Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


MARNIE (1964). Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

Bizarre romance about two odd ducks in what would seem to be an impossible marriage. Widower Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) is the well-to-do head of a publishing concern, and Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is a frigid thief who comes to work for him, He is immediately intrigued by and attracted to her, and when he catches up with her after she absconds with the firm's money, he makes her a deal. He won't go to the police if she marries him! The honeymoon is uncomfortable to say the least and married life isn't much better, especially when Marnie's old victims come out of the woodwork. Mark determines to find out what happened in his wife's past to turn her into the tormented woman she's become. Sean Connery plays the material in just the right note, and Tippi Hedren, despite a few false moments, acquits herself better than you would expect given her lack of experience. Diane Baker is her usual sterling self as Mark's jealous sister-in-law, and Louise Latham is simply outstanding as Marnie's mother. This is a strange movie, not for every taste, but if it grabs you you'll find it very entertaining. Jay Presson Allen's script crackles with good dialogue and has both humor and suspense. This is a handsome and classy production, very well photographed by Robert Burks, and adroitly directed by Hitchcock. Bernard Herrmann's score is decidedly rich. Some may feel the psychology comes dangerously close to the dime store variety, but it's still all rather fascinating. One interesting question: When Mark has sex with Marnie during the honeymoon, could it be considered an act of rape? The best scene: Marnie on the runaway horse.

Verdict: Highly interesting latter-day Hitchcock. ***1/2.


Colin said...

Funny, I commented on this movie on another site a week or two back and someone mentioned the "rape" scene. I'm not sure we're meant to view it that way. The movie was made almost 50 years ago, and I doubt Hitchcock had that thought in mind when he shot it.

Agree with you on Diane Baker, she's very good here and sexy as hell too. As for the dime store psychology, I have to admit to being a sucker for all that - probably a result of watching too many Freudian inluenced 40s thrillers.

William said...

Yes, I always thought Diane Baker was very attractive and very classy.

I know what you mean about the Freudian forties films. I also confess I'm not that bothered by dubious psychology if the story works in spite of it.

As for the rape/sex scene, I agree that we're not meant to see it that way. One could argue that Marnie never actually says no or asks Mark to stop, but as she appears to be virtually catatonic at the time it's still kind of creepy. It would be interesting to see how people would reasct to a similar situation today. Mark undoubtedly was hoping that at some point Marnie would react to his ministrations -- no such luck, poor guy!

Thanks for your comments!

Amelia said...

I didn't feel comfortable watching older movies but my friend is recommending me to watch out this one. Before watching it I wanted to know about this movie. Your review gave me an idea about this movie which is very pleasing. Thanks.

William said...

Thanks for your comment. Whether you like Marnie or not, there's a lot of pleasure in viewing classic old films -- don't count them out.

Best, Wm.