Reverse Hitchcock #5: Marnie, 1964 – ★★★

#5 in the Reverse Hitchcock project.

I have mixed feelings about ‘Marnie’. It isn’t a film I particularly like, and I find it exploitative and misogynistic when it comes to its female lead, Tippi Hedren, one of Hitch’s ice blondes.

From the opening scenes, which centre on a woman’s bottom wiggle from behind, through to scenes where the psychological block Marnie has about sex edge into areas where she is too hysterical, and male lead Connery is not convincing enough, and it leaves a bitter taste.

It’s almost as if Hitch is fetishizing Hedren and taking pleasure in humiliating her through the situations in which her character is placed at the same time. As Mark, her boss and then husband (not entirely by choice), Sean Connery shows a certain amount of style and charm, but he is unsympathetic, and some of the lines he is given, referring to physical violence in particular, don’t sit well in what should be a taut psychological thriller.

Diane Baker (who I remember seeing before as one of the three office girls in ‘The Best of Everything’) is good as the ice-cold scheming sister-in-law of Connery who seems to have her own ‘pathological fix’ on him.

Marnie has this fear of being ‘handled’ and has ‘no lovers, no steadies, no gentleman callers’ , but is Mark the right one for her, or can he actually push her over the edge?

What else? There’s a secret in Marnie’s past which makes her flip at the colour red, there are horses which matter to past and present, and the feeling of flight and fright, there are some interesting script lines (the flower made of tiny insects, the well-known friendless orphan child, the degradation and animal sense of marriage).

There’s that last five or so minutes, of course, with the flashback, but it doesn’t stop the unease at what has gone before.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

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