She goes to work for a guy named Mark Rutland, and decides to rob him. Instead of turning her in, he's drawen to her, impulsively marries her, and becomes bound and determined to cure her of her mental issues. Not a whole lot of this makes much sense, and the pop psycholigy at work here is pretty bad.
Yet, despite the nuttiness and confusion of all of this, and the fact that it's really overblown and drawn out, I still sorta liked it. You've got a solid performance from Tippi Hedren, who really goes off the wall here, and Connery, though a bit creaky, does a decent enough job as Rutland.
The plot itself isn't all bad, but the screenplay is in need of some serious work. It was kinda hard for me to buy some of what was presented here, namely character motivations and the answers to Marnie's troubles. The film does look good though, and there's some excellent shots and sequences throughout, especially the safe robbery sequence. It's fairly suspenseful and pretty well done. Also, Bernard Herrmann's score (the last one he did for Hitch, I think) is also pretty nice.
The film is well meaning, but all over the place. Like I said, it's not a total failure, but it is pretty flawed. I was still entertained by it though, so take that as some sort of recommendation.
even the ending looks positive, marnie finds the cause of her problem and why she's so afraid of "red" (blood)...the only one marnie loves and shows affection for is her mother whom marnie thinks doesn't love her. in the end, marnie is consoled that her mother does love her but coy to demonstrate her passion for the child. thus marnie is a picture of a perverse romance between a parent and her child, instead of man and woman. and marnie says she would rather be with mark instead of jail, so could it be that he becomes the father figure she's never had in her life? and the sean connery character becomes the pateral figure who attempts to coach a die-hard lesbian into woman so he could finally "consummate" with her like a naughty daddy tickled by the idea of "incest"....could that be happy ending? or tragedy with a faux-relief because marnie now is finally willing to conform to this gentlemanly rapist and consents to be his hostage?
hitchcock askes the scriptor to add up the scene of attempted rape, and he has to fire the scriptor (who refuses that request) to have his ways of "raping marnie." there're also rumours (actually tippi hedren later admits some of them) that hitchcock's also highly "interested" in hedren but angery at her because of her persistent refusals . anyway, he wants to manipulate her life but she wishes to be independent. i assume that tension between hitchcock and hedren is projected into marnie.
the original cast was intended for grace kelly, who turned it down for being princess of morocco. but this picture fits better with tippi hedren. i do wonder how come it get so many bad critics? what's so bad about it? i think marnie's kinda refreshing with the most hard-boiled hitchcockian blonde ever! she's practically the biggest iceberg there and almost impossible to melt! hitchcock usually has a way to embody the hostility between man and woman (some degree of misogynism, you may say), such as vertigo. his man always wants to tame the proud woman and manipulate her into the ways he wishes her to be, as if he gets his kicks that way. that sympton is surely rendered through marnie with greatest obsessional violence.
I wanted to like Marnie. No one can claim that I didn't try. But every time the movie started to become interesting for me, it would take a wrong turn and I'd be back where I started: unhappy that I had finally found a Hitchcock movie that I didn't have at least somewhat of a favorable opinion of.
Marnie has a story that is much more complicated than it initially appears to be. On the surface, it's about a thieving young woman and the wealthy man who catches her in the act, but the movie explores psychological issues that go far beyond the simple plot setup. We discover that Marnie is quite the complex, damaged character, and then the movie becomes about finding out why she is the way she is. This is a dark movie, no doubt. There's little humor or lightheartedness to be found, and the dour atmosphere only increases as it goes on. I'm usually a fan of that, but not here.
I was surprised to be slightly disappointed in Tippi Hedren's performance. I loved her in The Birds, but in this movie she's so outshone by Diane Baker (in a much smaller role), that I can't help but be convinced that a different actress should have been found for the part. As for Connery, well...he was Connery. I had to constantly remind myself that this wasn't some odd, forgotten entry into the Bond franchise. Neither of the leads were suited for their roles, in my opinion.
Marnie just wasn't for me. I can appreciate it for its ambition and I hope to watch it again one day to a different result, but this was the least entertaining Hitchcock movie that I've seen. Beyond a few scenes (the part with Marnie and the cleaning lady and the scenes following the fox chase, for example), I failed to see his talented fingerprints on this film.
What I found most interesting about Marnie is the constant moral gray area it maneuvers through. Really, none of these people are decent, but there's a sick sort of interest in trying to figure out whether the movie is telling you that Sean Connery is. And believe me, he's not. Is the movie really trying to pass this manipulative pseudo-rapist off as a hero? The ending positions him as both Marnie's savior and her superior, which to me points at "yes." But then it's sympathetic toward Marnie too...is the movie complex, or just confused? I'm thinking a little of both. Hitchcock's women have never been extremely strong, and are generally more reactive than proactive. Here Marnie often gets to push the action, but it's Mark who drives the story to its ultimate goal, which leaves us feeling a little cheated of a protagonist who works through her own problems. She's the more interesting character; she's the one we want to see taking the reins in the climax. Instead, we just get some horribly aged, cheesily filmed psychotic break.
This is generally accepted as one of Hitchcock's missteps, and though its stature as a female-centric melodramatic thriller is unique among his oeuvre, it's easy to understand its failures. I left the movie feeling that it occupied my time well, and I had been exposed to a captivating portrait of an unusual woman, but at the same time I though it sort of humiliated her and gave way too much credit to Mark. I guess you could say that my personal dissatisfaction with it was no fault of the movie's, but my own; the ideology at its core seems rocky to me, however, and I can't help but feel that the movie's portrayal of Marnie cold have been a little more even.
Hitchcock's skill behind the camera, his painstaking care and the awareness of where to put the camera at the right place at the right time, lifts the film's quality from a standard freudian melodrama ala spellbound; to a stylish, sexy, suspenseful and involving vertigo's little cousin.
If you are a Hitchcock fan or not, you must watch this. This proves to be one of the best of the Hitchcock Collection.
I award this film 10/10. I love it and so will you.
The opening act of 'Marnie' contains some classic moments of Hitchcock's visual storytelling. The first sequence, Marnie walking away from the camera onto a train platform carrying a distinctive yellow handbag, immediately hooks us. Why aren't we seeing this character's face? Why are her nails painted pink rather than the traditional red? What's in that bulging handbag? We follow Marnie without seeing her face up until the moment when, having rinsed the black dye from her hair, she rises into view with a cheeky smile of satisfaction. The sequence detailing her studying the process by which the office safe is opened plays brilliantly by focusing solely on her attentive eyes. Her evening raid on the safe in question is a great moment of suspense as Marnie is unaware a cleaning lady is at work outside the office she's in the process of ransacking. Attempting to leave the building without being heard, Marnie puts her shoes in her coat pockets but one of them slowly works its way free, hitting the floor with a clatter. The twist is that the cleaning lady is deaf, allowing Marnie to escape.
Unfortunately, the film's remaining two acts are extremely troublesome. Hitch has put us into the shoes of Marnie so, when Mark forces her into marriage against her will, the story, in the mind of the audience at least, becomes focused on how she will escape. This isn't the story we're presented with, as Hitch uses the plot-line as a cheap way to introduce a twisted sexual element. Bizarrely, he asks us to identify with Mark, even after we've seen him rape his unwilling bride. The plot focuses on the question of why Marnie is "frigid", even though earlier we saw her happily exchange a kiss with Mark before he turned into a sex fiend. "Why won't she sleep with me?" asks Mark. "Because you're a psychopath!" the audience answers. Had the film been made twenty years earlier (and starred say, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman rather than the wooden Hedren and Connery), the sexual aspect wouldn't, or rather couldn't, have been brought up and instead it could have sat comfortably alongside the similarly themed psycho-drama 'Spellbound' or those more successful tales of twisted relationships, 'Rebecca' and 'Suspicion'. After a cracking first forty-five minutes, we spend the rest of the film wanting to beat Mark about the head with a weighty copy of 'Sexual Aberrations of the Criminal Female', the book he reads to get an insight into why women don't enjoy rape.
While it can't be classified as the last "classic Hitchcock", (that would be the preceding 'The Birds'), 'Marnie' acts as a bookend to his golden age, featuring the end of some significant collaborations. Cinematographer Robert Burks, editor George Tomasini, and production designer Robert Boyle would all end their association with Hitch after this film. Though Bernard Herrmann would go on to write an unused score for 'Torn Curtain', this would be the last time his evocative music would accompany Hitch's visuals, ending a film-maker/composer relationship which remains unsurpassed. 'Marnie' is one of his finest scores, though it's often unfairly criticized for being a 'Vertigo' knock-off.
Before 'Marnie', Hitch had found his time in Hollywood relatively trouble free. With a poor critical and financial reaction to the film, 'Marnie' would mark the beginning of the worst, and arguably the only poor, creative chapter in the director's long and illustrious career.