Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


I have finally gone back to MARNIE which I had not re-seen since its release in 1964, when it was rather under-appreciated to say the least. I was 18 then and remember not being too impressed myself then. Now of course Hitchcock has never been more in vogue what with VERTIGO made number one in the "Sight & Sound" poll last year, and re-views (reviews here at Hitchcock label) of the Hitch classics like PSYCHO, THE BIRDS and less-successful but interesting TOPAZ. The BFI also had that Hitchcock summer showing all the 52 features. The Hitch classics are always on view here .... THE BIRDS gets a primetime showing again this weekend, followed by PSYCHO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST is a regular visitor. Now of course we have those 2 films about Hitch - the disappointing THE GIRL on the Tippi Hedren films, and HITCHCOCK which is about the making of PSYCHO and opens here next week .... so, who is the better Hitch? Anthony Hopkins or Toby Jones - neither as far as I can see capture the essence of Hitch at all.  But anyway, MARNIE ...

Marnie Edgar is a habitual liar and a thief who gets jobs as a secretary and after a few months robs the firms in question, usually of several thousand dollars. When she gets a job at Rutland's, she also catches the eye of the handsome owner, Mark Rutland. He prevents her from stealing and running off, as is her usual pattern, but also forces her to marry him. Their honeymoon is a disaster and she cannot stand to have a man touch her and on their return home, Mark has a private detective look into her past. When he has the details of what happened in her childhood to make her what she is, he arranges a confrontation with her mother realizing that reliving the terrible events that occurred in her childhood and bringing out those repressed memories is the only way to save her ....

MARNIE initially seems very clunky in parts and the obvious back projections (the horse-riding, the street in Baltimore where Marnie's mother lives) jar, but IT WORKS - it does get very emotional at the climax as Marnie's mother finally comes clean about what really happened when young Bruce Dern as the sailor turns up that night when Marnie was five years old, and why Marnie cannot bear the colour red ... Connery as Mark Rutland is fascinatingly complex too, and Diane Baker as ever registers strongly - like Suzanne Pleshette in a similar role in THE BIRDS. Martin Gabel as Strutt, one of Marnie's earlier victims, is just right too, describing her to the police after that initial robbery. Not a major Hitchcock then, there is little suspense (apart from that safe robbery) or thrills.
It is though Tippi Hendren's film, she turns in an astounding performance, despite - if reports are true - being harrassed by Hitch at the time. MARNIE has a nice old fashioned look, that early-'60s studiobound look before the New Hollywood took over.  Bernard Hermann's score is again essential; Edith Head dresses Tippi, and script is by Jay Presson Allen from a Winston Graham novel - this was meant to be Grace Kelly's return to cinema, I wonder how Grace would have handled it? MARNIE will always divide critics (there are 166 reviews of it at IMDB), but I definitely want to see it again before another 49 years passes between viewings!  Maybe now I can finally watch Hitch's next one TORN CURTAIN which I never had any desire to see, and also go back to that problematic FRENZY ... meanwhile its TOPAZ and THE BIRDS again, which really does seem to have a life of its own.


  1. For me Marnie is a film which shows Hitchcock was losing touch. The Birds was edgy and remains so today but Marnie looks simplistic when you compare it with what the Nouvelle Vague French filmmakers and Italian filmmakers like Antonioni and Fellini and Visconti were doing at the time. But then he was in his 60s but Hitch wasn't interested in doing creative stuff anymore. The Birds must have drained all of his desires for experimental filmmaking.

  2. I quite agree with you, it is an older man's film, just like those Billy Wilders after his great period up to SOME LIKE HOT and THE APARTMENT - there is a definite tailing off after that, same with Hitch - those transitions here when Marnie sees red seem clumsy and the psychology of her behavious is simplistic to say the least, but it keeps one watching. For me though THE BIRDS was Hitch's last masterpiece.