I’m going to be real with you; Marnie disappointed me. When I found out about it, I saw that Hitchcock directed Sean Connery, well I had to see it. I’m still glad I saw it so now I know what it is, but if I had actually had to pay money for it I probably wouldn’t feel that way. Adding to that frustration is that I really think this could have been a much better movie, maybe even a great one.

Marnie (Tippi Hedron) is a thief (or klepto, whichever you want to go with). She has just stolen money from her employer and is bringing it to her mother (Louise Latham). She dies her hair to change her appearance, and swaps out her ID for another one from her stash. She gets to her mother’s house and sees red flowers that her mother has and freaks out. She changes them at once for white flowers. This happens throughout the film whenever Marnie sees the color red, and Hitchcock has a flash of red come across the screen every time for emphasis.

Her mother is babysitting a girl named Jessie, and she seems to have more love for her than she does for Marnie. Her mother won’t admit it, but both Jessie and Marnie can tell this is true, and Jessie rubs in it her face. There is a lot of talk about being “decent,” in this scene, but the exact nature of the decency is not explicitly told. Marnie gets the impression that her mother disapproves of her, and she doesn’t even know that Marnie is a thief. It is obvious that Marnie really wants her mother’s approval and her mother, for whatever reason, won’t give it to her.

Marnie (1964)

After this, Marnie changes her hair again (I honestly could not keep track of how many times this happened) and gets a new job under a new name, which intentions to rob this place as well. She seems to be getting away with it, until the boss Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) catches her. Of course, because this is a movie, he falls in love with her. She “likes” him, but admits she does not love him. In fact, she seems unable to love any man and doesn’t want anybody to “handle” her. This doesn’t stop Mark however, who blackmails her into marrying him. He threatens to expose her previous thefts, which he has since investigated and knows everything about. Mark marries her because he wants to save her from everything she’s scared of (which is a lot of stuff: lightning, the color red, men, sex, going to jail…), and also so he can figure out why she is the way she is. He calls that love, but I’m not sure if I agree.

Most of the movie is Marnie freaking out over various things, and then Mark going into psychoanalysis mode to figure it out. By the end, everything is tied up in a nice little bow and there is no ambiguity whatsoever. Until then, and after really, you can get into a ton of femininist criticism which is good if that’s what you’re in to. The way Mark treats Marnie, while still meaning to help her, is pretty degrading. He compares her to animals repeatedly, and he cannot imagine her simply not wanting to have sex with him. He blackmails her into marrying him, and can’t accept that? Come on now. He immediately jumps to psychological issues, and the annoying thing about this is that he turns out to be right.

While there is plenty to analyze in this film, the film did not keep me interested enough to want to. Most of this was due to Tippi Hedron’s acting, which I did not care for. I don’t want to be mean and come out and say that she sucked, but I’m going to anyway. She sucked. Her facial expressions were almost nonexistent, and the same goes for any diversity in her line deliveries. Other than the pitch of her voice, all of her lines were just flat and unemotional. I think it was mainly her acting, or lack thereof, that led me to actually like Mark more than I should have. Sean Connery wasn’t fantastic in this film, he was fine but not great. That said, he was about a bazillion times better than Tippi Hedron. I sympathized with him way more than I should have given all of the crap his character was pulling. I just felt bad that he had to deal with that chick.


I will say that Tippi Hedron had a couple good scenes. The best was one of her scenes with Mark where she mocks him for his psychoanalytic ways. “You Freud, me Jane?” She actually had some spirit in her voice and got me rooting for her at that point. She expressed a great contempt of Mark that she should have made of feel for the whole film. It didn’t last long though unfortunately. The rest of the scenes I enjoyed were in the “it’s so bad it’s good category,” but this one was actually good.

One good thing came out of watching Marnie, though. Marnie marks the first time in all of my Hitchcock viewing (11 films now) that I organically noticed his cameo. Nobody pointed it out to me, I didn’t look it up ahead of time, I just saw it. It was wonderful. SPOILER ALERT he was walking out of a door in the beginning, probably telling the audience that’s what they should have done. I actually have no idea if Hitchcock liked this film or not, but in my opinion it is not up to his usual standards. The tension and the suspense that Hitch is so known for creating is absent in Marnie, and the acting is not enough to make up for it (or it could be what was stopping it in the first place). I wasn’t bored, but I definitely wasn’t riveted either. I did have some knowledge of the plot beforehand, but that shouldn’t matter. The second time I watched Vertigo, for example, was just as intense as the first. Good movies can stand up to this sort of thing.

Marnie is something I would normally devour. I would gasp and analyze the whole way through and love every minute of it. The acting really held it back, and also the absence of The Master of Suspense’s… suspense. After while, it just became a film I wanted to get through for the sake of getting through it, not because I was invested very much in what was going on. If you like this film, more power to ya. I almost wished I had enjoyed it more, Alfred Hitchcock and Sean Connery, what a combination. Why did they have to invite Hedron too?


“I always thought a girl’s best friend was her mother!”

No joke. This was an actual line, and I’m pretty sure no one thinks that.

Long story short: 2/4 stars

7 responses to “Marnie

  1. As hard as I try to like this movie, I just can’t. Marnie just has all the wrong things going for it from the score to the story and acting.

    • Yeah… I tried to be nice about it, but I think I completely failed. I didn’t like the movie much either. The biggest problem for me was definitely Tippi Hedron’s non-acting, but certain character aspects were not handled well either in my opinion. When I was removed from the film, I realized that I should have hated Sean Connery’s character a lot more than I did. They tried to make him a hero (not completely but somewhat) when really he was a lot more like a villain.
      The score I didn’t actually notice that much… yeah just looked it up and it was Bernard Herrman, Hitchcock uses him a lot. Off the top of my head I know he did Psycho and Vertigo and those were great. I’m guessing that his dramatic style probably doesn’t fit with the bad acting of Marnie too well….
      I’m glad to hear that people don’t hate me for throwing a Hitchcock under the bus! Though I tried, I just couldn’t get behind this film at all.

    • Yeah… I don’t blame you for still wanting to watch it. Usually when I find out about a film like this (with famous people but that I’ve never heard of before), I’m a bit weary. With all the big names in this film, you’d think it’d be more famous than it is, so I was worried it wouldn’t be that good. So yeah. But even though I didn’t like it, I’m still glad I saw it. I’ve seen worse films; I got all the way through this one. I wasn’t bored, I just wasn’t entranced either. Disappointing, especially considering that it’s Hitchcock with Sean Connery.

  2. “I don’t want to be mean and come out and say that she sucked, but I’m going to anyway. She sucked.” That line made me grin.

    Great review, Hunter. I haven’t seen this one, but I’ve had it on my watchlist for the same reasons as you. Too bad it disappointed you… Hitchcock and Connery should have been a great team.

    • I try to be as nice as possible, but it was really hard for me with Hedron’s acting. Was not a big fan.
      I know right? I found out that it was Hitch and Connery and I watched it the same night!
      According to wikipedia, Connery wanted to do something that was not James Bond so he wouldn’t get typecast for the rest of his life, and he really wanted to work with Hitchcock so Eon let him. He threatened not to anymore Bond movies, I think that’s what it was. That said, I think the Hitchcock/Connery combination would have worked so much better if it was MORE James Bond, or even if Connery was the main character… Like if he was in something that was more like North by Northwest. But that’s exactly what Connery and probably Hitchcock as well didn’t want to do…. Don’t blame them for wanting to mix it up, but compared to this film it probably would have been better to play it safe.
      I still think Hedron’s to blame here, though.

  3. Reblogged this on moxie supper and commented:
    Right now, I’m searching to understand possibilities for the “decent” meals of “men” my mother (I’ll be 61 on Friday) wants me to “eat” exclusively, and this post is pointing me in a “decent” direction! –thank you for posting this… When “decent” request entered my mind, first thing I thought of was “Marnie” of course!

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