1964, Movie, PG, 120 mins


Hitchcock's most liberated and poetic film, MARNIE is a masterpiece of psychological mystery that encompasses all of the director's obsessions--the unleashing of suppressed female sexuality, duplicitous personalities and false identities, childhood trauma leading to a disturbed and warped reality in adulthood, and the director's own love of cool-looking blondes and "pure cinema." Its characters are possessed by psychological demons similar to those in VERTIGO or PSYCHO. Hedren plays a kleptomaniac whose compulsion to steal springs from her need to be loved. Using various identities and disguises, she moves from one job to the next, each time running off with a cache of cash and leaving behind no clues. Connery, a business associate of one of Marnie's previous victims, recognizes Marnie when she comes to work for him, and confronts her with his information. Rather than turn her in, however, Mark blackmails her into marriage--discovering her deep-seated fears of men, sex, thunderstorms, and the color red. Met with a less-than-enthusiastic response, MARNIE was one of Hitchcock's 1960s films (THE BIRDS, TORN CURTAIN, and TOPAZ were the others) that raised suspicions among some critics of the master's having lost his touch, unable to adjust to the times. In retrospect, MARNIE emerges as prime Hitchcock--its tone and subtext as revealing as that of VERTIGO, although more desperate and disquieting (perhaps because of Hitchcock's deep obsession with Hedren during production). Of interest is Hitchcock's uncharacteristic use of a technique that makes the audience actually feel Hedren's traumas. Seeing Hedren against abstract backdrops and "poor" rear-screen projections makes her world seem disturbingly unreal. The ever-changing weather conditions, in which thunderstorms conveniently brew and night changes rapidly to day, and the use of a few frames of red shock the audience into experiencing Hedren's fear (a technique Hitchcock had attempted as early as 1935 in SECRET AGENT). leave a comment

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Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series)
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Marnie (BFI Film Classics)
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