Friday, August 08, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Marnie (1964)

MARNIE is a Hitchcock movie I'd not seen before tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's the engrossing story of a deeply troubled compulsive thief, Marnie (Tippi Hedren), and Mark (Sean Connery), the man who loves her and is determined to help her. Bit by bit Mark uncovers the clues that explain Marnie's bizarre behavior.

It's a compelling, intriguing film, not least because one starts to wonder if dashing Mark, a widower who knowingly marries a disturbed woman, might not be as strange in his own way as Marnie. Marnie's past provides a good mystery, as does Hitchcock's frequent symbolic use of red and yellow. (The meaning of red was obvious, but I'm still trying to figure out the yellow!) The story also has many of the elements of a good romance novel -- poor girl swept off her feet by a devoted millionaire who wants to solve her problems -- and is enjoyable in that regard.

A couple aspects -- such as the artificiality of the horseback riding shots or the painted backdrop depicting the ocean near Marnie's mother's home -- haven't held up that well, although some Hitchcock scholars make the case that those shots fit right in with the rest of the film; was his use of obvious matte paintings deliberate? This is a movie which could enjoyably be rewatched and analyzed extensively on many levels. (Maybe someday I'll figure out the symbolism of the color yellow.)

Connery is at his most handsome and charismatic in this film. DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE had been released over the previous couple years, and his next film was GOLDFINGER. Tippi Hedren, who had appeared in Hitchcock's THE BIRDS in 1963, is excellent in the demanding title role. Hedren and Hitchcock had a falling out making this film so this was the end of their work together.

Diane Baker is striking as Lil, the kid sister of Mark's late first wife. Initially hostile to Marnie, by the end she has perhaps started to understand and sympathize with her new sister-in-law. The excellent supporting cast also includes Martin Gabel, Mariette Hartley, Bruce Dern, Alan Napier, and Louise Latham.

Melody Thomas, who plays Marnie as a child, has starred for three decades on the soap opera THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. The little girl who played Jessie, the neighbor, is Kimberly Beck. She appeared in YOURS, MINE AND OURS (1968) as Janette, the daughter of Lucille Ball's character. She has also continued to act steadily over the years, including starring in the soap opera CAPITOL. She was at one time married to a member of the Hilton family and acted under the name Kimberly Beck-Hilton.

MARNIE runs 130 minutes. It's based on a novel by Winston Graham, who is best-known for his long-running POLDARK series. My oldest daughter has been engrossed in the first seven POLDARK books for most of the summer. (When is the DVD of the British TV version coming?!)

The excellent musical score is identifiable a few notes into the title credits as the work of Bernard Herrmann, who scored several Hitchcock films including VERTIGO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

MARNIE is available on DVD as a single-title release or as part of the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. The DVD print is beautiful, with crisp, sharp colors. The DVD includes an excellent 58-minute documentary with many of the filmmakers, including Hedren, Baker, and Latham.

It has also been released on video.

All in all, MARNIE provides a very entertaining evening's viewing.

6 Comments:

Blogger Ms.Daisy said...

I saw MARNIE when it first came out(givin' away my age, ahem, lol!) and thoroughly enjoyed it...tho, I too, thought the painted backgrounds were a distraction.
I LOVED the Poldark series and would love to read the books...I will look for them now...many thanks for the info, Laura!
In my latest post I reviewed a few current movies to gage the reactions of readers. Tell me what you think?

~Jean

3:38 PM  
Blogger jau said...

Laura, I'm SO glad you finally saw Marnie. I do think it's one of Hitch's best. I've seen it many times and it's always engrossing.

I don't know what the yellow means, either. Let's research that!

I think most studies of Hitchcock's scenic settings indicate that he totally intended whatever we see. In this case, it's all about the surface vs. interior that's at the core of Marnie's character. Even the obviously fake horseback riding fits. Part of the genius of the film is that a view sees and knows what is real or not, and yet we're intricably drawn into the people and the story. Fantastic.

(Now I'll go check out ms.daisy!)

Best-
Anne

7:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hope you enjoy the POLDARK books, Jean! There are a dozen total, but the first seven, which were the basis for POLDARK and POLDARK II on TV, are the best. The first book is ROSS POLDARK.

Thanks for mentioning your movie post -- since I returned to a deluge of work I'm behind on my web cruising. I'll definitely be over to check out the movie reviews, I always enjoy that topic. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Loved reading your thoughts on MARNIE, Anne. I really enjoyed it. (Who couldn't enjoy a Hitchcock movie with the '60s edition of Sean Connery on screen a majority of the time?!) Your thoughts on the settings are very interesting. (According to the DVD documentary, the mechanical horse was borrowed from Walt Disney, a fun detail.)

As soon as I get out from under my work pile I've got to start Googling MARNIE and "yellow." :) I know I'll be watching this one again!

Best wishes,
Laura

12:31 PM  
Blogger Christian H said...

I love that scene when Tippi Hedren is in Sean Connery's office and there is a storm outside. She gets scared and there's an incredibly sensual tight close-up of the two as they kiss. I would say that Marnie is probably just as interesting as the films Hitchcock made just before...

Christian.
classicfilmshow.com

1:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

A postscript, my daughter was able to ask Hitchcock scholar Drew Casper of USC about the color yellow. He says it symbolizes illness.

Best wishes,
Laura

8:19 PM  

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