MARNIE. (1964) BASED ON THE 1961 BOOK BY WINSTON GRAHAM. DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK. MUSIC BY BERNARD HERRMANN. CINEMATOGRAPHY BY ROBERT BURKS.
STARRING TIPPI HEDREN, SEAN CONNERY, LOUISE LATHAM, DIANE BAKER, BRUCE DERN, MARTIN GABEL AND MARIETTE HARTLEY.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
‘You Freud, me Jane?’
‘If you tell my Momma about me, I’ll kill you.’
‘We don’t talk smart about the Bible in this house, missy.’
‘Why don’t you love me, Momma? I’ve always wondered why you don’t.’
‘… always pulling her skirt down over her knees as if they were some sort of national treasure…!’
Ah, now this is the stuff. This has long been one of my favourite Hitchcock movies, although it never seems to receive as much attention as, say, PSYCHO or THE BIRDS. It’s every bit as good, though.
It’s a sort of psycho-sexual thriller rather than an outright horror (Hitchcock himself went to great lengths to bill it as a sex mystery, no doubt to give it some extra clout at the box-office), and I have great memories of watching it in the middle of the night during Christmases past, the usual time for the screening of old Hitchcock movies on television, both now and then.
I love the story of how Hitchcock’s first choice for the plum role of Marnie, Princess Grace of Monaco, was discouraged from taking the role by her new subjects in the principality of Monaco.
Apparently, they didn’t want their new Princess playing ‘a sexually disturbed thief’ who gets raped into the bargain. Well, I suppose that that wouldn’t have been too good for the old squeaky clean image, haha.
Some people do maintain, though, that Grace Kelly and Cary Grant would have been better choices for the roles of Marnie and her adversary/husband Mark Rutland than Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. I disagree.
Tippi Hedren was the perfect choice, and she more than justified any faith placed in her. And would Cary Grant have been able to rape his screen bride in the same shockingly decisive way that Sean Connery does it? I don’t know.
I know Cary Grant had his more serious roles- SUSPICION, for one- and I’m not for one moment implying that he was only suited to frothier, lighter, less heavyweight roles, but I just don’t see him as Mark Rutland.
Marnie Edgar is a fascinating character, probably one of Hitchcock’s most complex. Norman Bates in PSYCHO is another prime example of how the great director had a profound understanding of how a person’s childhood can basically f**k them up twelve ways till Sunday, as it were.
Norman, of course, had perfectly acceptable reasons, deeply rooted in his upbringing, for why he grew up into a mother-fixated, sexually deviant transvestite killer. In MARNIE, Hitchcock is delving once more into the end products of a messed-up childhood.
Marnie is probably a slightly more sympathetic character than Norman, though, because she’s stunningly beautiful and doesn’t actually kill anyone…! Let’s go ahead anyway and have a look at the plot of this excellent film.
Marnie is a thief and a compulsive liar and a woman who’s so afraid of men that it’s made her sexually frigid. Long story short, she ends up being unwillingly married to rich, handsome and highly eligible widower Mark Rutland, played by Sean 007 Connery.
Mark is wise to Marnie’s tricks as a kleptomaniacal con-woman with more aliases than Homer Simpson’s fugitive mother Mona in hit animated comedy THE SIMPSONS. Remember Muddy Mae Suggins?
Anyway, Mark is deeply infatuated with the gorgeously blonde Marnie and is endlessly fascinated by her seemingly screwed-up mental condition. I’ve never liked the way he ‘studies’ her as if she’s a butterfly pinned to a bit of card, even when she’s in the midst of the most terrible distress. How about actually helping her there, bud, or is that too radical…?
Fancying himself as something of an armchair psychologist, he’s determined to get to the bottom of Marnie’s terrible fear of men and, incidentally, her seeming over-reaction to the colour red. Some of his methods are highly suspect, to say the least, and could have damaged Marnie irreparably.
Forcing a woman who’s afraid of men to submit to his sexual attentions would probably have disastrous consequences in real life, but this is a film. Maybe he thought a good ride was all she needed to loosen her up a bit. Highly suspect, as I said.
I’ll never forget the time I saw Sean Connery doing a television interview in which he was asked if he ‘minded’ his character in MARNIE having to ‘rape’ the gorgeous blonde Tippi Hedren. Cue a giant cheesy grin and a slow but emphatic shake of his handsome head…! The saucy little devil.
The scenes with Marnie’s mother in Marnie’s childhood home would all make you sympathise solely with poor Marnie. Louise Latham does an excellent job of portraying the messed-up woman whose overwhelming fear of her daughter growing up slutty actually turns said daughter into a psychological ticking time-bomb who can’t bear to be touched by anyone at all, ever. Nice work there, Momma…!
Diane Baker plays the minxy sister-in-law Lil Mainwaring to perfection. What a nosey, spiteful little bitch! She’s just dying of jealousy because Mark loves Marnie and not her.
Clearly she was hoping she’d take her dead sister’s place in Mark’s bed and Mark’s life, not to mention Mark’s chequebook, but it ain’t gonna happen. That being the case, she’s going to stir up as much trouble for Marnie as she can, just as if poor Marnie didn’t already have enough problems to be going on with.
If you’re a horsey person, there’s a lot of equine action in the film for you to oooh-and-aaaah over, plus a very sad animal scene that will probably leave you traumatised for life, haha. Remember Marge and Lisa Simpson in THE SIMPSONS settling down for a girlie afternoon of doing each others’ nails and watching the saddest pony movies Marge could find in their local video store? Great fun altogether…!
I love all the views of the terraced street on the docks where Marnie’s childhood home in Baltimore is situated. The giant ship looks like a beautiful old painting. Apparently some of Hitch’s crew advised him that the ship looked fake and that they could fix it right up for him, but he refused, and I’m glad he did.
I mentioned earlier that, these days, Hitchcock’s films are only screened on Irish television around midnight at Christmas, after the main evening’s programming has ended.
Before I acquired the DVD, I therefore only usually got to see those iconic closing scenes with the ship in the harbour at around two or three in the morning, through a bleary-eyed fog of exhaustion in which everything on the screen looked surreal. Best way to watch the film really, for me. Happy days.
I love Hitchcock’s rather mischievous cameo, without which his films wouldn’t be the same, in a deserted hotel corridor. I love all the marvellous early ‘Sixties glamour and Tippi Hedren’s shining blonde hair and perfect voice and face and I love also the similarities to PSYCHO. Both heroines are on the run from their old bosses, after all, with a goodly amount of said boss’s dosh secreted away in a suitcase.
Those poor girls. One of them comes to a bad end. The other might just have a shot at a half-decent life. We’ll have to wait and see if it all pans out for poor dear Marnie, won’t we, dear readers? We’ll just have to wait and see…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64