Sunday, January 16, 2011

MARNIE in celebration of CMBA's Hitchcock Blogathon

The day is finally here for the Hitchcock Blogathon promoted by the CMBA.  I've chosen to review Marnie which is one of my favorite Hitchcock films.  For a list with links to other CMBA members reviews please see my previous post with the film list and links.

The 1964 film which stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery touches upon subjects that are uncomfortable even today.  Even though Hitchcock was the master of suspense he was also a provocateur who shocked audiences with his subtle hints about, abuse, obsession, brutality, rape, and promiscuity.  I'm certain Marnie has been reviewed many times, picked apart, analyzed and been given it's critique whether good or bad so I'm going to review the film in my own way...paying tribute to Hitchcock through my own lens with a tad of snark.  (I don't want to give every detail away for those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing Marnie but there will be screen shots and plot descriptions...fair warning).

Within two minutes we know theres been a robbery and oddly a mysterious black haired female making a quick escape.  (I'm wondering if Hitchcock has been cured of his obsession with blondes! hmm I'll give it time).

Hitchcock pans in slowly to an empty safe and to prove this is important we get the ominous Hitchcock music to stress that a robbery has occurred.

Mark Rutland is being filled in on what was taken and the mysterious woman who is responsible.  Instead of showing concern he appears oddly amused and intrigued.  At first glimpse we realize he has power and wealth and we want to find out what he's up to.  (Of course I hear Hitchcock's voice in my head saying "Nothing is what it seems so just pay attention").

We get a glimpse of the dark haired woman checking in to a room as well as a peek at her neighbor. (Hello I knew you would show yourself).  The first thing the woman does is dye her hair blonde. (Oh Hitchcock you never disappoint with your obsessions).

Hitchcock pans in to the woman stuffing something into a locker then......

...a key disappears into a grate.  Thats all we need to know for now.  

Our first real glimpse of this woman and she looks very happy and content upon seeing a horse named Orpheo

Our blonde arrives at a row house and I'm distracted by the gigantic ship in the background that appears to be coming down the street! Obviously she can't take her eyes off of how peculiar it is either. 

Awww! She's visiting her mother...this should be a happy occasion.  (I hear Hitchcock's voice again "Tsk Tsk my dear").

Upon seeing a vase of red flowers our mysterious blonde literally sees RED...This can't be good.

She's frightened and wants affection but she's rejected by mom..who has an achy, crushed leg.  This makes me sad as I've seen her mother show affection to the little girl who lives next door.  Obviously the mother and daughter have a damaged relationship but knowing Hitchcock I won't know why for some time if ever.

And just when we think we can't feel sorry for our mysterious blonde anymore than we do, H shows mother brushing the little girl's hair while her own daughter sits rejected in the corner. (Well done H)!

After a heated argument in the kitchen between Marnie and her mother we come back to a nightmare...theres a knock...and red and her mothers voice at the door wanting her to wake up.

I want her mother to comfort her and say what mothers say but then I see her mothers ominous silhouette in the doorway..she's cold and uncaring and I'm reminded that this is Hitchcock.

Our Marnie has found a new mark, er job and she's now sporting reddish blonde hair.  (She shouldn't have listened to her mother's disapproval because I don't like it!..but I know it's Hitchcock playing with us again so I'll settle down).

Marnie gets an interview at Rutland & Co. and the man in the room just happens to be the same man who recognizes her from her previous he owns this new company.  He listens quietly as she spins lies about her past to the interviewer. 

She's blabbering on about a dead husband and needing a job but I can't take my eyes off of her hair...

...or this guy who finds amusement in her sad tale..(He may be extremely handsome but I don't trust him or Hitchcock)!

A tiny red ink stain triggers Marnie's fear which leads to a mini meltdown witnessed by Mark. Theres a scene in the bathroom which leads to Marnie in a slip. (I wonder to myself how many times Hitchcock filmed that scene to get it perfect)!

Marnie gets called in to work alone with the boss on a weekend! Theres a terrible storm which triggers more terrors that exposes us to Marnie's fears and vulnerability....Surely Mark will be sympathetic and comfort her...

She screams out "The Colors, Stop the colors" all while Mark prods her and attempts to get details about what's causing her terror.

Instead of comforting her he goes in for a forced kiss when she's clearly not okay or in the mood to be seduced.  (I find myself wondering how many women were disturbed by this back in 1964).

Marnie may be damaged and uninterested in men but she's a girl on a mission.  She's having a great time at the race track until someone from her past recognizes her.  We all know Mark knows but he's toying with her like a cat with a toy over her shady past.  I'm beginning to think he's just as damaged. 

Lil! Mark's weird sister-in law who obviously has the hots for him now that he's widowed.  This should go well since she's just as devious as everyone else in this movie.

Marnie has wasted no time! After-all she loves two things, her cons and horses.  It's obvious she's done this a few times since everything has been meticulously planned out.  

She has the safe code, keys and determination! In and out and on to her next mark.

A not so happy to see me face when Mark comes calling.  (This should be good but I won't be real happy if she gets slapped Mr. Hitchcock)!

Creepy McCreeperton decides to get his money back and let her know he looked into her background...(I smell blackmail).

Aaannnddd Blackmail!  He wants a wedding and love and all that nonsense in exchange for her, well not going to jail.  (Since Creepy studies Zoology and female criminal behavior this should be a marriage made in heaven but just in case keep your wedding gift receipts Marnie).

The wedding day! He's married to the one on the right...who could care less.  (I bet she just picked Lil's pocket).

Before the honeymoon car has pulled out of the driveway Lil has a bad headache..HA! Not really, she's just snooping and digging for information so she can get rid of the blonde...because that always works out.

Back on the honeymoon cruise of love and blackmail we get our first look at Marnie and her bedtime attire. This caftan doesn't exactly scream I'm available.  

Her reaction to his advances..after screaming "If you ever touch me again I'll die"..(Surely he realizes she's damaged so he will coddle her and get her back home safely..Right Hitchcock)

A couple of nights later he's drunk and she's vacant and I feel sorry for her because I know what he does next.

His look says it all! (And the audience of 1964 sits shocked and embarrassed). 

The next morning Mark wakes to find Marnie like this...she was true to her word. 

Luckily he has redeeming qualities and she survives. 

They're back home and Jimmy Stewart is spying on them from the Rear Window!  Ooops thats just Lil doing what she does best...not much.

After a scene with Lil snooping around and eavesdropping on Marnie calling home COLLECT Mark shows up with his "I'm sorry I raped you and blackmailed you into staying here gift"...It's Orpheo and Marnie is so happy that I think things may turn out for her after all...then I snap back to reality.  Ride like the wind Marnie and don't look back!

Of course Lil is burning a hole in the carpet waiting to spill her info to Mark and from his expression we know he's going to use this info to draw Marnie deeper into his web.  Take a hike Lil you're annoying!

More of Hitchcock playing with us!

Marnie has another bad dream which Mark exploits while using his new found book learnin to analyze her and make her feel worse.  Yep! He's a creeper. (This leads into a very good scene where the two go back and forth and it starts to expose some of Marnie's deep seeded issues with men).

Oh theres a fancy party and Mr. Strutt who Marnie ripped off shows up...He.was invited by Lil...Please go away Lil!  Marnie wanted no part of it so she ran to her room and dressed up like Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief before Mark stopped her and offered to pay everyone off.

The next day is a hunt which we don't see much of because Marnie sees red and takes off...Go Marnie go and don't look back.

Then this happens and I let out a gasp because this scene gets me every time.

 She puts poor Orpheo out of his misery and my heart breaks! Dang you Hitchcock, why couldn't she just put a dart in Lil  or better yet have something good happen to her.

"There, there, there now" (I have the sads and that line gets me every time. Poor Marnie, she's so flawed)

Marnie's back in her gloves and doing the only thing that comforts her.

It's good to see her smiling again even if she is ripping Creepy off.

She's been caught by creepy and her hair is the least of her worries! He wants her to go see mom.  The gig is up but at least she's getting away from Lil and the wind machine.

But not before he forces her to take his money which she refuses to do. Let go creeper. 

The drive to moms is beyond uncomfortable as expected. I wish they would stop for ice cream or run through some daisies! So intense Hitchcock let it stop!

Mom is greeted with her seedy past of prostitution and shame which sends Marnie into shock.  Mark isn't holding anything back and I wonder if this is his idea of a Zoology experiment.

We learn the truth about mom's accident as Marnie flashes back to a dark night when she's just a child. She speaks like a little girl and I know this is going to be painful.

Dr. Creepy of Zoology holds nothing back as he delves into the events that caused Marnie so much damage.  I wish he was soaking wet from sweat but sadly it's just raining outside.

Momma's angry! She wanted those memories to stay suppressed so she could live without guilt. Don't mess around and get your leg to aching lady!

All of the events from that horrible night come flooding back. Marnie witnessed terrible things that no little girl should witness or go through. We all want her to be better now.

Hitchcock wants us to know something bad happened on that couch

A young Bruce Dern getting whacked and I don't feel bad for him one bit after what he did! 

We get a glimpse of the injured and very flawed momma on that night.

We know why seeing red and thunderstorms causes Marnie to flip her wig

Hitchcock knows how to give the audience terror 

"There, there there now"

In all seriousness I really do like this film and I've seen it about 10 times now.  Although it touches upon things that we might object to, can relate to or that we are surprised Hitchcock would delve into in 1964, it's part of our film history and it's cinema at it's best.  If you haven't seen it I encourage you to take the time to do so, especially if you are a lover of Alfred Hitchcock's work. I hope you have enjoyed my photo blog and I appreciate you stopping by.  Please enjoy some Marnie trivia and the trailer for Marnie below.
There, there now,

MARNIE Trivia:

Diane Baker who plays Lil was not allowed the script before accepting the part. She was only told that it was a Hitchcock film and Tippi Hedren was in it.

In the scene where Diane Baker is eavesdropping from the upstairs window Hitchcock came up and manipulated her face into the expression that he wanted.

Evan Hunter, the screenwriter who adapted "The Birds" signed on to "Marnie" but then he felt uneasy after reading the rape scene between Mark and Marnie. He felt it was "unheroic" and it would make the women in the audience hate Mark.  Hitchcock fired him rather than omit the scene.  Hitchcock stated the the rape scene was the main reason he wanted to do the film.  He also felt it was up to Sean Connery and his charisma to make the audience forgive him for his actions.

The original screenplay was written by Joseph Stephano and included two additional characters. One a psychotherapist that Marnie was seeing at Mark's insistence.  The role ended up being merged with Marks.  The second character was a friend of Marks who's also in love with Marnie.  The part was changed around and Lil was added.  Grace Kelly was to play Marnie initially.

Hitchcock was loathe to use a mechanical horse to film the shots of Marnie riding, but sent a crew member to inspect a mechanical horse owned by Disney that was supposed the be the best in the business.  Walt Disney offered to let Hitchcock use it so he did.  (I wonder what other movies we have seen that horse in..hmmm)

Hitchcock wanted Grace Kelly to make her comeback by playing Marnie but the people of Monaco were not happy about her playing a compulsive thief. (Somehow I think her portraying a thief would have been the least of their concerns).

Hitchcock chose Sean Connery after seeing scenes of him in "Dr. No" even though he was of Scottish decent and he was to play an "American aristocrat".

After rehearsing just a few scenes with Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren went to Hitchcock and said "Marnie is supposed to be frigid, have you seen him" in which Hitchcock replied "Yes dear, it's called acting".

When Louise Latham, who plays Marnie's mother wonderfully came onto set after having her "young makeup" done for her flashback scene, she looked so different the cameraman didn't know who she was.

Despite Tippi admitting that she had issues with Hitchcock during filming and they didn't speak after the film wrapped up she admits that it was her favorite movie that she has appeared in. 

To avoid filming outdoors the horse hunting scene was done with horses running on a giant treadmill.  Tippi wore a harness until her close up scene.  

Besides Grace Kelly, Vera Miles, Lee Remick, Claire Griswold, Eve Marie Saint and Susan Hampshire were considered for the role of Marnie.

The movie grossed 7 million at the box office in 1964.


  1. Page, this is an awesome review of my third-favorite Hitchcock film (topped only by VERTIGO and REAR WINDOW). Oddly enough, I dismissed it when I first saw it. But now, I see something new each time I watch it. I’m always intrigued by the way Mark watches Marnie, hoping to catch her in a lie that will lead to a better understanding of this unusual woman he has blackmailed into marriage. Mark becomes the predator, observing his quarry intently and sometimes playing with it cruelly. Surprisingly, MARNIE—in its own quiet way—generates suspense worthy of Hitch’s best man-on-the-run films. As for Hedren’s performance, it’s her very detachment that makes Marnie such a vulnerable, intriguing character. I can’t imagine Princess Grace, with her warmth and classic beauty, in the role. It’s really Hedren’s film and is easily her best performance. Love your choice of screen captures from the movie. What a perfect pick for the Hitchcock Blogathon!

  2. Thanks so much for your kind words and insight Rick. This was my first movie review ever but I truly enjoyed it.

  3. OMG, Page, this was really easy to read with all your funny remarks. Well done! My mom liked this movie and told me about it, and it was very good. It was great to see Sean Connery working in a Hitchcock movie, plus all the story is really intriguing (and shocking). My only problem with this movie is not related with the film itself, but with Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren. As you hinted, they didn't get along and she has the most terrible things to say about him. It's sad and shows a negative aspect of the master of suspense.
    Anyway, great film, great review.

  4. Thanks Clara. : ) It's such a dark film with very serious subject matter so I didn't want it to be just another dark take and since I've never reviewed a film before I didn't want to embarrass myself by not giving such an amazing film its due.

  5. I've gotten into dust-ups with fellow film buffs in the past when I state my preference for Marnie as the best of the two films Hitch made with Tippi Hedren but it's true--the movie is really one of the Master's most underrated films with some fascinating sexual themes and the ballsy decision to cast Sean Connery (best known as the "heroic" James Bond) as a guy who, when you get right down to it, is a rapist. Marnie offers the viewer something new with every viewing; I once had the privilege of conversing with Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto about this movie and he told me a funny story about how he got into it with a woman who wanted to take her young child in with her to see it--he emphatically argued that he didn't think the movie was appropriate for someone of that age.

    Okay, I told myself I wouldn't include this with the comment but I'm also one of the biggest Diane Baker fans around. And she's very hot in this movie even though there's every inclination that her character is, shall we say, "playing for the other team." Very nice write-up, Page.

  6. Page, this is one of my favorite articles in our Blogathon. I'm a Marnie fan, but your right-on humor had me laughing out loud. You and I must have similar senses of humor. I can love a movie with all my heart and still write or enjoy a spoof of it. You might be interested in an article I did on a beloved favorite of mine "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir on my blog. Did you ever see Carol Burnette's famous movie spoof "Went With the Wind"? It's right up your alley.

    By the way, I feel kind of bad that I picked out Rebecca before you did, but I hope you liked my post. My mother named me Rebecca because she loved the book. I guess that means I should be gorgeous and evil!

    Wonderful article!

  7. Ohmygosh!!! I think your review is the funniest review I have ever read. You also did a top notch job with the info and all the beautiful pictures. Marnie, maybe another of the "Underrated Hitchcock"s" movies.

  8. Awesome review! I was laughing all the way though. I love your sense of humor and am glad you injected it here. I saw "Marnie" so long ago and never really liked it. However ... I'm going to have to revisit it thanks to you. Although every time Sean Connery appears I'll have "Mr. Creepy" running through my mind :)

  9. A very entertaining piece! Marnie disturbs me quite a bit, but that's merely a testament to Hitchcock's effectiveness as a filmmaker. I would have to disagree with Ivan--for various reasons I won't go into here, I much prefer The Birds to this one in regards to Hedren's collaborations with Hitch. But this film is a treasure trove of sexual and psychological perversion--probably more so than any other film the director ever made--and for that reason alone, I can't help but enjoy it.

  10. Thanks so much for all of your great comments so far! I have to admit that I was nervous about reviewing Marnie then going with a lighter take had me a bit skittish and worried that it wouldn't go over too well...especially with how dark the subject matter was and is.
    I had to inject myself and I know Hitch had a wonderful since of humor.
    Now breathing a sigh of relieve and enjoying all of the other wonderful Hitchcock reviews.

  11. I too have not seen this film in many years and remember not being too fond of it ( I was probably too young to appreciate it at the time) but your review makes me want to revisit it. The stigma of second rate Hitchcock has always clung to this film but isn't second rate Hitchcock better than most others first rate work?

    I never realized how sinister Sean Connery looked in this film until I started l looking at the screen shots!

  12. Page, what a wonderful post. How wonderful? I've never liked "Marnie" but after reading this I want to watch it again. Since Sean Connery is one of my favorite actors, I need to see this again.

    Connery was going to star in Hitchcock's film after "Family Plot", a spy thriller called, I think, "The Short Night". Co-starring Liv Ullmann, it was going to be filmed in Nordic Europe.

    I think Connery liked Hitchcock, giving him a break from 007. At the AFI tribute to Hitchcock, there was a segment where participants got to stand up at their tables and say a few words. Connery was introduced and we could see Hitchcock mouthing, "Who?" A very amused Connery yelled out, "It's me Hitch." I haven't seen that since it was first aired, but I remember that part.

  13. Awesome review, Page. Oddly enough I haven't heard much about this movie. I loved your recap and your hilarious comments. You've gained a new follower!


  14. I'm not a big "Marnie" fan BUT I am a fan of your post. Very funny & nicely done. This is your first review, really? Bravo! Don't know whether you're a "Mad Men" fan or not, but an episode a couple of seasons ago featured an homage to "Marnie" when Betty went for a ride at her stable...clever. Nice work, Page...

  15. I'm happy you enjoyed it Lady Eve, Caroline and Kevin. It's been a fun day with such amazing reviews from a true Hollywood icon. I think Hitchcock would be proud of us today. : )

  16. Page, I agree that this is a tremendously entertaining post, far more so than I recall the movie being. It's been quite a while since I saw it, but I recall finding it too overheated and improbable to be really enjoyable or even take seriously. I think your post captured those qualities, which obviously didn't detract from the movie for you or the many other commenters who like it more than I do.

  17. Love this, I'm going to have to see it again, it's been years.

    I can just see Hitchcock's pudgy fingers manipulating Diane Baker's face like so much PlayDough.

  18. Thanks Claros,
    I'm obviously the furthest thing from a writer or a movie reviewer so I went into the Blogathon a nervous wreck but I decided in the end to write reviews my own way.

    I've read so many serious and well written film reviews that I would never try to compete or add anything thats already been touched upon with regards to Hitch.

  19. Believe me, this is far more entertaining than some dry dissection of a film. There's plenty of that elsewhere.

  20. Page, now that Vinnie and I are die-hard fans of you and MY LOVE OF OLD HOLLYWOOD, we want to go back into your files and read the posts that we missed before joining the wonderful world of blogging. Since writing our new double-feature of DIAL M FOR MURDER and DIAL L FOR LATCH-KEY for TALES OF THE EASILY DISTRACTED for this week, we decided to check out your MARNIE post from the Hitchcock Blogathon. While I think MARNIE has many memorable scenes and performances (too bad things turned bad between Tippi Hedren and Hitchcock afterwards), we wondered if even your daft sense of humor would help us enjoy MARNIE's downbeat source material. Silly us, we needn't have worried! We laughed out loud, as always, yet you still managed to make MARNIE's more poignant aspects shine through. Great job!

  21. Team B,
    This was my first ever snarky photo review and it was right after I joined the CMBA so I was terrified about coming out of the gate with something so off of the wall.

    I love Marnie so I'm glad you were able to enjoy this review. I'm so flattered that Team B is taking the time to go back and visit my earlier posts. I thought the Halloween post and my Scarface, White Zombie reviews are worth a read.

    Thanks so much for being supportive and getting my twisted sense of humor and take on these old films.

  22. Page, we of Team Bartilucci are amazed to hear that your wild-and-crazy MARNIE pictorial blog post was the first of your hilariously snarky photo reviews, because we thought it came off as very assured and professional in the best possible way! I think we've seen your Halloween post, but we're not 100% sure. We beseech you, Page, would you please be so kind as to conveniently provide a link to that Halloween post, so we can get straight to the funny and save the time we'd spend feverishly seeking out older posts? :-) If it's not too much of a nuisance for you, may we also beg and plead for the links to your posts on SCARFACE and WHITE ZOMBIE? Pretty please? Thanks in advance for any help you can provide, and *BRAVA* to you and your fabulously twisted sense of humor! You're our kind of people!