Monday, July 18, 2011
Studio: Universal Pictures
Screenplay: Jay Presson Allen & Evan Hunter
Source Material: The novel by Winston Graham
Running Time: 125 minutes
Monday 18th July, 2:00pm
It has been over a fortnight since the last update, but I knew I was going to have one weekend off before the end of my project so that I could neatly time the final film to coincide with Hitchcock's birthday. To be frank, I wish I had chosen this weekend to skip as I was hung-over throughout Sunday and had to postpone the viewing until today - but I'm having a long weekend anyway, so it's not too much trouble.
Tomorrow, it's my birthday (bless) and this is why I am having an extra long weekend. I always like to take the day off work when it's my birthday - I recall one year when I could not because I was away on a work conference. My, I was a bit stroppy that year I can tell you! Ah, the foibles of a mardy-pants...
I have been a fan of Marnie for many years. Maybe it's because I am a frigid thief with repressed childhood memories in denial of my own past. Or maybe it's because it's a damn fine film. You decide.
Marnie Edgar - Tippi Hedren
Mark Rutland - Sean Connery
Lil mainwaring - Dianne Baker
Sidney Strutt - Martin Gabel
Bernice Edgar - Louise Latham
Cousin Bob - Bob Sweeney
Man at racetrack - Milton Selzer
Susan Clabon - Mariette Hartley
Mr Rutland - Alan Napier
Sailor - Bruce Dern
Detective - Henry Beckman
Sam Ward - S John Lautner
Rita - Edith Evanson
Mrs Turpin - Meg Wyllie
A woman with jet-black hair is at a train station carrying a suitcase in one hand and with a smaller yellow handbag tucked under her other arm.
Meanwhile, Mr Strutt is describing the woman who has stolen money from him to a pair of detectives.
"Five foot five, a hundred and ten pounds, size eight dress, blue eyes, black wavy hair... even features... good teeth..."
He admits he had given her the secretarial job knowing she had no references. Mark Rutland arrives and surveys the scene, he knows the woman Mr Strutt speaks of as he's met her before on a previous visit.
At a hotel, the black-haired woman is filling one suitcase with old clothes and filling another one with new clothes. She transfers a heap of money from the yellow handbag to another. She changes the Social Security account number card from her wallet stating her name to be 'Marion Holland' and replaces it with one for 'Mary Taylor' - then she washes the black dye out of her hair. She is blonde.
She travels to the train station, leaves the old cases in a locker and throws away the key.
She returns to a guest house where she is known as 'Miss Edgar' and then heads out to Garrod's where she keeps her beloved horse, Forio.
Later, Marnie visits her semi-invalid mother who is babysitting for a young girl names Jessie Cotton of whom Marnie is unashamedly jealous due to her own mother's affections towards her. She hates the red gladiolas in the front room and removes them, replacing them with the chrysanthemums she has brought. In an emotional confrontation, Marnie asks why her mother doesn't seem to love her and for this she is slapped hard across the face.
A few days later, Marnie has now applied a brown dye to her hair. She applies for a job at Rutland's & Co, a publishing firm. Whilst interviewed by a Mr Ward, Mark Rutland watches and indicates that he would like Mr Ward to give the job to 'Mary Taylor' rather than a more qualified applicant - but fails to give his reasons.
Here we also meet Lil Mainwaring, Mark's sister-in-law. He is widowed, but had remained firm friends with his dead wife's sister who seems to have feelings for him herself.
During her early days working at Rutland's, 'Mary Taylor' notices that Mr Ward always opens a small locked drawer before going to the safe. She learns that Mr Ward keeps the safe combination in there as he can never remember it. She also accidentally spills some red ink on her white blouse and has a hysterical reaction to the colour emblazoned on her sleeve.
One night, during some overtime working directly with Mark Rutland, there is a terrible storm. 'Mary' is distraught and terrified. Mark goes to her aid and they both narrowly miss being hurt when a branch from a tree crashes through the window.
Over the next few weeks, Mark and 'Mary' begin to spend more time together. He takes her to the races, where a man approaches 'Mary' saying he knows her as Peggy Nicholson, but she denies it flatly. At one point, they are going to place money on a horse named 'Telepathy' but when 'Mary' sees the red dots on the silks of the jockey, she changes her mind and insists that Mark does not bet on that horse. Unfortunately, it goes on to win...
Mark even takes 'Mary' to meet his father one weekend at the family home where she meets Lil once again. Mark's father takes to 'Mary' quite quickly as he too is extremely fond of horses.
Then, the day comes when 'Mary' is to do what she came to the job to do. One Friday evening, she waits in the ladies' powder room until everyone has gone home. She takes a stolen key to open the small drawer and reads the safe combination:
4 turns left to 36
4 turns right to 20
2 turns left to 16
2 turns right to 8
1 turn left to 5
The safe opens, as she fills her bag with money, she is unaware of a cleaner mopping the corridor floor just feet away. Removing her shoes to remain unheard, she slips them into her coat pockets and tiptoes past the cleaner who is intensely mopping away. One shoe slips from Marnie's pocket and clatters to the ground... the woman remains mopping, unfazed by the noise. The woman is mostly deaf, thankfully.
The next day, Marnie is blonde again and out galloping on Forio. She is shocked to see Mark waiting for her upon her return.
He confronts her and explains how he'd already had suspicions about her from the day he saw her at the interview. He tracked her to the stables having been lead by clues she had dropped whilst out at the races with him. She continues to fob him off with lie after lie, but he is having none of it. Eventually, he drags the truth out of her but, instead of turning her over to the police, uses emotional blackmail and proposes to her. He thinks she should stay with him at the family home.
She has little choice.
They are married and they take their honeymoon on a cruise. Both Lil and Mark's cousin Bob are curious about this sudden romance and Lil in particular is keen to find out more...
Whilst on the cruise, Mark learns of Marnie's frigidity and is perplexed by her terror of sexual advances. He promises to keep his distance and for days they enjoy reasonably civil mutual conversations, but eventually the façade falls apart. He becomes tense with sexual frustration and tears her night dress from her. He apologises and covers her with his own gown. She is stunned into a state of shock and in this almost comatose state, she "allows" him to make love to her. The next morning, he wakes to find her gone - he dashes out in the early morning air and searches the deck - he finds her face down in the ship's swimming pool but manages to resuscitate her.
They return home. Lil overhears Mark and Marnie discussing Strutt and the possibility of jail. She does some investigating of her own and also eavesdrops on a phone conversation Marnie has with her mother, whom she had told everyone was dead.
Mark, as a sort of peace offering, brings Forio home from the stables for Marnie to ride. Whilst she is out, Lil tells Mark about what she knows and also about Marnie's mother. She says she wants to help, but mark asks her to merely be a friend to Marnie.
Mark gets a private detective to look into Marnie's mother's life and discovers some interesting facts about a court case.
Later at night, Marnie has her recurring nightmare about a tapping and her mother being hurt. Mark comes in and wakes her to try and get her to tell what the dream is about. They argue once more and he tricks her into exposing something from deep within through free-association with words. Her reactions to 'sex', 'death' and 'red' are telling...
Days later, a party is being thrown at their home. Lil has gone and invited Strutt. He recognises Marnie as the girl who stole money from his business, but is not entirely sure. Marnie panics and realises she has to bolt.
Mark tells her not to, saying her can persuade Strutt not to press charges if they repay the money - this is when she admits to other crimes and Mark believes with the right circumstances, things can be smoothed over - he can afford to pay off her 'debts' if necessary.
The next day, Mark is trying to persuade Strutt and whilst he does that, Marnie is joining the others on a fox hunt. Once she spies the red of one of the jackets, she flees, racing on Forio over the fields. Lil chases after her. One final jump over a wall is too much. Forio trips and falls, throwing Marnie off and crippling himself. Marnie, in tears bangs on the door of a nearby house where she forces the owner, Mrs Turpin, to give her a gun. Lil tries to assist, but Marnie is determined to do this herself. She takes the gun and shoots Forio in the head.
Still in shock, she wanders back to the house, still holding the gun. She goes upstairs, takes the keys from Mark's study and heads back to the Rutland company offices. She heads straight for the safe, opens it and struggles with her urges and impulses. Mark arrives in time and gets the gun off her and tells her they are going to take a trip to see her mother.
Arriving in Baltimore as a storm begins, Mark confronts Mrs Edgar, insisting she tells the truth about Marnie's past - force her to explain the missing memories that have been tormenting her all these years. Mrs Edgar won't and she goes to attack Mark, but as they struggle, Marnie's memory clicks into place and she begins to remember...
In flashback, we see the young Mrs Edgar. She provides young sailors with entertainment for a small sum but sue to the small abode, she has to wake up her daughter with a knock on the door in order to get her to move to the settee so she and the gentlemen callers can use her bed.
This particular evening, young Marnie is too distressed and cries. The sailor comes out to tell her to keep quiet, he brushes her hair and begins to kiss her neck. Mrs Edgar throws herself at him, telling him to take his hands off her daughter. In a fight, they fall, damaging Mrs Edgar's leg - she cries out in pain. Little Marnie grabs the fire poker and beats the sailor over the head until he dies.
The truth is revealed. Mrs Edgar told the police she killed the sailor in self defence. She also tells of how she had slept with Marnie's biological father just the once but he had run off when she became pregnant. She had them spent her life inflicting this dangerous image of men upon her daughter, trying to protect her.
Marnie now knows that her mum had always loved her and had simply wanted to protect her and keep her decent, but instead, it had turned Marnie into a liar, a cheat and a thief.
Mark takes Marnie in his arms and takes her away, promising to take care of her.
Marnie sees a picture of an animal in Mark's office:
Mark: "...that's Sophie. She's a jaguarundi. South American. I trained her."
Marnie: "Oh, what did you train her to do?"
Mark: "Trust me."
Marnie: "Is that all?"
Mark: "That's a great deal.. for a jaguarundi."
Mark has an odd slant on romance:
Mark: "It seems to be misfortune to have fallen in love with a thief and a liar."
Mark: "I've tracked you and caught you, and by God, I'm gonna keep you!"
When Mark asks Marnie why she threw herself in the ship's pool rather than overboard, she tells him frankly: "The idea was to kill myself, not feed the damn fish."
Finally, my favourite line, which is delivered twice at different moments...
Marnie: "There. There now..."
There are three key scenes which I think are simply fantastic. Firstly, the safe-breaking scene in which Marnie steals the money whilst the cleaner silently mops just feet away and Marnie has to escape unheard. It's terrific direction and has edge-of-your-seat tension. You genuinely want her to get away with it.
Secondly, the accident involving Forio and Marnie - the wall, the crippling and then the shooting - it's heartbreaking and so difficult to watch. Brilliant.
Thirdly, the revelatory finale shown in flashback where we learn the truth about Marnie's psychosis. Superbly shot, terrifyingly intimate and deeply shocking. Bruce Dern's cameo in this movie is brief but intrinsic to the plot and just unnerving enough to warrant the audience's compliance with the ultimate justice he is served.
Other scenes of note are the 'rape' scene and the brilliant 'free-association' scene where she first answers blithely until she cracks and words of meaning and distress pour from her lips. That scene always gives me goose-bumps.
There are stories told about Hitchcock's darker side overpowering some of the elements in this film - particularly over Tippi Hedren and the uncredited Evan Hunter. I find it uncomfortable to imagine the negative aspects of Alfred's personality and when the final product is so utterly bewildering, one wonders if he had the right to exert such power "willy-nilly". Had his success gone to his head by this point? that's open for debate.
Bernard Herrmann's final score for Hitchcock and, once again, it is superb. The themes within are haunting and they live on in your mind long after the film is over.
People will forever connect Herrmann with Psycho and Vertigo particularly, but this is just as emotive and effective.
Oh, and let's mention Sean Connery, shall we? This man is one of the biggest male sex symbols in cinema history. Here he is a saviour, a hunter, a leader, an emotional blackmailer and a sexual predator who, in no uncertain terms, rapes his own wife. Both Mark and Marnie are, basically, despicable people but they show the inhumanity that is possible within all of us to a degree. Humanity's flaws embodied in male and female roles.
It may be hard for some to watch Sean in this role having known him for so long as the suave and debonair James Bond (who may be a womaniser, but never to the extent of forcing himself upon an unwilling victim) but it's a performance worth savouring.
The film owes much to Tippi Hedren's performance as without such a powerful portrayal of the anti-heroine, the film may have been less of a success. 9/10
(Only four films to go!!)