Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)

It’s crap. Which is a shame, because it definitely has the feel of being one of Hitchcock’s more personal films, simply because it oozes his well-publicized misgivings towards women, particularly a kind of deep-seeded desire or need to downright control women and put them in his back pocket, just by how vulnerable and susceptible to her psychoses Marnie is. So with all that, there’re definitely some interesting ideas here (and an interesting performance by Sean Connery, as a character who you want to like by how obviously intelligent he is, but can’t bring yourself to do so by how obviously sleazy he is by basically forcing Marnie to marry him and seeing her as his own personal science experiment or something – perhaps he’s a stand-in for Hitchcock himself), but that all becomes lost in a mess of boring backstory, too many visual cues (the flashes of red meant to hearken to Marnie’s psychoses and repressed memories are particularly offensive as an overly-easy storytelling method), an unacceptably and irritatingly bombastic score by Herrmann, and a shrill-as-fuck Tippi Hedren, particularly when she goes into wide-eyed Southern Belle hypnosis mode. I think this would’ve been a lot better if there had been no easy explanation for Marnie’s klepto/man-fearing behavior (as in no color red and no ‘she does this because THAT happened, and she does that because THIS happened’ revelatory finale) and we were simply left to speculate what the hell happened to this girl to make her so painfully vulnerable as an adult, or more specifically, a girl in an adult’s body. Rather than having Hitchcock’s directorial stamp, “Marnie” has Hitchcock’s personal, psychological stamp, making it a kind of “Vertigo”-lite. But with all the egregious directorial and storytelling shortcuts, it’s “Vertigo”-REALLYlite.


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