Category Archives: Classics

Marnie

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Then, ahead of its time
Now, a mental illness cliche

Though not one of Hitchcock’s best, Marnie is worth watching.  It is fascinating to see how the topic of mental illness was handled during the 1960s.  The background cityscapes may be drawings, the pacing long-winded and the horseback riding scenes laughably fake, but the characters are compelling, the story engaging, and the acting decent.  A young Sean Connery is in the film, and boy is he hot.  Marnie sticks.

Mental illness was not a popular or widely understood topic in 1964, let alone mental illness caused by a horrific childhood trauma.  Marnie is a compulsive liar, a thief, and frigid to boot.  The story follows Marnie and Mark Rutland, a wealthy businessman who knows Marnie’s foibles and falls for her anyway.   What is compelling about Marnie is, well, Marnie.  She is a mess, for good reason, and it’s interesting to watch the pieces of the puzzle fit together to explain her behavior.

The film showcases Hitchcock’s bigoted attitudes about women.  Marnie contains, well there’s no nice way to put it, a rape scene.  Marnie, as film buffs will recall, was the movie in which Hitchcock stalked Tippi Hedren and then, after she refused his advances, killed her career.  I have not seen HBO’s “The Girl” but this film recounts these events.  I saw Marnie at the Michigan Theater, which hosted Turner Classic Movie’s The Road to Hollywood series (http://www.tcm.com/2013/roadtohollywood/).  Tippi Hedren was there – in the flesh! – to discuss the making of the film.  She was amazing, and has had a happy follow-up to her acting career rescuing lions and other large cats.  (http://www.shambala.org/)  You go, Tippi!

Rating: *** (out of ****)

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