Marnie


2h 10m 1964
Marnie

Brief Synopsis

A rich man marries a compulsive thief and tries to unlock the secrets of her mind.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Jul 1964
Production Company
Geoffrey Stanley, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Marnie by Winston Graham (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

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.

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Movie Clip

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Hosted Intro

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Thriller
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Jul 1964
Production Company
Geoffrey Stanley, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Marnie by Winston Graham (London, 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 10m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Marnie


The story of a cool, calculated professional woman who embezzles from her employer then relocates to some distant town where she repeats her crimes under an assumed identity, Marnie (1964) is unlike almost any other Alfred Hitchcock film with the possible exception of Vertigo (1958). Like the latter film, the blonde heroine (Tippi Hedren) becomes an obsession for one of her male victims - Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) - whose behavior is as peculiar as her own. Instead of turning her over to the police once he apprehends her, Mark forces her to marry him, partly in an effort to understand her compulsive need to steal and partly because he's sexually aroused by this beautiful but frigid kleptomaniac. As the relationship between Mark and Marnie progresses from jailer/prisoner to something deeper and more complex, Hitchcock's film refuses to conform to genre expectations. Is Marnie a perverse love story, a psychological thriller or a clinical case study? Certainly it's all of these things, but it's also one of Hitchcock's most personal films, mirroring his own off-screen obsession with the film's star, Tippi Hedren.

Working from a novel by Winston Graham, Hitchcock first hired Evan Hunter to develop the screenplay for Marnie in close collaboration with him and his cinematographer Robert Burks. According to Donald Spoto in The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, the director described to Hunter and Burks "every shot of the first half of the film, the interior and exterior locations, the props, the spatial relationships between characters - and, in greatest detail, the physical, costumed appearance of the title character." "We go to close-up," he said, "to show her hair blowing in the wind while she's riding the horse - that's a leitmotiv that goes through the film." Hitchcock's detailed storyboards and pre-planned camera set-ups prior to production were legend but so was his intractable attitude about certain scenes and Hunter soon found himself clashing with the director over a controversial sequence - one where Mark rapes his wife on their wedding night. Hunter was disturbed by the scene and argued that it would destroy all sympathy for the male character but Hitchcock, who didn't like to have his judgment questioned, soon parted company with Hunter and replaced him with Jay Presson Allen, a relatively unknown playwright and screenwriter who had just scored a critical success with her play, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Allen later recalled, "I think he wanted a woman's point of view on Marnie and that's why he asked me....Hitch was a very Edwardian fellow. He put lids on himself. To work out his repressions, he created a framework - his art. It was his way of legitimizing everything and transforming his feelings and repressions into something creative."

From the beginning, there was little question that anyone other than Ms. Hedren would play Marnie (There was some brief interest in Claire Griswold, the wife of director Sydney Pollack, but she turned down all acting jobs to become a fulltime mother). Hitchcock had initially discovered Hedren in a Sego (a diet drink) television ad which led to her debut in his previous 1963 film, The Birds and it was obvious he was grooming her to be a star on the order of Grace Kelly. At the same time, his interest in her became obsessive and all-controlling. He started sending champagne to her dressing room at the end of each day. He began proclaiming her "his ultimate actress, the one he had waited decades to direct, and that she was giving the finest performance in any of his films" (Donald Spoto, The Dark Side of Genius). He even revealed a recurring dream he had to Hedren where she came up to him and said, "Hitch, I love you - I'll always love you." When she heard this, she replied "But it was a dream. Just a dream," and excused herself from his presence. The situation eventually turned ugly and it was rumored that Hitchcock made an overt sexual proposition to Hedren when he was alone with her. The actress was appalled and humiliated and, according to biographer Spoto, after that "he refused to address Tippi Hedren personally. He never even uttered her name, referring only to "that girl." His directions on the set were given through assistants, and her questions had to be relayed to him by an equally circuitous route. From that day forth he also lost all interest in Marnie."

When Marnie opened theatrically, most critics were negative in their reviews. While many had been divided on his previous feature, The Birds, almost everyone complained about Tippi Hedren's acting abilities, the use of rear-screen projection, the artificial, painted sets, the general lack of suspense, and the simplistic resolution of the heroine's psychological problems at the fadeout. A typical reaction was this excerpt from The New York Times review which called it "the master's most disappointing film in years...not only is Marnie burdened with the most glaringly fake cardboard backdrops since Salvador Dali designed the dream sequence for Spellbound (1945), but the timing of key suspense scenes is sadly askew." It wasn't until recent years that critical consensus has changed toward Marnie. Now, many Hitchcock admirers feel it is one of his strongest films, a genuine work of art that tackles disturbing themes in an experimental fashion. His use of rear-screen projection is now defended as an inspired creative decision that reflects the unreal nature of Marnie's world and Tippi Hedren's performance is likewise highly regarded as one of the finest female portrayals in any Hitchcock film. One thing is certain. Marnie is unique for being the last of its kind. It was the last Hitchcock film to feature a blonde heroine, the last to feature a music score by frequent collaborator Bernard Herrmann, and the last time Hitchcock would work with cinematographer Robert Burks.

Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Jay Presson Allen, based on the novel by Winston Graham
Art Direction: George Milo Cinematography: Robert Burks
Editing: George Tomasini
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: Tippi Hedren (Marnie Edgar), Sean Connery (Mark Rutland), Diane Baker (Lil Mainwaring), Martin Gabel (Sidney Strutt), Louise Latham (Bernice Edgar), Bob Sweeney (Cousin Bob), Alan Napier (Mr. Rutland), Mariette Hartley (Susan Clabon), Bruce Dern (Sailor).
C-131m. Letterboxed.

by Jeff Stafford
Marnie

Marnie

The story of a cool, calculated professional woman who embezzles from her employer then relocates to some distant town where she repeats her crimes under an assumed identity, Marnie (1964) is unlike almost any other Alfred Hitchcock film with the possible exception of Vertigo (1958). Like the latter film, the blonde heroine (Tippi Hedren) becomes an obsession for one of her male victims - Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) - whose behavior is as peculiar as her own. Instead of turning her over to the police once he apprehends her, Mark forces her to marry him, partly in an effort to understand her compulsive need to steal and partly because he's sexually aroused by this beautiful but frigid kleptomaniac. As the relationship between Mark and Marnie progresses from jailer/prisoner to something deeper and more complex, Hitchcock's film refuses to conform to genre expectations. Is Marnie a perverse love story, a psychological thriller or a clinical case study? Certainly it's all of these things, but it's also one of Hitchcock's most personal films, mirroring his own off-screen obsession with the film's star, Tippi Hedren. Working from a novel by Winston Graham, Hitchcock first hired Evan Hunter to develop the screenplay for Marnie in close collaboration with him and his cinematographer Robert Burks. According to Donald Spoto in The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, the director described to Hunter and Burks "every shot of the first half of the film, the interior and exterior locations, the props, the spatial relationships between characters - and, in greatest detail, the physical, costumed appearance of the title character." "We go to close-up," he said, "to show her hair blowing in the wind while she's riding the horse - that's a leitmotiv that goes through the film." Hitchcock's detailed storyboards and pre-planned camera set-ups prior to production were legend but so was his intractable attitude about certain scenes and Hunter soon found himself clashing with the director over a controversial sequence - one where Mark rapes his wife on their wedding night. Hunter was disturbed by the scene and argued that it would destroy all sympathy for the male character but Hitchcock, who didn't like to have his judgment questioned, soon parted company with Hunter and replaced him with Jay Presson Allen, a relatively unknown playwright and screenwriter who had just scored a critical success with her play, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Allen later recalled, "I think he wanted a woman's point of view on Marnie and that's why he asked me....Hitch was a very Edwardian fellow. He put lids on himself. To work out his repressions, he created a framework - his art. It was his way of legitimizing everything and transforming his feelings and repressions into something creative." From the beginning, there was little question that anyone other than Ms. Hedren would play Marnie (There was some brief interest in Claire Griswold, the wife of director Sydney Pollack, but she turned down all acting jobs to become a fulltime mother). Hitchcock had initially discovered Hedren in a Sego (a diet drink) television ad which led to her debut in his previous 1963 film, The Birds and it was obvious he was grooming her to be a star on the order of Grace Kelly. At the same time, his interest in her became obsessive and all-controlling. He started sending champagne to her dressing room at the end of each day. He began proclaiming her "his ultimate actress, the one he had waited decades to direct, and that she was giving the finest performance in any of his films" (Donald Spoto, The Dark Side of Genius). He even revealed a recurring dream he had to Hedren where she came up to him and said, "Hitch, I love you - I'll always love you." When she heard this, she replied "But it was a dream. Just a dream," and excused herself from his presence. The situation eventually turned ugly and it was rumored that Hitchcock made an overt sexual proposition to Hedren when he was alone with her. The actress was appalled and humiliated and, according to biographer Spoto, after that "he refused to address Tippi Hedren personally. He never even uttered her name, referring only to "that girl." His directions on the set were given through assistants, and her questions had to be relayed to him by an equally circuitous route. From that day forth he also lost all interest in Marnie." When Marnie opened theatrically, most critics were negative in their reviews. While many had been divided on his previous feature, The Birds, almost everyone complained about Tippi Hedren's acting abilities, the use of rear-screen projection, the artificial, painted sets, the general lack of suspense, and the simplistic resolution of the heroine's psychological problems at the fadeout. A typical reaction was this excerpt from The New York Times review which called it "the master's most disappointing film in years...not only is Marnie burdened with the most glaringly fake cardboard backdrops since Salvador Dali designed the dream sequence for Spellbound (1945), but the timing of key suspense scenes is sadly askew." It wasn't until recent years that critical consensus has changed toward Marnie. Now, many Hitchcock admirers feel it is one of his strongest films, a genuine work of art that tackles disturbing themes in an experimental fashion. His use of rear-screen projection is now defended as an inspired creative decision that reflects the unreal nature of Marnie's world and Tippi Hedren's performance is likewise highly regarded as one of the finest female portrayals in any Hitchcock film. One thing is certain. Marnie is unique for being the last of its kind. It was the last Hitchcock film to feature a blonde heroine, the last to feature a music score by frequent collaborator Bernard Herrmann, and the last time Hitchcock would work with cinematographer Robert Burks. Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Jay Presson Allen, based on the novel by Winston Graham Art Direction: George Milo Cinematography: Robert Burks Editing: George Tomasini Music: Bernard Herrmann Cast: Tippi Hedren (Marnie Edgar), Sean Connery (Mark Rutland), Diane Baker (Lil Mainwaring), Martin Gabel (Sidney Strutt), Louise Latham (Bernice Edgar), Bob Sweeney (Cousin Bob), Alan Napier (Mr. Rutland), Mariette Hartley (Susan Clabon), Bruce Dern (Sailor). C-131m. Letterboxed. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

You don't love me. I'm just something you've caught. Some kind of wild animal you've trapped!
- Marnie Edgar
Atlantic City opens for races at the end of the month. We could drive out there next Saturday...
- Mark Rutland
Alright. Are you fond of horses?
- Marnie Edgar
No, not at all.
- Mark Rutland
Well why didn't you jump over the side?
- Mark Rutland
The idea was to kill myself -- not feed the damn fish.
- Marnie Edgar
How do you take your tea, Miss Taylor?
- Lil Mainwaring
Usually with a cup of hot water and a tea bag.
- Marnie Edgar
Before I was drafted into Rutland's Miss Taylor, I had notions of being a zoologist. I still try to keep up with my field.
- Mark Rutland
Zoos?
- Marnie Edgar
Instinctual behavior.
- Mark Rutland
A lady's instinct too?
- Marnie Edgar

Trivia

5 minutes into the film, in the hotel corridor as Marnie walks by.

Hitchcock wanted 'Kelly, Grace' to make her screen comeback in the title role, but the people of Monaco were not happy with the idea of their princess playing a compulsive thief.

The production company created for the film, "Geoffrey Stanley" was named after Hitchcock's pet dogs.

After rehearsing just a few scenes with co-star Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren asked "Marnie is supposed to be frigid - have you seen him?" referring to the young Connery. Director 'Hitchcock, Alfred' 's reply was reportedly "Yes, my dear, it's called acting."

Hitchcock and Hedren had a major falling out during the filming and there was a rumor that by the end he directed her through intermediaries. Although Hedren admits the she and Hitchcock's friendship ended during shooting, she denies the rumor that he didn't finish directing the film.

Bruce Dern can be seen briefly as the sailor in Marnie's flashback.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States June 1999

Released in United States Summer July 22, 1964

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Shown at Nantucket Film Festival (Special Tribute Screening) June 14-19, 1999.

Sean Connery makes his American film debut.

Re-released in Paris October 10, 1990.

Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995

Released in United States June 1999 (Shown at Nantucket Film Festival (Special Tribute Screening) June 14-19, 1999.)

Released in United States Summer July 22, 1964