Marnie Edgar is an ice-cold habitual thief. She uses her looks to gain the confidence of her employers, robs them, and changes her identity. Her only loves are her horse and her mother, although she has problems with the latter relationship. Marnie applies for a job at Mark Rutland's Philadelphia publishing company. Mark recognises her since he is a client of her last employer, but instead of turning her in, he decides to watch her.
Tippi Hedren ... Marnie Edgar (as 'Tippi' Hedren)
Martin Gabel ... Sidney Strutt
Sean Connery ... Mark Rutland
Louise Latham ... Bernice Edgar
Diane Baker ... Lil Mainwaring
Alan Napier ... Mr. Rutland
Bob Sweeney ... Cousin Bob
Milton Selzer ... Man at Track
Mariette Hartley ... Susan Clabon
Bruce Dern ... Sailor
Henry Beckman ... First Detective
S. John Launer ... Sam Ward
Edith Evanson ... Rita, Cleaning Woman
Meg Wyllie ... Mrs. Turpin
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.
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 psychosis.
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.
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.
* Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock] Five minutes into the film, in the hotel corridor as Marnie walks by.
* Diane Baker was not allowed to read the script of the film before choosing whether or not to do it. She was only told that it was an Alfred Hitchcock movie named Marnie starring Tippi Hedren.
* Diane Baker has said that for the scene where she eavesdrops on Mark and Marnie talking outside of the house, Alfred Hitchcock came up to her, put his hands on her face, and physically manipulated it into having the expression he wanted for the scene.
* Alfred Hitchcock first asked Evan Hunter, the screenwriter for The Birds (1963), to adapt the novel after Tippi Hedren had signed on. However, Hunter strongly objected to the scene in the novel where Mark rapes Marnie, as he felt it was "unheroic" and that it would make women in the audience hate Mark. When he pressed Hitchcock about changing the scene, Hitchcock fired him. Jay Presson Allen, who took over as screenwriter, stated that opposition to the rape scene doomed Hunter since that scene was the main reason Hitchcock wanted to do the film. For her part, Allen said she never had any qualms about including the scene, and felt it was up to Sean Connery and his charisma to make the audience "forgive" Mark's actions.
* Joseph Stefano originally wrote a screen adaptation of the novel when Grace Kelly was supposed to star. Stefano's adaptation was much truer to the original book, and would have included two important characters from the novel that never made it into the final version of the film. One was a psychotherapist that Marnie was seeing at Mark's insistence, whose role ended up being merged into Mark's. The other was a man named Terry who was a co-worker of Mark's and also in love with Marnie. The part of Terry was massively reworked and ended up becoming Lil.
* Screenwriter Jay Presson Allen thought that the expensive car Mark drove and the fancy clothes worn by his father were ridiculous and out of place, but Alfred Hitchcock insisted that they were necessary to convey the proper feeling of Mark being part of an "American aristocracy" to the audience.
* Alfred Hitchcock was loathe to use a mechanical horse to film the shots of Marnie riding, but sent a crew member to inspect a mechanical horse owned by Disney that was supposed to be the best in existence. Walt Disney spotted the crew member on the Disney lot and personally offered to let Hitchcock use it, which he did.
* 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.
* The production company created for the film, "Geoffrey Stanley" was named after Hitchcock's pet dogs.
* After rehearsing just a few scenes with co-star Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren asked Alfred Hitchcock, "Marnie is supposed to be frigid - have you seen him?" referring to the young Connery. Hitchcock's reply was reportedly, "Yes, my dear, it's called acting."
* 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.
* Bruce Dern can be seen briefly as the sailor in Marnie's flashback.
* When Alfred Hitchcock's discussion with Grace Kelly (to appear as the title character) became public, the residents of Monaco expressed their disapproval, and Kelly withdrew. In a further complication, since Kelly had not fulfilled her MGM contract when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, she could not appear in any film other than an MGM film until she fulfilled the terms of her MGM contract.
* Marnie (1964) opened at New York theaters as the top half of a double bill with Never Put It in Writing (1964) starring Pat Boone in the second position.
* Bernard Herrmann's last score for a Hitchcock film.
* The 6 & 1/2 carat blue-white flawless diamond ring that Mark buys for Marnie cost $42,000, or approximately $285,000 in 2008 currency, when factored for inflation. In the week that Mark had returned with Marnie up until their marriage, he spends approximately $70,000, including the ring, or approximately $475,000 when factored for inflation.
* Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Jay Presson Allen were allowed to see scenes from Dr. 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."
* Louise Latham, who played Marnie's mother, was suggested by screenwriter Jay Presson Allen--the two had been classmates in a boarding school in Texas.
* When Louise Latham came onto the set in her "young" makeup to film the film's climactic flashback, she looked so different that the cameraman began to ask around to find out who the new actress was.
* Screenwriter Jay Presson Allen wrote in Mark's hobby of studying animal behavior because that was her hobby and tangentially fit with Mark's later inclination to psychoanalyze Marnie.
* Tippi Hedren has stated that many people have asked her what it was like to kiss the handsome Sean Connery in this film. Her reply was, "How sexy was it? It wasn't. It was simply technical. It was totally technical."
* To film real horses riding without having to work outdoors, Alfred Hitchcock came up with the idea of running the horses on a gigantic treadmill. Crew members objected to the idea because it was considered highly unsafe and because they simply didn't think it would work. Still, Hitchcock wanted to at least try it, and when they did, it worked without a problem. Originally, a harness was attached to Tippi Hedren during these shots for safety reasons, but it was removed when it was found to impede shooting.
* Despite the troubles which reportedly took place on set, Tippi Hedren has stated that this is her favorite movie which she has appeared in.