Discs Are Rated
review by Anthony D.
Running Time: 131 Minutes
Starring Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Louise Latham,
Directed by Alferd Hitchcock
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: "The Trouble With Marnie" Documentary,
Production Notes, Theatrical Trailers, The Marnie
Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full
Frame, Dolby Digital English 2.0, Dolby Digital French 2.0,
English Captions, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search
Hitchcock devotees know the story: As filming of
Hitchcock's follow-up film to "The Birds," Grace Kelly was
to make a welcome return to the screen, but unfortunately
was detained by her royal duties as Princess Grace. Had
grace graced the screen, the scenario would have still been
a near-faithful adaptation of Winston Graham's first-person
narrative tale "Marnie."
Marnie (Tippi Hedren) is a compulsive thief with deep
rooted psychological problems. The money she takes, Marnie
spends on her distant mother (Louise Latham) as well as her
only ally, her horse, Florio. Marnie's mother, for unknown
reasons, cannot express any love towards her successful
daughter, whereas Florio gives Marnie nothing but
While robbing her new employer, Marnie is caught in the
act. Mark Rutland (Sean Connery, fresh from "Dr. NO")
replaces the money on the conditional term that Marnie will
become the second Mrs. Rutland. Wedded life, though, is not
at all what Mark thought it would be. After having his own
awkward way with his new wife, Marnie attempts suicide.
Why does Marnie reject male advances? What causes her to
lead a life of criminal activity? Why should Marnie cower in
corners when thunder roars? What is it about the colors of
red upon white that cause Marnie to become physically ill?
What is the secret of Marnie? These questions form the plot
of this thoroughly thought-provoking exercise in sexual
mystery crafted by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
"The colors! Stop the colors!" Marnie screams out in a
key scene (Chapter 6; Instinctual Behaviour). And all of the
colors in "Marnie" are quite deliberate, and shown to great
advantage in the 1.85:1 anamorphic presentation here. The
reds are shocking, but never bleeding; verdant greens
abound, night scenes are natural and the shimmering whites
rarely result in moiring. Rarely do aritifacts appear, and
grain is kept at a minimum. Fleshtones never veer towards
orange and the film retains the glossy look associated with
Universal films of the 1960's. Hitchcock's use of process
shots to symbolize a character's mental state have always
been problematic, but if the viewer is keen enough to
understand what Hitchcock was accomplishing with those shots
(Chapters 15 - 16) they will accept one of the most basic
conceits of the film.
Although I am pleased with the quality of "Marnie," in my
final ratings, I will be taking the rating down one point
because from my viewpoint, the transfer used for the film
and the film used for "The Trouble with 'Marnie'" are quite
different. The source for the documentary material seems
richer, fuller and with a slightly better definition than
the film's transfer.
Although presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, "Marnie"
has a wide soundstage and is very pleasing - -ADR-produced
dialogue is not noticeable and Bernard Hermann's orchestral
score sounds lush and lively.
True to form, Universal has loaded "Marnie" with a
multitude of special features. The Hitchcock-narrated
trailer is great fun, with Hitchcock putting a droll spin on
the word s-e-x. The trailer shows the schizophrenia the
studio encountered when trying to sell "Marnie."
The usual Cast & Film Makers Screens are here, along
with text only Production Notes. The featured made-for-video
"The Trouble with Marnie" (LOVE that play on another
Hicthcock title!) is a necessity for all film buffs. The
documentary features THREE screenwriters associated with
"Marnie:" Joseph Stefano, Evan Hunter and credited
screenplay author, Jay Presson Allen. Both of the male
writers express their ,major problems with adapting Winston
Graham's bold novel to Hitchcock's personal vision -
Hitchcock didn't want an analyst as a character and insisted
on keeping a marital scene which could be read, improperly,
as "a rape scene." It's fascinating to find that Jay Presson
Allen, a female writer, would have the final screen credit,
and not think that the so-called "rape" scene was not
problematic to her. Jay Presson Allen delivers the most
intelligent statement regarding the audience reaction to the
implication of the scene with the quip, "You have to count
on [the actor's] charisma to redeem the character. They
aren't STARS for nothing!"
Other interesting factoids are delivered by Patricia
Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren, Diane ("The Silence of the Lambs")
Baker and the brilliant character actress, Louise Latham.
Consicuosly absent is Sean Connery, whose thoughts on
"Marnie" would seem to be invaluable.
"The 'Marnie' Archives," running nearly ten minutes,
contains various pre- and post- production stills played out
against Bernard Hermann's "Marnie Theme," a pieace of music
that we learned in the documentary was actually given words,
became a song and was recorded by Nat "King" Cole! I'm still
waiting for some brilliant record maker to come up with an
album of "The Songs of Alfred Hitchcock," as long as they
credit me with the concept.
The most fascinating film that Hitchcock ever made, and
definitely the most "Cinematic," "Marnie" has its devout
gallery of fans, to which I proudly belong. "Marnie" belongs
to a sub-genre of Hitchcock films that includes "Vertigo"
and "Notorious," films that have at their center a character
whose actions we cannot as audience members condone:
Scottie's makeover of Judy, Devlin's forced marriage and
finally in "Marnie," thievery. As in "Rear Window," we are
forced to identify with a peeping tom, the behavior of the
two major characters in "Marnie" is not really the point,
the point being what DRIVES these characters.
Hitchcock through film techniques, forces the audience
into the world of "Marnie's" mind. The whole film is an
experiment in developing a character through action, deed,
memory and emotion. Tippi Hedren is more than up to the
role, possibly the most difficult role ever written for a
woman. Rarely offscreen, Hedren charges through the film
taking the viewer on an unforgettable journey of Marnie's
past, present, and in the final shot, her future.
Because it is so experimental, "Marnie" never really
reached its audience. Years of repertory showings as well as
late-night television garnered many new fans of "Marnie."
Audiences expecting the droll humor of "The Trouble with
Harry" or "North by Northwest" will not find any laughs
here. No brutal slayings ala "Psycho," nor no Nature on a
rampage as in "The Birds." "Marnie" stands alone in the
Hitchcock canon, it may have ties to previous Hitchcock
films, and expand upon previous Hitchcock themes, but
"Marnie" is a unique entity.
As portrayed by Tippi Hedren, Marnie is not a character
that we would like to have as a friend; although we are
wrapped up in the mystery as to WHY Marnie is the way she
is. Hedren is in nearly every frame of this film finding
nuances in each and every moment of screen-time. She is
equally challenged by two very worthy opponents in the
acting of Sean Connery - - sexy, dignified and utterly
charismatic, and the sheer brilliance of stage actress
Louise Latham. Latham is so good in her roles as Marnie's
mother at very different ages that one forgets that at the
time, Latham was a very young actress adept at playing
When the final thunderstorm strikes, and all loose ends
seem to be tied up, Hitchcock takes the players out into the
light of a new day, yet still leaves an arresting ambiguity
about the future for these people. "Marnie" is definitely
not for viewers who like their pablum spoon-fed. The journey
to that new day is never easy, but with skilled actors in
the hands of the one and only Alfred Hitchcock, and
photography unlike any seen in the majority of American made
films, that journey is worth taking. Universal has made it
easier for us to follow that journey as often as we wish
with it's Collector's Edition of "Marnie," a film that will
now delight, confound, incite and bring to new generations,
the mystery that is "Marnie."
(5/5, NOT included in
NOT an average)