not happy with the idea of their princess playing a compulsive thief . Good secondary cast such as Diane Baker as his scheming sister-in-law , Martin Gabel , the tall Alan Napier and Louise Latham, who played Tippi Hedren's mother is in reality only 8 years older. Look for in small characters , almost cameos , to Bruce Dern , Kimberly Beck , Meredith Scott Thomas , Linden Chiles and Mariette Hartley . And , of course , Alfred Hitchcock cameo : Five minutes into the film, in the hotel corridor as Marnie walks by . Colorful as well as glamorous cinematography by Robert Burks , Hitch's habitual . Rousing and intriguing original music by the great Bernard Herrmann , though it was Bernard Herrmann's last score for a Hitchcock film .
Rating : Better than average . Panned at the time of its release and was deemed a misfire ; despite the poor reviews, Marnie turned out to be a moderate box office success for Universal , it grossed $7 million in theatres on a budget of $3 million . The film has since been accepted as an Alfred Hitchcock classic , though resulting to be overlong and confusing as well . Essential and indispensable seeing for Hitch buffs .
Upon release, "Marnie" was criticised for being "melodramatic", "unrealistic" and "fake looking". Expressionism was on the way out and audiences were beginning to gravitate toward the literalism of new Hollywood, which was cash rich and busy absorbing European neorealist movements. With the toppling of various codes and strictures, Western films also began to develop a certain explicitness; everything could be shown, and so should be. The hidden was out, the mystery was gone. In came an obsession with the verbatim and the prosaic, everything rendered directly and vulgarly with the explicitness of cash. What you see is what you get.
But "Marnie" was rooted firmly in turn-of-the-century German Expressionism. The film was proudly retro, its plot consisting of a series of dreams within dreams (characters are constantly "waking up"), all told with big, lurid images and Bernard Herrmann's pounding score. And as with the best of Hitchcock, "Marnie" had a voluptuous quality, Hitchcock's colours luminous, his matte paintings proudly artificial, every shot injected with a certain grandeur. Audiences hated it. Hitchcock was having a blast. The film's packed to the brim with phallic trains, symbolic orgasms, roiling waves, vaginal handbags, looming men, huge painted boats (symbollically dwarfing the childhood home in which sailors abused Marnie's mom) and virile horses. Sex is everywhere.
Whilst typically thought of as another one of Hitchcock's "mommy pictures", "Marnie" is as much about fathers and sons as it is about mothers and daughters. Mark's family is structured around the ghostly memory/reverence of a lost son/brother, and whilst Marnie is fatherless and sibling-less, Mark adores daddy and has his own complementary and oppositional deficiencies; he's neurotic, she psychotic, she runs, he interferes, she denies, he controls. Much of the film then watches as Mark turns into a quasi psychologist, determined to pick apart Marnie's fragile psyche in an effort to determine why she's unstable, frigid and kleptomaniacal.
But is Mark a good guy or is he, to be blunt, a rapist? Mark originally wanted to be a zoologist, and displays no emotion other than intellectual curiosity. He sees Marnie as but a specimen to be examined. An insect to be kept. Elsewhere his home library is filled with old-fashioned and misogynistic titles ("Sexual Aberrations of the Female Criminal" etc). Detached and almost apathetic, Mark seems to desire only to keep Marnie close, to possess her, his tight control over Marnie's life and psyche bordering on the abusive. Couple this with the fact that Mark refuses to talk about his ex-wife (what happened to her?) and has effectively seduced his sister in law (reducing her to a sex-starved teenager and loyal lapdog) and you have a very strange character. Though at times compassionate, Mark's mostly a paternalistic overlord who uses literal rape, and psychoanalysis as a kind of invasive meta-rape, on Marnie. Even when he helps her, Mark implicates Marnie and places the blame firmly on women. This of course echoes Hitchcock's reported treatment of Tippi Hedren ("He was a misogynist; not doubt about it" she says in interviews), his attempts to control her, possess her and destroy her career.
Late in the film Marnie and Mark have a confrontation on an ocean liner, the gigantic vessel reminding Marnie of her mother's clients (sailors) and the ships parked, like monsters, outside her home. Marnie wants to be left alone, but the couple have sex instead and Hitchcock stages the event as a rape. The audience is initially with Mark and positioned to believe that a little "manhandling", a little "sexual healing", is all Marnie needed (Mark even uses condescendingly sexist phrases like "boning up on" etc). The idea that frigid women simply need a little rough sex is of course resolutely sexist (the old, sexist notion that if "she" refuses to have sex then something is clinically wrong with "her"). But we don't realise this until poor Marnie attempts to commit suicide immediately afterwards. Even then Mark sees nothing wrong with his actions.
What's problematic is this: whilst admitting that this is an act of rape, Hitchcock goes on to rationalise the act from Mark's perspective. Then, in his final sequence, shot with a strange lens so as to distort Marnie's childhood bedroom, thereby capturing her disjointed, fragmented psyche, Marnie becomes "normal" and "cured", and by extension now available to Mark. Hitchcock's films frequently collide male sexual desire with the denial of female agency and identity ("Vertigo", "Man Who Knew Too Much", "Notorious" etc), but here Mark is seemingly absolved, shifts the blame for Marnie's frigidity onto her mother and positions himself as a white knight. The film's faith in its lead couple then goes uncontested. Or does it? Hitchcock closing moments hint that Marnie's newfound relationship will be "like jail", and a symbolic shot of a basketball recalls a tale by Marnie mother, in which she explains that women give their bodies only in an attempt to get things from men. In Marnie's case, she's stuck with Mark because the alternative is prison, their relationship still founded on blackmail and an abuse of power.
8.5/10 – Masterpiece.
Sean Connery plays Alan, who figures out that Marnie had robbed his company, among others. So he tracks her down. Falling in love with Marnie after he catches her, Alan wants to persuade Marnie to marry him. Marnie just wants Alan to let her go. But Alan wants to protect Marnie, so he offers Marnie a quickie marriage, or the alternative of being turned over to the law.
Tippi Hedrin is wonderful in her role as the neurotic, larcenous Marnie. Sean Connery is impeccably suave and smoothly handsome, as Alan. Both have an antagonistic on-screen chemistry between them, that keeps the viewer intrigued. Marnie is one of Hitcock's better psychological thrillers, from the 60s. It's well worth your time, and it's now available on DVD.
Marnie's obtains a job with a large publishing company and attracts the attention of Mark Rutland, the head of the firm. Mark falls in love with his beautiful employee, and when he catches her stealing from the company blackmails her into marrying him instead of reporting her to the police. Unsurprisingly, the marriage proves a disaster, and Marnie attempts suicide on their honeymoon. Mark realises that the only way to save his marriage, and possibly Marnie's life, is to unlock the dark secret buried in her past which is the cause of her psychological problems.
When the film was released in 1964 it was not a success at the box-office. Perhaps audiences of the day were put off by its frequently dark and challenging subject-matter, touching on such matters as frigidity, child molestation and marital rape. (The rape scene is omitted in some versions of the film). Some have seen a possible lesbian sub-text in the uneasy relationship between Marnie and Mark's sister-in-law Lil, although my interpretation would be that Lil is in love with Mark herself and that her feelings towards Marnie are ones of sexual jealousy rather than sexual desire.
Audiences might also have felt that "Marnie" is not what they had come to expect from Alfred Hitchcock. Certainly, he had a deep interest in psychology and psychiatry, evident in films such as "Spellbound" and "Psycho" (and also, to some extent, "Notorious", "Strangers on a Train" and others). "Marnie", however, is his most purely "psychological" thriller. The other films I mention are also physical thrillers with classic Hitchcock thriller plots, either "man-wrongly-accused" in "Spellbound" and "Strangers on a Train" or "woman-in-peril" in "Psycho" and "Notorious". "Marnie", on the other hand, is more heavily weighted in favour of psychological analysis, with little by way of physical suspense; there is, for example, no equivalent of the shower scene in "Psycho". (The closest is possibly the scene where Marnie, carrying out a robbery, is threatened with discovery by the cleaner).
What the film lacks in physical excitement, however, it makes up for in psychological depth. Tippi Hedren was perhaps an unlikely film star. She rose to fame as a fashion model in the 1950s, but had no acting experience apart from an uncredited, non-speaking role in one film, when, in her thirties, she was "discovered" by Hitchcock and offered a part in "The Birds", largely on the strength of her physical resemblance to some of his other muses such as Grace Kelly and Eva Marie Saint. (Kelly wanted to use "Marnie" as the vehicle for her return to the big screen following her marriage, until she discovered that her husband's subjects did not wish to see their Princess impersonating a mentally disturbed kleptomaniac).
This was the second of the two films Hedren made with Hitchcock, and she is excellent, better than in "The Birds". To portray a beautiful, elegant, smartly-dressed woman, which is how Marnie appears in the early scenes, would not have been too difficult for a professional model, but the ability to portray the deeply disturbed girl of the later ones clearly called for acting skills of a higher order. Hedren's performance here should be avidly studied by all those modern supermodels (far too many to single out by name) who assume that acting and the ability to sashay down a catwalk are one and the same thing. Sean Connery sounds too Scottish to be entirely convincing as the American Mark, but there is another first-class contribution from Louise Latham as Marnie's mother Bernice. (Domineering or over-protective mothers often appear in Hitchcock's psychological thrillers).
Another point of interest is Hitchcock's use of colour. He anticipates Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" in giving symbolic importance to the colour red, but whereas Roeg's film featured a bright red object in virtually every scene Hitchcock uses the colour very sparingly. Instead, most scenes are dominated by the complementary colour, green. There is some attractive photography of the verdant Maryland countryside- Winston Graham's novel was set in England, but Hitchcock relocates the action to the area around Baltimore- and most scenes include a prominent green object. When something red appears, it does so at crucial points in the plot connected with Marnie's phobias. There is also an striking musical score from Bernard Herrmann, his last for a Hitchcock film. (He did compose one for "Torn Curtain", but the director disliked it and it was never used).
"Marnie" is not normally regarded as one of the great Hitchcock classics, and until recently I would have agreed that it is not one of his best works, perhaps on a par with something like "Under Capricorn" or "Topaz". Having now seen it again, however, I am prepared to revise my opinion. Certainly, some of the criticisms made of it are justified; some of the scenes are too lengthy and dominated by endless conversations, and there is some very unconvincing use made of devices such as obvious matte paintings and back projection. (At one point when Mark and Marnie are travelling in a car, it appears to be summer on one side of the road and autumn on the other). It is, however, one of Hitchcock's profoundest analyses of human nature, exposing the dark depths which can lie beneath a calm, tranquil surface. 8/10
Marnie says it's a trap, and it is, but what makes this film particularly disturbing is that apparently Sean Connery's Mark is a hero or something. Using only the worst in Freudian psychobabble and a large desire to get into Marnie's skirt, Mark leads her through traumatizing confrontation and traumatizing confrontation until she finally comes to terms with her own repressed memories... which is, apparently, enough to make her love him and go home to him like the happy little housewife she should be.
Because see, apparently Marnie being a criminal is completely a result of her weakness and inability to cope with her mother's history, which is in turn necessary for a MAN to figure out. And even though she does not love this man (she never does, at any point in this movie, reveal such a love), his saving her is what is required to have her want to go back home with him. It's disturbing, but not in the good disturbing way like with movies like Requiem for a Dream that are supposed to disturb you away from certain choices, or disturbing like Apocalypse Now which is supposed to paint a gratuitous anti-war picture. It's disturbing because throughout the movie you keep asking yourself, "Is Hitchcock really gonna do that?" and yes, yes he does. Hitchcock has decided to fully reveal his misogynism.
Even beyond that, this movie fails on several levels. Hitchcock uses two effects that are entirely contradictory: her fear of red, which is represented in much the same way as the psychosis in Vertigo, and the heavy use of red on the set to represent masculinity like he does in many of his films. But, uh, Hitch: if she's afraid of red so that she literally wigs out over a small amount of spilt red on her blouse, why is she not going into seizures surrounded by all the red in Mark's house? Oh, and, uh, why is she wearing red lipstick? Only one moment with the violent reaction to red actually works anyway, and that's the one where she spills the ink because it actually looks like blood, which makes sense. The rest of it is contrived and unbelievable.
And speaking of unbelievable, the entire relationship seems completely impossible. How a meeting of two characters like the ones portrayed could ever result in an eventual mutuality is beyond me. It's not just bad chemistry of the actors, it's bad writing. The only character in this movie that seems remotely sympathetic is Lil, and even she is just a deranged Freudian antihero.
No, this movie is just terrible. I've had issues with Hitchcock's works before, but usually I've been able to find them at least technically acute and entertaining. This movie is proof that the Master wasn't always on his top form.
The acting from the entire cast was flawless. Tippi Hedren was still very young and new to acting, but perfect for this role, a more experienced actress might have tried to bring too much to what should be a rather stiff character. Laura Latham as Marnie's mother gave a stunning, raw performance. Sean Connery, without the self-importance of his Bond character was more charming, attractive and believable than I've ever seen him in any role. This is a unique, fascinating film.
MARNIE also showed that Hitchcock was losing touch with the times. The film has an odd quaint feel to it even though its subject is anything but quaint. Even if he created two modern masterpieces of horror just before this film, with PSYCHO and THE BIRDS, Hitchcock's style and themes didn't transition well with the changes of the 1960s and MARNIE was the first of a series of misfires Hitch made in that era. Released in 1964, MARNIE feels like it was made in the mid-1950s.
Every time I watch MARNIE, I always try to figure out how the audience reacted to this bizarre rape fantasy flick. I say bizarre because the whole film has several incongruous elements that clash constantly and yet it's shown almost as being "normal": case in point, the music score. It's swirling with romanticism even though what we see on screen is unpleasant, to say the least. Hitchcock came up with the term "McGuffin" to explain something unimportant in the story that's merely a plot device for suspense or motivation for characters. In MARNIE, the title character herself, Marnie, is the McGuffin, and she's the target of every little sexual fantasy Hitchcock had vis a vis women in general. Marnie, the character, is merely a cypher. And what she's made to go through is really troubling. Not troubling as a film (technically, the film is simply too whack: bad acting, bad sets, bad stilted dialogue...) but troubling as a showcase of all the stuff Hitch kept inside of him and decided to foist upon its unsuspecting audience with this film. I can only imagine the reaction of the people who first watched this back then. I'm sure there was a lot of head scratching going on.
The story is simple enough: a beautiful female thief is caught red-handed by a handsome man who, instead of telling the police about her crimes, basically blackmails her into staying with him. If she strays, he'll spill the beans to the authorities and she'll end-up in prison. So, Marnie decides to stay with Mark and she becomes a toy for him to play with. Aside from the obvious misogynistic aspects, the story itself is filled with potential but unfortunately Hitchcock plays coy with it and gives it a romantic treatment, even though everything that occurs on screen is anything but romantic. I could go on and on about the intricate details Hitchcock peppered this story with an amazing variety of exploitive elements, all in the name of targeting Marnie with as many unpleasant acts or actions as possible (rape, blackmail, kidnapping, caught in the act, etc) but no, I won't. The story speaks for itself. Mark doesn't want to help Marnie. He gets his kicks by putting her through unpleasant situations most people wouldn't accept under any circumstances. Having the option, why would anyone stay with Mark, who's made to be shown as someone who's unfunny, mean and basically a bully? Marnie should have just gone to the police and confess her crimes. But no. In this wonky Hitchcock tale, Marnie remains with Mark, and thanks to his "help", she ends up looking like some sort of piñata, with the final revelation being the candy and prize popping out of her.
What's troubling about MARNIE is the director's lack of honesty. He should have went all the way, with Marnie accidentally cured of her problems while Mark *really* uses her for his pleasure. Now that would have been fascinating. But as I said before, Hitchcock was losing touch with how to represent a story with modern themes and as it is now, with MARNIE looking like some sort of glamorous romantic flick (imagine PILLOW TALK but with a sordid twist), well it just doesn't work at all; it doesn't work as a romantic movie, or "sexual suspense" or as a psychological thriller. It's a degrading exploitation film dressed up (badly) like a Harlequin novel.