rating: (out of 4 stars)
United Kingdom; 1964
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock; produced by Alfred Hitchcock; screenplay by Jay Presson Allen
Starring 'Tippi' Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham, Bob Sweeney
I think 'Marnie' is a good film that could have been great. A fascinating start is followed by an entertaining but simple middle part. Its ending is great again, although it does not really fit the middle. It does contain a terrific Sean Connery performance, one of the better musical scores by Bernard Herrmann (and he made a lot of them), and the direction by the Master of Suspense Alfred Hithcock.
Now I have to admit: in my book Hitchcock can do less, but never wrong. From his silent features to his comedies, and his early talkies to 'Vertigo' and 'Psycho', for me Hitchcock is the director of directors. Looking for his touches, seeing his style, is part of the fun, following the auteur theory. 'Marnie' shows some of obvious ones, including a frigid heroine with Tippi Hedren in the Grace Kelly role, and a plot involving psycho analysis.
Hedren is Marnie - although she goes by many names - a compulsive thief. The audience meets her right after she has stolen almost $10,000 dollars from her employer Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel). After some changes in appearance she applies for a new job, bookkeeper at Mark Rutland's company. Mark (Sean Connery) recognizes her since he is a client of Strutt, but still hires her, out of curiosity, we later learn. After he caughts her stealing his money as well, he blackmails her: he will keep his mouth shut, as long as she marries him.
Opposed to the idea, she has no choice. Mark soon learns that Marnie despises the touch of a man, she is afraid of thunder storms, can not handle the color red. The audience gets an idea of the possible cause, and so does Mark. Also in on the secret is Mark's sister in law Lil (Diane Baker), who wants Mark for herself and makes it hard on Marnie. Early in the film we meet Marnie's mother (Louise Latham), whom she denies to Mark.
As said, the first and last part of the film are very good. They are interesting, entertaining and, eventually, shocking. The middle part, unfortunately, is only entertaining, which is noticable when other parts are so much stronger. The viewer will not be bored, and Hedren, Baker and especially Connery give pleasing performance throughout, but I think parts could be cut. The idea, the drive of the film, is fascinating. Not so much Marnie's illness (she is also a pathalogical liar), but Mark's decisions dealing with her. He wants a thief and a liar, and later he wants someone who despises him. Connery finds a nice way of making us believe he could do what he does.
'Marnie' belongs to the good film Hitch has made, not the great. I loved watching it, but I didn't love it, and that is exactly what I instantly did with 'The 39 Steps', 'The Lady Vanishes', 'Rebecca', 'Shadow of a Doubt', 'Notorious', 'Strangers on a Train', 'Rear Window', 'The Trouble with Harry', 'Vertigo', 'North by Northwest', 'Psycho' and 'The Birds'. That's quite a list.
|Review by Reinier Verhoef