Release Year: 1964
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Jay Presson Allen (screenplay), Winston Graham (based on his 1961 novel Marnie)
Starring: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Louise Latham, Diane Baker, Alan Napier, Mariette Hartley, Martin Gabel, S. John Launer, Bob Sweeney, Milton Selzer, Bruce Dern
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #321, week 35 2020
The young and wealthy Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) falls for and decides to marry Marnie (Tippi Hedren) even though she is a habitual liar and compulsive thief and tries to help her confront the event in her past which is the cause of her behaviour.
Hitchcock’s Marnie was his follow-up to the highly influential and popular The Birds (1963) and Psycho (1960) and is often overlooked, which is perhaps understandable considering the quality of his other filmography. Like most of his films, Marnie is a mystery film here revolving around the title character, a psychologically damaged woman, and the man who decides to help her face her problems. Connery (The Wind and the Lion, 1975) is dashing as the young wealthy business man with an interest in zoology and as a sort of odd extension of that, also has an interest in psychology. The film weakest points are the odd associations it wants to make between predatory animal behaviour and Marnie’s character. That aspect seems dated, but might have been top notch in the 1960s. The film as a whole plays out in an unexpected and rather odd way. The two like each other, but Rutland apparently likes her well enough to pressure her into marriage in order to help her after a very short while, even though he knows she is a compulsive liar and a thief. After the marriage, they both discover that she cannot stand to be touched by any man, leading to Rutland attempting find the reason for this, which he suspects (rightly) is buried in a childhood trauma. The film does a fine job as a psychological drama, combined with an engrossing mystery. Hedren (The Birds, 1963) is good as Marnie, and gives a nuanced portrayal of am interesting character who is at turns sympathetic or not so. However, as Rutland comes to understand the reasons for her behaviour, so too our sympathy for the character grows. It all culminates in a highly satisfying final scene, which is emotionally powerful. A good solid mystery, with good performances, but not among Hitchcock’s best films.
During rehearsing with Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren asked Hitchcock: “Marnie is supposed to be frigid, have you seen him?” referring to the good looks of the young Connery. Hitchcock’s reply was reportedly, “Yes, my dear, it’s called acting.”
Hitchcock originally wanted the film to be a comeback role for Grace Kelly, but the people of Monaco were none to pleased with the idea of their princess playing a compulsive thief and liar.
Filming was scheduled to begin on 22nd November 1963 but was postsponed until the 26th due to the assassination and fneral of President John F. Kennedy.