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Marnie
USA 1964
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Running time 129 minutes
Rated PG
4 stars


I’m not a big Hitchcock fan but Marnie is an exception – the subjectively estranged, behaviourally-distorted world of the central character is perfectly matched to Hitchcock’s studio-bound artificiality whilst the contribution by his regular collaborators including the music by Bernard Herrmann, cinematography by Robert Burks, editing by George Tomasini and production design by Robert Boyle all mesh so well with Hitchcock’s direction in what was the director's last film of real note. Add to this the fine screenplay by Jay Presson Allen from Winston Graham’s novel and excellent performances from the cast including Tippi Hendren, Sean Connery and Louise Latham and it really does not get much better than this, though the film did not do well in its day, audiences and critics missing the expected suspense associated with the director's name. As usual with the Hitchcock, the story, which involves the relationship between wealthy scion, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery) and compulsive thief, Marnie (the role had been intended for Grace Kelly but when she pulled out it went to Tippi Hendren, who had starred in Hitchcock's previous film The Birds), reflects the director’s interest in sexual disturbance and he manages to pull off a neat psychological exploration of such without slipping into standard B-grade territory. My only criticisms of the film are the under-utilisation of the Diane Baker character, Mark’s sister-in-law, who is wheeled in and out of the story on demand and the fact that Marnie, who has a severely phobic reaction to the colour red has no problem with lipstick of the same colour. BH

 

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