FILMS… Marnie (1964)

#1960s

 

Sean Connery’s new bride is often shaken and stirred…

 

Marnie is a habitual thief and a liar, haunted by a past she doesn’t remember. Her latest employer, Mark Rutland wants to love and help her.

 

Marnie Official Trailer #1 – Sean Connery Movie (1964) HD, Movieclips Classic Trailers

 

As a critic, you know that you’ve got superengrossed in an Alfred Hitchcock movie when you don’t even notice this director’s famous cameo. This film is Marnie (1964) – arguably a love story in reverse –  with his then Hitchcock on-off muse, Tippi Hedren as the titular apparent ice blonde character.

Her leading man is Sean Connery after he’d made the first two films in his era as James Bond. His character is just as handsome and debonair, but like Bond in Marnie, his character’s personality hints at something much darker underneath this charming exterior.

Marnie is possibly one of the more dramatic, thrilling and engaging of Hitchcock’s love stories. US News reports HERE this film was described at the time; as;

“Only Alfred Hitchcock could create so provocative a love story”

The film soundtrack was composed by Bernard Herrmann. This was Herrmann’s last – but reportedly favourite – of his seven Hitchock film scores. The score is often bombastic, romantic or thrilling, but always apt, complementary and empathetic to the on-screen story.

Herrmann’s wife Norma was quoted HERE saying that;

“Marnie held a special place for Benny. He always said to me that out of all of his recordings that one came closest to realising his original ideas. It was his favourite.”

This film is wonderfully played by this perfectly chosen cast and was based on the novel by writer Winston Graham.

Marnie is not your typical ice-cold Hitchcock blonde, as her frostiness is not intentional or her own making. But it’s because of something that has happened to her in her past, with hints about this added throughout the film before the full story is shown in flashback.

From the initial evidence, one can deduce that she’s repressing a childhood event that happened to her as a child, while she was with her mother. It occurred during a thunder and lightning storm after a tapping noise was heard. Marnie’s fears and anxiety around this event are triggered by the colour, scarlet red and when sexual gestures are made towards her. She has no memories of the full story.

The film opening score has a majestic montage of moods and tones set to music by Herrmann. Then opening scenes show a reverse shot of a woman walking for a train. She has jet black hair and carrying a suitcase. After a close up of her handbag, all you hear are her footsteps as she walks briskly to her platform.

Meanwhile, an employer Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel) has informed the police, that Marion Holland, an employee, has stolen just under 10,000 dollars from him. He gives the police a full physical description of her and his vivid description fits the lady seen in the opening scene. A client of his, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) arrives and it is clear that both men remember her more for her looks and her figure, and in particular her knees and her legs (respectively).

This dark haired woman has arrived at her destination. She has been on a huge spending spree. At a hotel, she adds her new clothes and belongings to a new suitcase. She then adds the contents from her old handbag, which includes a wad or two of money notes. These confirm that she was the culprit who stole this money. She washes a black hair dye out her normally blonde hair. Then “Marion Holland” selects a new Social Security ID card with the name Margaret “Marnie” Edgar. We then see Marnie’s (Tippi Hedren) face for the first time.

After she disposes of her old belongings, she goes for a ride on her beloved horse, Fario at the stables. Marnie then goes home to her mother who lives in an apparently poor neighbourhood. Her mother walks with a limp and uses a stick. While she’s visiting it’s clear Marnie is envious of her religious mother, Bernice (Louise Latham)’s ongoing close friendship with a wee girl Jessie that her mother babysits on a regular basis.

Marnie spots some scarlet gladiolas, and this colour seems to shake her up (and this fear is also indicated with a red glowing filter on the screen). Bernice reprimands her daughter for lightening her blonde hair, warning her she will attract the wrong kind of man. We learn that Marnie grew up without a father, and both she and her mother believe they don’t need men in their lives. Marnie supports her mother financially and she spoils her with gifts.

However, Marnie feels her mother doesn’t love her or show her affection. She believes her mother thinks she is sleeping with her boss for a “pay raise”. She angrily questions her mother if she has done something wrong as she feels unloved, and then immediately Marnie apologises for her outburst.

While she has a lie down, Marnie has a nightmare. This is about her mother and one where she is asked to go somewhere but she doesn’t want to as it’s too cold. Her mother wakes her, saying she’s “dreaming”. Marnie tries to talk about this recurrent dream with her mother. She says it always occurs when her mother comes to her door, saying “that’s when the cold starts”.

Now a brunette, Marnie applies for a job as a Payroll Clerk at a publishing house using the name Mary Taylor. This little realising that her boss, is the handsome Mark Rutland. He immediately recognises her in the interview waiting room, as he remembers from the time when she worked with Strutt. He notices her when she pulls her skirt over her knees as she waits outside his office. Rutland takes her on instead of a woman who is ideal for the job.

As she works, she learns that Mark is a widower, whose young wife died about a year and a half ago. He is still friends with his sister in law, Lil (Diane Baker) who he helped bring up and Lil is now quite keen on him romantically. Marnie observes everything about the office routine, where keys are kept for the safe and where the cash is kept. She learns from the office manager, Susan (Mariette Hartley), that the safe instructions and code are kept in a locked drawer.

After running out of red ink, Mary (Marnie) borrows some ink but after she sees some of this scarlet substance drop on her shirt, she gets panicky and distressed. She brushes off her over the top reaction to a concerned colleague.

On Saturday, as a storm starts outside, she works overtime with Mark. He tells her he once had a jaguarundi, and he shows her a photo of this wild cat, Sophie. He tells her Sophie was wild, but then this animal learned to trust him which was a “big deal” for this exotic animal. He had wanted initially to be a zoologist and studied instinctual behaviour and predators. He believes these predators, are like women and women figure predominately in this “criminal class”.

As the storm outside continues, Marnie becomes spooked out by the lightning. Mark holds her and comforts her. During these lightning flashes, she sees the colour red and she asks him to “stop the colours”. He comforts her and kisses her, she doesn’t respond to this kiss. But they start seeing each other and he introduces her to Lil and his father (Alan Napier). It’s clear Lil is jealous of their apparent romance and she belittles Marnie at every opportunity.

However, shortly after this, Marnie waits behind one night after work and she steals the cash from the safe. Mark tracks her down to Forio’s stables. He then blackmails her into marrying him. He finds out her real identity, and that she has stolen money from her previous employers including Strutt.

He buys her an expensive engagement ring, but Lil gets suspicious about the money he’s spending on Marnie and she investigates more. After they marry, on their honeymoon cruise, Marnie rebuffs Mark’s sexual advances and she appears frigid, and one night he rapes her. He finds her unconscious in the pool the next day after she tries to kill herself and he saves her. He is determined to help her find the truth of her behaviours, and she’s still defensive… (and the rest is found in the usual ways).

In this film, Hitchcock’s view of Marnie can be analysed in relation to her unexplained behaviours. In these, she acts instinctively and routinely without questioning. After you discover the full story you can see all her behaviours are understandable in this new light.

However, by observing Marnie you believe that Marnie has attachment issues with her religious mother, and she is plainly jealous of her mother’s relationship with a young child, Jessie. In learning her mother’s proposed plans to help bring up, care for and protect this child – who like Marnie doesn’t have a daddy  –  Marnie seems to act and behave like a jealous child.

She also seems jealous of her mother brushing this child’s hair and then making a cake for her. Marnie yearns for her mother’s love but fears Jessie, a wee child has this love instead of her. The behaviour from her mother, also suggests her mother is also acting in this way for a then unsaid reason.

Marnie also habitually steals from her employers but then gives her mother money and nice things. She seems also to believe that she has done something wrong. When the full story of Marnie’s childhood is relayed and Bernice’s part in the story is revealed, these traits and behaviours by both women can be seen and interpreted in their full context.

Men mean nothing to Marnie, just a way of getting money for her mother, and Hedren’s Marnie steals only from men. She stays in a job for a short time, but enough time to rob the place and move on. Marnie is detached, remote and emotionless in all her scenes with Mark. And her fear of being intimate is also explained by this event.

Marnie’s only release and freedom from her nightmares and fears are seen at the stables.  Marnie visibly adores her horse and riding where she literally lets her hair down. Her horse is the only thing in the world that she trusts and loves and when riding she is released from her fears and anxieties.

Hitchcock was prescient in picking Connery as Mark. He was surprisingly slammed for choosing Connery, as Connery was then seen as a “newcomer” and that Cary Grant more ideal. Grant, I believe would be too gentlemanly and charming for this role, and there are many scenes that would not be as believable with Grant’s particular style of acting. These in particular include the rape scene and scenes where he confronts Marnie after the robbery at his publishing house.

However by picking the 1960s Connery, then the man’s man James Bond, Connery had proved he could play a man that can be manly with both a brutal and romantic streak. Displaying these opposing traits when confronting and challenging Bond girls, Connery was ideal as this particular kind of handsome leading man.

Connery took this role in a bid not to be typecast in espionage roles and demanded to see the script before he agreed to this role. As a relative film newcomer, he shines in this multi-layered role and his on-screen performance in all parts of his script is impeccable and unpredictable.

You feel his character’s growing love for Marnie, first as a challenge to tame and get the trust of another wild animal. As at first, he is more fascinated about her as a case, rather than a romantic love interest. His love for her only grows, after he rapes her and then he realises her vulnerabilities. Love and concern are seen after Marnie’s suicide attempt after he frantically searches her and finds her in the cruise boat pool and he saves her life. It is then, he wants to help her, love her and find out her story.

Connery’s performance also has him seen as genial with his father and he’s quite appropriately blunt and quite caustic with the lovelorn Lil. But in this performance, he easily convinces as he displays those attributes which made him the best James Bond. And it seems this handsome Scot and newcomer – and yes, he does play his character with his Scottish accent – was a hit on the set; Imdb states;

After rehearsing just a few scenes with 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.”

Diane Baker was a force to be reckoned with her bitchy performance as Lil. Lil acted more like she was entitled to have Mark than Marnie, his work colleague. Her pithy put-downs aimed towards Marnie were wonderfully executed. Mark seemed more than insightful of the reasons behind Lil’s womanly wiles and he could easily see through her actions and motives and gave her some nice wee put-downs in return which put her in her place.

Mark talks to Marnie about the time he domesticated a jaguarundi and his pride in getting this wild animal to trust him. One wonders if this was how he viewed Marnie, as a zoological find, that he caught (by employing her knowing her past robbery), trapped (into a marriage) then intends to tame in the hope to get her love and trust. It’s clear that Mark, with his wild cat experience, would have been the ideal man to help Tippi too, as she made a Roar (1981) and this was another film where it seems she needed a man who understood, just how to tame a tempestuous beast.

Weeper Rating😦 😦 😦 😦😦 😦/10

Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂  🙂 🙂 🙂 /10

Hulk Rating: ‎ ‎mrgreen ‎  ‎ ‎mrgreen / 10

 


The Bernard Hermann Blogathon 2021 No 31

This review was added to the Classic Movie Muse’s The Bernard Hermann  Blogathon. Bruce Dern in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Family Plot. Diane Baker in Murder She Wrote, Fantasy Island, Columbo, The Streets of San Francisco and The Love Boat. Louise Latham in X-Files and Rhoda. Mariette Hartley in Circle of Fear and MASH. Martin Gabel in Divorce American Style. Sean Connery is remembered HERE, Murder on the Orient Express, Darby O’Gill and the Little People, Family Business, The Rock, Robin and Marian, The Russia House, Meteor and Outland.  Tippi Hedren in Hotel, Hart to Hart and The Bionic Woman.


 

 

30 thoughts on “FILMS… Marnie (1964)

  1. Hi Gill, great review if one of Hitchcock’s weirdest films, perhaps his most deeply psychological and might I add perverse…even Vertigo does not come close. I agree that Connery is perfect with that layer of darkness beneath the charm and good looks and manners. I am a fan of Tippi in the title role, but am intrigued at the prospect of Grace Kelly in the role, Hitchcock’s original choice. Princess Grace wanted to play it, but her husband and his courtiers advised against it, saying it would besmirch her royal image. Maybe they were right, but Grace never got a chance to act on screen again.

  2. Everyone seems to be obsessed with Hitchcock at the moment. It seems like all the bloggers I read regularly are posting Hitchcock reviews and making Hitchcock-related posts. It’s infected me as well – I’ve just gone on a Hitchcock movie buying spree and I’m about to start doing regular Hitchcock reviews on my blog. In fact I’m just finishing up my review of Suspicion.

    And one of the Hitchcock movies I’ve just ordered is – you guessed it, Marnie! It’s a movie I’ve always been fascinated by.

    Personally I think the growing Hitchcock obsession is a good thing.

  3. Wonderful review, Gill! I love the background info you included and your careful analysis of Marnie and Mark.

    I believe you’re right about Cary Grant. Hitchcock had a knack for casting and I love Grace Kelly but I’m in the camp that’s glad that Tippi Hedren got the lead role. She had the detached manner you describe down to a tee.

    That’s a great tidbit about Marnie being Herrmann’s favorite Hitch score! It’s so lush and lovely but also has the shock factor. Perfect for the film it accompanies.

    I’m so glad you loved your choice. Thanks so much for participating in my blogathon!!

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment, I’m with you on this casting and I love the score. It is a lovely score, at turns romantic thrilling and I see that opening a bit like many thoughts in Marnie’s head, a bit muddled and trying to make sense of her attraction to Mark. This was on my to review list, so I’m glad you gave me an excuse to review it sooner rather than later.

  4. HELLO!! I’m Fairy Queen. I write to you from Italy. Your blog is very beautiful. Serenity and peace to you 🌹💐🌺🌼🌸🌻I love this movie. I ‘ ve seen it in my childhood. I love red colour in the visions of her. It’s Hitchcock that I knew in my childhood sitten in front of the camin. 😁

  5. I haven’t yet warmed up to Marnie (the movie or the character), but I agree Sean Connery was a perfect choice for the role. That was a great line from Hitchcock re: Connery’s attractiveness and Marnie’s, er, reluctance: “It’s called acting.” Hitchcock was full of terrific lines, wasn’t he?

  6. I’m a huge fan of Marnie! Personally, I think the movie was the climax of Hitchcock’s career. He didn’t have much to say after Marnie (I liked Frenzy and Family Plot, but these films simply regurgitated old themes). Anyhow, Manie seems to divide viewers (my wife thought it was sick, but then she said the same thing about Vertigo). I think it is a masterpiece, and Hedren is surprisingly brilliant (it’s too bad about her problems with Hitch). Glad to hear this was Bernie’s favorite score — it’s truly magnificent! Great review!

  7. After reading your review I really need to watch Marnie again. From my vague memories it was an atypical Connery role for the period, and there were hints Sean’s character may have been damaged in a similar way to Hedren’s. I thought Tippi was very good in this film and The Birds, it’s a shame the way her film career panned out.

  8. First of all, I love the clever James Bond reference at the top of your post – haha! 😀

    I’ve never seen this film. (As I explain in my entry to the blogathon, I’m skittish about Hitchcock in general.) But you’ve really got me wondering what was up with Marnie. 🙂

    Also, I find it interesting that Hermann said this score came closest to realizing his “original ideas”…It makes me wonder how often (and in what ways) he felt he had to compromise and what his original ideas were for his other films.

    Have you seen the Marnie opera? My curiosity won out over my Hitchcock-phobia, and I just had to give it a try when it aired on PBS a few years ago…I didn’t make it very far. Not because it creeped me out or anything, but because I couldn’t get past the weirdness of mixing purposely’60s style with exaggeratedly operatic voices. It didn’t compute. 😉

    I’m glad I participated in this blogathon (my very first, actually!), as it’s opening me up to a composer whose work is totally new to me – and introducing me to more bloggers along the way. 🙂 I enjoyed reading your post. If you haven’t yet, I’d love for you to check out my entry on Psycho. Thanks! 🙂

    • Will do. I have a Blogathon in December if you want to join.. and tbh rarely watch films that are turned into musicals. High Society is one of the rare exceptions. Reviewed more Hitchcock here if you want to get over your phobia by reading about it first…

    • Thanks for the invite! 🙂 I’ll think about it and comment on the post if I’m struck by inspiration. Pierce Brosnan is my favorite of the Bonds ❤ – but I’ve also been impressed with Timothy Dalton’s recent voiceover work.

      Also, I love High Society, too! 🙂 And I may come back to your Hitchcock reviews. You’re right – I’ve found reading about something is entirely different than watching it, and it’s a good barometer for determining if I really want to invest my time – and risk my psyche 😉 – viewing a film. So, your reviews may prove helpful! 🙂

  9. I am in the camp that thinks Marnie is an interesting film. It’s something to talk about and it is deeply layered despite the fact it’s not “perfect”. I always wanted to find out more about Lil’s and Mark’s past history, Something that had a great setup.

Love your thoughts... but only if they are spoiler free!

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