Marnie (1964)

SPOILER ALERT: As these reviews are of an academic nature, they may contain spoilers. Those that do feature this warning. Future reviews will try to limit spoilers for a public audience, but until then, read at your own risk.


Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1964

Tippi Hedren is a woman with many names. She doesn’t believe in men, only money, but for all her strengths she is helpless when presented by a thunderstorm or the colour red– reminders of a childhood trauma that she herself has forgotten. When she is caught, she is blackmailed into a loveless marriage to a man with more up his sleeve than just sex.

These past several weeks in TVF 462, we’ve been watching a lot of Hitchcock. That might colour my opinion of this film, but I’m not the only one who found it problematic. Even without the infamous rape scene, co-star Sean Connery substitutes menace for intrigue, which is all the more upsetting because the viewer doesn’t understand what he’s after. Connery seems adrift without an action setpiece, and I can’t remember a time when he was less charismatic. Meanwhile, Hitchcock dangles the film’s central mystery far too long. Without any hints along the way, the grand finale is underwhelming.

This isn’t a coincidence: critically acclaimed but a commercial flop, Marnie showcased some of Hitchcock’s worst personal qualities. When Tippi Hedren refused to work with him again in Torn Curtain, Hitchcock attempted to ruin her career. The film itself precipitated the end of Hitchcock’s cultural caché until his retirement and death. Paired with a perpetually gloomy motif, it’s a film I’d not likely revisit in the future. C-