Marnie is one of those Hitchcock movies about which there is a pretty wide range of opinions.
It was a real critical failure when it was released. Probably because Hitch brought a lot of his themes to the surface—for example we get Sean Connery (Mark Rutland) as the male who blackmails the beautiful thief Marnie, (Tippi Hedren) into marriage. Right off the bat we have the two leads as very unlikable people (and there is more about them both that I won’t go into since you have not seen the movie) engaged in a sexual power struggle (typical for Hitch, but this is usually a bit more under the surface).
This movie, at least for me, is one of Hitchcock’s most deeply dark and disturbing movies. The plot is not that believable (as is true in many of his films), but the characterization of the protagonists is spot on.
Early in the film you can see one of the great achievements in cinematography combined with suspense as Marnie and a cleaning woman peruse their parallel paths and tasks.
I love this movie and consider it a masterpiece, but a great many consider it a failure.
Scary... having seen Marnie on TCM Sunday night, I was thinking about posting this topic just as my eyes came across the thread.
I know the film has become well regarded, and I can recognize the technical ambition and great characterizations. My hopes were high as it became clear that the two characters were almost equally disturbed, and the office theft scene that starts in the bathroom would fit into one of Hitchcock's best films. (I agree with everything you said, Lew, until your last sentence.)
I just don't see how the flashes of genius overcome the unintentional laughs in this movie. Almost every dramatic peak had me laughing, and I am not one to laugh at movies, let alone Hitchcock movies.
Some examples: -The editing of the horse crashing -Zooming in and out on the cash in the safe -The oft repeated "Oh, mama!" (Hedren really had to go out on a limb for these scenes.) -Marnie's near-instant breakdown during the free association -Extremely obvious matte paintings (intentional?)
I guess the question is, to loosely quote Whedon, since Hitchcock's subtext became text, what's the new subtext? It's possible I was not prepared to look at this film in the correct light. I've been unable to find a detailed defense from a fan. Maltin's guide, for instance, just says that there's "more than meets the eye." Okay...
Kael says "Hitchcock scraping bottom," which at the moment seems more reasonable to me. It's very engaging and I wouldn't mind watching it again, but it practically defines "misfire" since it definitely fires.
It's the same master who did many of Hitch's latter films, the late great Albert Whitlock. I'm not sure if they were meant to be "obvious" as much as they were meant to convey a sense of the sureality that the characters lived under.
I don't think the film is top tier Hitchcock, but's it good enough to be second tier. It's certainly not bottom tier. One can only speculate, but I believe if Grace Kelly had done this film (like both she and Hitchcock wanted), it would have been a subtly different and better film.
i'm currently doing a tivo wishlist on hitchock, so i'm getting to see a lot of his movies. most of them i like quite a bit, but marnie was a tough watch. i pretty much forced myself to finish it ... just to see what happens.
the movie just seemed to drag. i got what connery was trying to do from the very start, but it just seemed so ... "odd" ... in the way he executed his plan.
i guess i just didn't buy into the story.
on a side note, i just saw strangers on a train. now that's a good flick!
That's pretty much the impression I had. Also, the movie seemed like a patchwork of scenes he's done before in past movies. I had trouble finding anything reasonably new and exciting. Even the after-hours safe scene appeared a bit forced.
‘Marnie’ (1964): Perhaps Hitchcock’s Most Underrated Masterpiece?
Marnie is understandable for its underappreciated status. When the film was released in 1964, audiences back then who was looking for the same style and approach in Hitchcock’s films prior to this one - i.e. Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963), they simply were unprepared for the depth and complexity of the film’s non-mainstream and non-conventional style.
Marnie is a dialogue driven, character and psychological study of a woman with suppressed childhood memories. Hitchcock uses a lot of metaphors and color symbolism throughout the film. Part of Marnie’s lack of acceptance when it was initially released in 1964 may be attributed primarily for its disturbing storylines – a questionable rape scene and sexual promiscuity. These types of storylines may be more acceptable to today’s audiences.
Regardless, Marnie works because it is well written, beautifully photographed and a well acted dramatic film. Its screenplay is a break from Hitchcock’s more mainstream suspense thrillers. It is by no means a perfect film as it contains the male dominance undertones also present in other Hitchcock films (i.e. Vertigo).
I haven't seen it in a while, but I remember really liking it. In my view, it's the last of the Hitchcock's where he was really on top of his game.
As for the matte paintings and the rear-projection - I really do think that was deliberate to create an idea that the characters were confined and trapped, even in settings that were wide and open. I wouldn't consider it a fault.
I have to say I really like MARNIE, and I'd watch it over and above even films like REAR WINDOW.
In many ways the film was an attempt to create a dramatic analogy for the therapeutic process, which is not at all easy. Several of his films attempt this, including SPELLBOUND and VERTIGO, and this preoccupation with psychology - the need to understand mental aberration - is, for me, the most noticeable thread in all his films.
The obviously melodramatic tone may be off-putting to some and is no doubt partly down to the style of the times. However, deliberately or not, this emotional extremism actually rings quite true to anyone with any experience of these kinds of mental dysfunctions. Similarly, the matte paintings may have just been a technical limitation, but they beautifully capture the flimsy pretence of normality that such patients construct around themselves.
As an attempt to film what the mind sees, it seems part of a chain that links films like THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI through to REPULSION and eventually even EYES WIDE SHUT, to name but a few.
MARNIE is certainly a dark and difficult film, and it's hard to balance its long stretches of dialogue with Hitchcock's much-vaunted doctrine of the image over everything. I think this illustrates, however, just how desperate Hitch was to conquer this subject ; and for those, with an insight into the conditions described (albeit crudely) MARNIE has much resonance. Approached simply as a thriller, however, modern audiences may find its histrionic tone a little hard to take.
Even that god-awful rear projection shot of the other horses and riders as she prepares to go on what turns out to be her final ride on her horse? If he was going for a certain effect with that, I certainly didn't get it.
There are some good scenes in this movie--just caught the opening again on TCM a couple of days ago, and the early scenes with all the shots of Marnie before you first see her face are striking--but overall I don't think very much of it. Hitchcock is my favorite director, but for me this movie marks the start of that last period of his career where his movies had some pretty good scenes in them, but weren't all that great overall. Like with Torn Curtain, I think there are a couple of awesome scenes in that one (particularly the escape on the bus), but it isn't much to write home about in the end.
IMO, Hitchcock's biggest flaw as a director was his lackadaisical attitude towards rear projection. You see similar problems in Rebecca and North by Northwest, among others. I certainly don't hold that against Marnie.
I too am suprised that someone would hold this film in higher regard than others like Rear Window, but I've certainly heard odder things.
I had written something, but George said it better.
Personally I think that Hitchcock’ indifference to rear projection, was just one more example of him letting everyone know that it was a movie. He did this a lot, though usually not in such blatant ways.
Notorious is one more example of obvious rear projection.
It's true, damn it, and at last it's out ! I like MARNIE better than REAR WINDOW ! I even like it better than VERTIGO !! And guess what ? I prefer BARRY LYNDON to 2001 as well ! Yes, that's right ! And I like HOOK better than JAWS too ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA !!
( No, that last one's a lie. Not even in jest could I pretend that was true. )
Actually, it was the horse shots that I was thinking about. It's exactly as I described. Even though she may feel like its when she's on her horse that she is most free, the reart projection seems to be telling us tjhat it's not real, that she's still trapped. At least that's the impression I had.
Or it could be just me trying to read intent into sloppy rear projection work. Either or.
It's been some time since I've seen the film so it might be worth a second viewing. I thought it was okay and to be honest I was just out to get a Tippi Hedren fix. I don't know what it is but there's something about her that makes her more attractive and compelling to me than any other Hitchcock blonde. I know I'm probably in the minority on that one.