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Marnie

Original film poster for Marnie
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)
Written by Novel:
Winston Graham
Screenplay:
Jay Presson Allen
Starring Tippi Hedren
Sean Connery
Diane Baker
Martin Gabel
Mariette Hartley
Louise Latham
Bob Sweeney
Bruce Dern
Alan Napier
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Robert Burks
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) July 22, 1964
Running time 130 min.
Language English
Budget US$2,135,161

Marnie (1964) is a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the novel of the same name by Winston Graham. The film stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery. The original film score was composed by Bernard Herrmann.

Contents

Plot

Mark and Marnie on their honeymoon cruise.

Marnie Edgar (Hedren) is a troubled young woman who has an unnatural fear and mistrust of men, thunderstorms, and the color red. She is also a compulsive thief. She uses her charms on Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel) to get a job without references. Then late one night, she steals the contents of the company safe and disappears.

Mark Rutland (Connery), a widower who owns a large printing company, is a good customer of Strutt's. He learns about the theft from the victim, and remembers the woman. So when Marnie applies for a job at his company, he is intrigued. He is robbed too, but unlike Strutt, Mark manages to track Marnie down. Instead of handing her over to the police, he blackmails her into marrying him.

On their honeymoon, a pacific cruise, he finds out about her frigidity. At first, he respects her wishes, but her undisguised hostility toward him incites Mark to rape her and consummate their marriage. (In certain syndicated broadcastings of the film, the rape scene is censored, making the sexual encounter more ambiguous.) The next morning she tries to commit suicide by drowning herself in the cruise ship's swimming pool, but Mark rescues her in time.

He attempts to discover the reasons behind Marnie's behavior. In the end, Marnie and Mark learn that her mother, Bernice (Louise Latham), had been a prostitute. When Marnie was six years old, one of her mother's clients (a sailor played by Bruce Dern) had tried to calm her after she became frightened by a storm. The mother thought he was trying to molest her daughter and began attacking him. Seeing her mother struggling with the man, Marnie struck him with a fireplace poker, killing him. The bloodshed led to her distrust of men and fear of the color red. Once the origin of her fears is revealed, Marnie decides she wants to try to make her marriage work.

Cast

Alfred Hitchcock's cameo is a signature occurrence in most of his films. He can be seen five minutes into the film, entering from the left of a hotel corridor after Marnie passes by.

Responses

The movie was not as successful in theatres as other Hitchcock productions, although it did turn a profit in the UK and Italy.

Leonard Maltin has argued that Marnie was ahead of its time, while in his biography The Dark Side of Genius, Donald Spoto describes it as Hitchcock's last masterpiece.

The film's special effects are often criticized as unconvincing, with critics noting such things as obvious matte paintings and back projection. However, in a making-of documentary on the DVD, Robin Wood, author of Hitchcock's Films Revisited, argues that they can be defended if one notes the roots of the film in German Expressionism:

[Hitchcock] worked in German studios at first, in the silent period. Very early on when he started making films, he saw Fritz Lang's German silent movies; he was enormously influenced by that, and Marnie is basically an expressionist film in many ways. Things like scarlet suffusions over the screen, back-projection and backdrops, artificial-looking thunderstorms—these are expressionist devices and one has to accept them. If one doesn't accept them then one doesn't understand and can't possibly like Hitchcock.

Production

In 1961, Alfred Hitchcock privately offered the title role to Grace Kelly, by then Princess Grace of Monaco, and she agreed. However, the citizens of Monaco objected to her appearing in a film, especially as a disturbed kleptomaniac. Also, when Kelly married Prince Rainier in 1956, she had not fulfilled her MGM contract; thus MGM could have prevented her appearance in any feature film unless she fulfilled her contract to MGM first. So Kelly regretfully turned down the film, and Hitchcock put aside Marnie to work on The Birds (1963).

After completing The Birds, Hitchcock returned to the Winston Graham adaptation, and the role of Marnie became a sought-after role in Hollywood. In his book Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, Tony Lee Moral revealed that a studio executive at Paramount Pictures suggested actress Lee Remick to Hitchcock for the title role. Eva Marie Saint, star of Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959), and Susan Hampshire unsuccessfully pursued the role. Hitchcock also considered two other actresses who were, like Hedren, under personal contract to him, Vera Miles and Claire Griswold, wife of director/actor Sydney Pollack.

Hitchcock had discovered Tippi Hedren in a television commercial for diet drink Sego (shown during the Today show in 1961) and signed her to a personal contract. He trained her, including screen tests filmed with actor Martin Balsam, and then cast her in The Birds (1963). He offered her the role during filming of The Birds. Hedren told writer Moral that she was "amazed" that Hitchcock would offer her this "incredible role", calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity". In 2005, more than 40 years after the film's release, she declared in an interview that Marnie is the favorite of her two films for Hitchcock, because of the intriguing, complex, challenging character that she played.[1]

Marnie continues to have its admirers, as actress Catherine Deneuve indicated that she would have loved to have played Marnie.[2] Actress Naomi Watts dressed up as Hedren's Marnie for the March 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine.[3]

Future soap opera actress Melody Thomas played the uncredited role of Marnie as a child in the flashbacks.

Sean Connery had been worried that his being under contract to Eon Productions for both James Bond and non-Bond films would limit his career, and turned down every non-Bond film Eon offered him. When asked what he wanted to do, Connery replied that he wanted to work with Alfred Hitchcock, which Eon arranged through their contacts.[4] Connery also shocked many people at the time by asking to see a script; some regarded that as an affront to Hitchcock. But Connery was worried about being typecast as a spy and he did not want to do a variation of North by Northwest or Notorious. When told by Hitchcock's agent that Cary Grant did not ask to see even one of Hitchcock's scripts Connery replied, "I'm not Cary Grant."[5] However, Hitchcock and Connery got on well during filming. Connery also said that he was happy with the film, "with certain reservations."[6]

Marnie became a milestone for several reasons. It was the last time that a "Hitchcock blonde" would have a central role in his films. It was also the final time that he would work with his key team members, who had figured so prominently in his films: director of photography Robert Burks who died in 1968; editor George Tomasini, who died soon after Marnie's release; and music composer Bernard Herrmann, who was fired during Hitchcock's next film, Torn Curtain (1966), when Hitchcock and Universal studio executives wanted a more contemporary "pop" tune for the film. Also, Hitchcock had noticed a strong similarity between Herrmann's score for Joy in the Morning and Marnie and believed Herrmann was repeating himself.[7] Herrmann's music for Marnie included excerpts in his special album for Decca Records. Also, lyrics were written to Herrmann's theme that were to be sung by Nat King Cole.

In a making-of documentary on the DVD release, unit manager Hilton A. Green explains that shooting had been scheduled to begin on November 25, 1963, but had to be postponed because the nation was in mourning for John F. Kennedy, who had been shot three days before.

Although they played daughter and mother, Hedren (34) was only eight years younger than Latham (42).

Play adaptation

In 2001, Sean O'Connor adapted Marnie to the stage and reverted the setting back to England, as it was in the Winston Graham novel that the film was originally based on.[8]

In popular culture

  • The band The Violets released a single titled "Foreo" in February 2007; the title refers to Marnie's horse. (Although the song refers to Marnie, the music video contains images inspired by the opening credits to Vertigo).[9]

References

  1. ^ Leon Worden. "SCV NEWSMAKER OF THE WEEK: Tippi Hedren". Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. http://www.scvhistory.com/scvhistory/signal/newsmaker/sg030605.htm. Retrieved 2005-03-05.  
  2. ^ Andrew, Geoff (September 21, 2005). "Catherine Deneuve". Guardian. http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,,1577158,00.html.  
  3. ^ Vanity Fair photograph
  4. ^ Broccoli, Albert R.; Zec, Donald. When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli. Trans-Atlantic Publications 1999
  5. ^ "Canny Scot". Time. January 10, 1964. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875552,00.html?promoid=googlep.  
  6. ^ "PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: SEAN CONNERY". Playboy magazine. November 1965. http://seanconneryonline.com/art_playboy1165.htm.  
  7. ^ Smith, Steven C. A Heart at Fire's Centre: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann. University of California Press, 1991, p. 268
  8. ^ Gardner, Lyn (January 24, 2001). "Marnie". The Guardian. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/reviews/story/0,,699345,00.html.  
  9. ^ Kharas, Kev (February 12, 2007). "Our reviews". www.drownedinsound.com. http://www.drownedinsound.com/release/view/9119.  

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