Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
Mark marries Marnie although she is a habitual thief and has serious psychological problems, and tries to help her confront and resolve them.
Starring Tippi Hedren as the title role and Sean Connery has Mark the man who falls in love with her and wants to “cure” her, Marnie is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most psycho sexual Freudian challenges. Lately, I’ve had a conversation with John LaRue of The Droid You’re looking For about Hitch’s misogynist approach to women. As an explanation of this conception of Hitchcock I recalled many elements that may have inclined him to be that way. As John recalled me he mentioned the mommy factor which is omnipresent in the films of Hitchcock.
With Marnie, we rediscover lots of recurring themes of Hitchcock’s obsessions: the cold blond woman stealing from her bosses and escaping (Psycho), the private detective who looks into the past of the woman (Vertigo), the final confrontation with the mother (Psycho again). The character of Mark is very interesting in the fact that he thinks he can cure Marnie, love her, and make her love him back. By forcing their marriage and the consumption of it Mark thinks Marnie will be “normal”. But the simplicity of his interventions can’t pair the deep psychological scars she wears.
While the Freudian analysis are used as plot points it accentuated the flaws of the film and the second half mainly represents the view of Hollywoodian simplicity on psychoanalysis. Hitchcock wanted so much to master the Freud material that he got caught up in his strange film. The setting of the first half and the tension of the opening evokes something that the story doesn’t finally delivers. Hopefully, Hitchcock handles like the master he is the elements aforementioned that he is comfortable with. On the down side, it’s once again the Freudian themes that fails on him just like his other film Spellbound.
Following a masterpiece like The Birds isn’t an easy task. It was even harder since the 1963 film was a genre movie and Marnie felt more on the psycho drama of Hitchcock revisiting is recurrent themes. However, the over atmosphere and feeling around Marnie is pretty unique and far from being a bland film from Hitch it is still one his finest approach to melodrama and the repressed problems of childhood.
On a more gossiping note, it is widely known that after Grace Kelly left the show-business to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco Hitchcock was looking for her replacement because the lady Kelly has been the perfect Hitchcock blond. When he discovered Tippi Hedren, Hitchcock supposedly felt deeply in love with her. She however, repelled him because she wasn’t interested at all. It is also a fact that Hitchcock told the bird trainer that he needed the birds to practically attack Tippi to get the most genuine feeling of fear from her. It was a revenge from Hitchcock who was re known to be a strong practical joker. So the story of Marnie, a woman who repels men and won’t have sex with them otherwise being forced might represent a subconscious desire of Hitchcock after his previous humiliation from his star.
Finally, this lesser appreciated film has somewhat earned its letters of noblesse amongst the Hitchcock enthusiasts including this reviewer. It takes rank number 17 (not intentionally here) in my personal top of Hitch's films I think this is an interesting Hitchcockian melodrama. I recommend this film.