Hitchcock and Connery's Hedren Collider
Sometimes I feel that just because Alfred Hitchcock directed a movie some people automatically extol its virtues and rate it higher than maybe it deserves. One such movie for me is "Marnie" because whilst it is one sense classic Hitchcock with its psychological thriller aspect it isn't actually anything more than average. In fact it almost feels like a movie that Hitchcock made where he lost interest in it the longer it went on because whilst the opening is intriguing it goes down hill from then on till it finally wraps things up in a messy conclusion over 120 minutes later. Now having said that "Marnie" is average isn't a criticism because even an average Hitchcock movie is good but this is not Alfred Hitchcock at his best.
Marnie Edgar (Tippi Hedren - The Birds) is a habitual thief finding employment as a secretary where she works for a few months before robbing her bosses and then disappearing without a trace, changing her appearance and identity to cover her tracks. But when she finds employment at Rutland's she doesn't account on the handsome Mark Rutland (Sean Connery - Entrapment) catching her in the act and preventing her from doing a runner. Intrigued by what he sees, Mark forces Marnie to marry him so that he can not only analyse her problem but try and help her especially as she struggles with being close to a man.
So "Marnie" starts on quite a good note as we meet the titular character Marnie this female thief who changes her appearance and identity so she can go about robbing her bosses. It's a good start because it is intriguing and the delivery of the mystery element, as we learn that Marnie suffers from some form of psychosis brought on by the colour red and a tapping noise it does lead you in to wanting to know more. But then it all seems to get a bit messy when Marnie is basically caught by Mark Rutland who finds her problems and need to steal interesting, marrying her partly because he does love her but also sees her fragile state as something to study. It just feels so false, so contrived and whilst the clever twist at the end reveals as to why Marnie feels compelled to steal and explains her frequent nightmares and fear of men it is heavy handed and messy. As such whilst the idea of "Marnie" is good the delivery of it isn't as it becomes less and less interesting the longer it goes on.
Because it gets messier the longer it goes on I do wonder if Hitchcock lost interest in making the movie. Maybe it stems from the fact that casting for me is wrong with Tippi Hedren delivering a fine performance but never really managing to bring the complex character of Marnie to life. In those earlier scenes Hedren is in fact great especially as you get a feel that she enjoys the thrill of stealing, but once you get past the build up and the story settles on Mark trying to help her it feels like Hedren just didn't know how to get the complexity of her character across when sharing a scene.
It also doesn't help that whilst it is obvious that Marnie and Mark having feelings for each other the chemistry between Hedren and Connery just doesn't materialise. And talking of Connery whilst he is perfect at getting across the strong, charismatic part of Mark with so much ease when it comes to his psycho analysis of Marnie it feels wrong and also feels a bit too rough and ready for someone who is meant to have come from a well to do family. As such whilst Connery and Hedren have some great scenes either together or separately they just don't really deliver what their characters should be.
Whilst Hedren and Connery may have been the stars it is Diane Baker as Mark's sister-in-law Lil Mainwaring who steals the movie from them. Baker delivers the manipulative ness of her character brilliantly, the jealousy of Marnie when Mark brings her home and the evilness as she snoops around in order to try and get rid of her. In a way Diane Baker could possibly have been better cast as Marnie because she understands and delivers her character so well.
Of course being a Hitchcock movie you also have the element to "Marnie" where people like to analyse it from a deeper point of view. And in a way maybe "Marnie" is more interesting when analysed because you have Mark basically controlling her life whilst trying to get into her mind. Some have said that this element represented how Hitchcock felt about women and Tippi Hedren and maybe he did. Does it make "Marnie" more entertaining, no, does it make it more interesting, a little.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Marnie" is a very average movie and most definitely not one of Hitchcock's best movies. It just feels like he lost interest in the movie the longer it went on and whilst it starts well setting up an intriguing premise it loses interest the longer it goes on. None of which is helped by the fact that whilst Hedren and Connery had some good scenes they don't quite fit their characters making it feel slightly wrong. So whilst "Marnie" is a Hitchcock movie with a few elements of classic Hitchcock about it, it's not anything more than an average movie.