Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Jay Presson Allen
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography: Robert Burks
S. John Launer
It was supposedly a comeback vehicle for Grace Kelly, instead it became Tippi Hedren’s follow-up after her star-turning debut in THE BIRDS (1963), MARNIE is unwieldily posited as a less influential psychiatric drama amidst Hitchcock’s copious oeuvre.
Marnie (Hedren). an incorrigible thief and a gorgeous blonde, she applies for the secretary in a firm, then patiently awaits an opportunity to acquire the key to the room where safe is situated and the combination of safe codes, steals the cash and absconds. Thus as a thief, Marnie is a lone she-wolf, self-reliant, cannot tolerate to be handled by man, but as we can easily forecast, it is not a very promising vocation for her since her larcenous skill is rather rudimentary and unsustainable in a long run. Moreover, she is entrenched in her own past trauma, descends into a damsel-in-distress, waiting to be rescued by an omnipotent man, a young and wealthy entrepreneur-cum-widower Mark Rutland (Connery), whose company she is currently working in, after being meshed into a hasty marriage, Marnie’s frigidity takes its toll and prompts Mark to scrutinise into Marnie’s troubled memory of her childhood and the eccentric relation between Marnie and her mother Bernice (Latham).
Almost Inclusively tracking the story from a female’s perspective, more than ever, the film’s whiff of male chauvinism is too intimidating to identify with, the original source of Marnie’s downfall derives from a wicked man’s inappropriate behaviour, yet the ultimate messiah is also a man, an impeccable lover who is all respectful to her unreasonable tantrum and never has one single moment of giving her up. The writers are maximally fantasising a world is all too perfect from a pure macho view.
Technically, MARNIE continues to showcase Hitchcock’s potency in cinematic composure, the most indelible case is the masterful diptych shot divided by a wall when Marnie is studiously in the heat of her bold thievery, simultaneously at the other side of the wall, a cleaner lady is mopping the floor towards the foreground, this scene gives spectators the immediacy of the danger while our heroine is deceptively unknown of, what a master of suspense! From the tentative indications of gladiolus and red ink to the dramatic implementation of the splashes of crimson, viewers are involuntarily diverted into Marnie’s unsaid past, only the revelation arrives belatedly after a two-hour tepid melodrama, the satisfaction becomes underwhelming.
Nevertheless, Tippi Hedren is astonishingly compelling as Marnie, perhaps the most compound heroine among Hitchcock’s cluster of blondes, although she never break free of the victim typecast, Hedren is fearless, inputs her integrity all through the wayward contexts of Marnie’s plight. The square-jawed Connery, against his Scottish origin, plays an American scion with not-unpleasant hubris, swanks with his sex appeal and larger-than-life kindheartedness, “It’s horrible I know, but I do love you”, sounds surreal as well as irresistible. Diane Baker, sports a young Audrey Hepburn flair, is fiercely prominent as Mark’s sister-in-law, but Hitchcock chooses not to intensify her duty with more venom to secrete.
Unyieldingly heightened by Bernard Herrmann’s overpowering score, MARNIE is an accomplished drama with an enticing twist, but certainly fades into the background along with Hitchcock’s more esteemed paragons, having said that, it contains probably the most intrepid female performance ever among his cannon, which is also quite something to boost about not just judging on its own merits.