You can never go wrong with the films of Alfred Hitchcock and his crazy suspenseful energy in them. From his Hollywood debut with Rebecca, Hitchcock has delighted (and shocked) audiences with films as Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds. But when he made the thriller Marnie, starring Tippi Hendren and Sean Connery, it was viewed as the most disappointing Hitchcock film ever made. But in recent years, it's been considered a fascinating film. Honestly, I have no clue why people hated this back in 1964. Seriously, this film is severely underrated, and features the Master of Suspense's traditional themes while continuing to wow in the thrills. How was this disappointing? (The only film from Hitch that I ever found disappointing is the overrated To Catch a Thief, talk about a disappointment.)
Tippi Hendren, a year after she got attacked by birds, plays Marnie, a liar and a thief who rips off the companies she works for and delivers the money off to her mother (Louise Latham), who has a thing against her. Because of this, Marnie has troubled dreams involving taps and the color red, and cannot stand to be touched by a man. When Marnie attempts to rip off the latest business, her boss, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), catches her in the act and forces her into marriage. The film later leads into loads of crazy twists and turns that feel reminiscent of Vertigo, jealousy, and death is looming at every corner.
The film also stars Diane Baker as Connery's sister-in-law Lil, Martin Gabel as Strut, Hendren's former boss she ripped off before Connery came in the picture, and Hitchcock makes a memorable appearance at the beginning exiting a hotel room just as Hendren is entering hers.
Why did I love Marnie so much? Cause the film is sick. Sick, sick, and twisted sick. Hitchcock was always a crazy old man who loved to creep people out, even going as far as developing a crush on Tippi Hendren, but Marnie is likely to be Hitchcock's craziest film since Vertigo. While Vertigo remains Hitch's ultimate masterpiece, Marnie stands out on its own.
I'm not going to go into full detail on the suspense, cause I don't want to give anything shocking away to those who have never seen it (especially skeptics who listen to those who hate it), but if you thought Vertigo was extremely sickening to watch, then Marnie is not for you. But if Hitchcock intrigues you in the suspense, then Marnie is your film.
One of the things that people have complained over the film is the sets, claiming that they feel artificial. Yes, they were sets, but with Hitchcock it makes Marnie feel more creepy to watch, especially the end set on a waterfront. The cinematography is brilliant, and the camera angles are very cool, especially during a love scene between Connery and Hendren.
Bernard Hermann, a frequent collaborator with Hitchcock, scores the film, and like his excellent and chilling score in Vertigo, it's fantastic. Even some sections feel reminiscent of Vertigo. But in the end, Hermann's chilling score is so amazing that you tend to forget that Vertigo ever existed.
Tippi Hendren was a fantastic actress for Hitchcock, definitely the best thing acting wise to come out of The Birds. In Marnie, she's even more fantastic. I can imagine some to complain that Hendren can get obnoxious, especially towards the end, but it didn't mind me, cause it had to do with the brutal complexity of her troubled character. I immediately fell in love with Hendren in this film; it's a shame that she didn't do any more films with Hitch after this, but if Hitch was really that crazy over her, then Hendren probably made the right decision. When hearing that Sean Connery was in a Hitchcock movie, I thought that was cool, but kind of weird, considering he's best known for playing James Bond. But in the end, Connery was pretty good in this. No, he's not the tough, superspy in this, but his acting is incredible, and his character is about as complex as Hendren's. In some ways, he's like the sick cousin of Jimmy Stewart's role in Vertigo, but without the Vertigo. Stewart might be the better actor, but I still found Connery's role to be satisfying. Even more crazy is Louise Latham as the mother. Man, that woman was creepy, especially in a beginning scene where the lighting makes her look like a demon. And a flashback scene towards the end really shocked me with its brutality. How did Hitchcock pull it off without any complaints by the Hays Code? I know the director was known for getting around it, but this is nothing like the infamous love scene in Notorious. I was also impressed by the performance of Diane Baker as the snoopy sister-in-law. I loved the snoopy and jealous remarks, and all in all, Marnie was an excellent film.
It may have been considered Hitchcock's most disappointing film in 1964, but in 2013, Marnie is an underrated Hitchcock gem, with a truly terrifying Bernard Hermann score, incredible performances from Sean Connery and Tippi Hendren, and Hitchcock's wonderful suspenseful energy. I hope 30 years from now, the film, like Vertigo, will eventually be realized as a true masterpiece. I'm not sure if Marnie will eventually beat out Vertigo as Hitchcock's greatest masterpiece, but I hope it'll come close.