The Flick Buddies theme for July is Hitchcock.  Steve chose Marnie.

I consider myself a bit of an Alfred Hitchcock fan, but I had never heard of Marnie before Steve selected it for Flick Buddies. However, the prospect of a young Sean Connery coupled with a “suspenseful sex mystery” had me primed for an enjoyable film-watching experience!

And I did have lots of fun watching this movie. But that’s mostly because I watched it with Kelly at her apartment.

I love a yellow bag.

I loved the opening scenes of this film. The image of ‘Tippi’ Hedren (single quotes at Hitchcock’s own insistence) walking along a train platform with a yellow clutch bulging with cash and black hair sticks with you. Scenes of packing and switching out Social Security cards follow. You’re hooked immediately.

I was enjoying the film a great deal, right up until Marnie’s mum makes an appearance. I’m not sure what’s going on with her accent, but it’s horrible. I don’t think it occurs naturally anywhere within the continental United States. It definitely doesn’t remind me of Baltimore.

Marnie's Baltimore
Good morning, Baltimore!

In addition to her thieving ways, Marnie also has a big problem with the color red. This isn’t really a spoiler, as Hitchcock beats you over the head with this repeatedly. She suffers from nightmares and hates thunderstorms. And of course she’s a pathological liar. What’s not to love?

Marnie, she hates red. Hates it!

She steals and she’s frigid, but Mark (Sean Connery) still falls for her, despite sexpot Lil (played by a young Diane Baker, whom you might recognize as Sen. Ruth Martin in The Silence of the Lambs) throwing herself at him constantly, even after his marriage to ice-cold Marnie. And I do mean immediately after.

Oh, Lil! You crazy minx!

The movie lost me a bit during the courtship and subsequent marriage/honeymoon of Mark and Marnie. It was all downhill from their first awkward kiss. Hitchcock might be the king of horror and suspense, but he doesn’t do relationships well. He loves a slow build-up, but his romances often seem stilted and rushed to me. It’s not clear why Marnie would even consent to date Mark with her abject fear of men and it’s not entirely clear why Mark would want to marry her after he learns her true nature. But the relationship is necessary to provide Mark the incentive to unravel the mystery that is Marnie. All is revealed in the end.

Watching Marnie taught me:

  • You’re never too old to be jealous of the little girl next door.
  • Hold off on telling the new secretary about the safe combination until at least the second day of employment.
  • If your employer asks you to work overtime at 2:30pm on Saturday, he’s probably got the hots for you.
  • If you’re going to be raped by your husband, it better be Clark Gable.
  • There is a book for every mental ailment.
  • When it comes to horses, shoot first and ask questions later.
  • Never let the crazy lady keep your husband’s gun.
  • The courts in Baltimore go way too easy on murdering prostitute moms.

I don’t think Marnie is one of Hitchcock’s best, but I enjoyed it. Perhaps not entirely in the way Hitchcock intended.

[NB: While researching this post, I stumbled upon this slide show of Vanity Fair’s 2008 Hollywood Portfolio: Hitchcock Classics, which recreates scenes from his films with current stars. Marnie, Rebecca and Strangers on a Train are all represented. Sadly, Torn Curtain didn’t make the cut but lots of other great films did. Definitely worth checking out!]