powered by AFI
Marnie Edgar, a young woman who loves only her crippled mother and her horse Forio, and who has a hysterical fear of thunderstorms and bright red colors, is a compulsive thief with a string of successful thefts to her credit. Her method is to obtain a secretarial position, establish a reputation for honesty, diligence, and devotion, and then loot the safe. Changing her name and appearance, Marnie finds a job with publisher Mark Rutland, who falls in love with her. Marnie panics at the thought of an entanglement and rifles the safe, only to be caught by Mark and given the choice of marrying him or going to prison. She chooses marriage, but on the honeymoon her frigidity results in Mark's forcing himself on her, then having to resuscitate her after she attempts suicide. Later, at his family estate, Mark unsuccessfully tries amateur psychiatry on Marnie. The situation reaches its climax when one of her former victims turns up and recognizes her. The next day Marnie goes riding. The sight of a red riding coat so disturbs Marnie that she takes Forio on a wild gallop that results in the horse's death. Distraught, she goes to Mark's office but finds that she cannot bring herself to steal the money for her getaway. Mark follows her and forces her to accompany him to her mother's house in Baltimore. There, during a thunderstorm, Marnie relives the traumatic childhood experience which caused her neuroses. Her mother had been a prostitute whose leg was broken during a thunderstorm by a sailor client in the presence of young Marnie. To protect her mother, Marnie had killed the sailor with a poker blow on the head, producing a shocking flow of blood, and her mother had taken the blame for the crime. Having confronted her fears, Marnie anticipates an improved relationship with Mark.