ming movie reviews

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Marnie (1964)

US 130m, Colour
Director: Alfred Hitchcock; Cast: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham

MarnieMarnie is an interesting story of a mentally unstable young woman who is tormented by events in her childhood of which she has no conscious memory. Though spurning romantic relationships all her adult life, she reluctantly marries a wealthy businessman in order to avoid the authorities who want her for stealing from her previous employers. As with a number of Hitchcock’s films, this one suffers from clumsily executed painted backdrops which seem more of a cost savings measure, rather than artifact of Hitchcock’s expressionist roots. Though an engaging and suspenseful story, the psychological explanation now seems predictable and somewhat of a cliché, and certainly not nearly as shocking as it would have been in the early 1960s (Klaus Ming January 2013).

2 comments on “Marnie (1964)

  1. Anthony Lee Collins

    I agree about the painted backdrops being distracting. I think they’re easier to use in black and white. Tim Burton is the only contemporary director I can think of where they’re really an obvious asset to his pictures.

    I remember when I saw Marnie on DVD fairly recently, and the documentary on the disc was also interesting. There was an interview with Evan Hunter, who worked on the screenplay and was fired by Hitchcock because he tried to write out the (spoiler) rape.

    Jay Preston Allen was hired then, and she was interviewed also. She understood what Hunter didn’t, which that keeping the audience’s sympathy for Connery’s character was not a writing challenge. As she said, “That’s why we have movie stars.”

    As I think we’ve talked about before, that’s something Hitchcock understood very well (and liked to push against).

    • Klaus

      I’ve read that some critics suggest that Hitchcock’s use of matte paintings are founded in his expressionist roots as a young film maker.

      While Hitchcock certainly uses expressionist motifs (odd camera angles, use of light and shadow) throughout his film making career, the phony backdrops (particularly in moving automobile scenes) don’t add anything from this point of artistic sensibility. Rather, I wonder if it isn’t simply a matter of budget, or Hitchcock putting his energies into other areas of the film making process which he felt more important?

      While I didn’t see the DVD documentary, I have read excerpts from it – definitely a telling piece about Hitchcock’s rather different ideas and sensibilities.

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This entry was posted on 01/19/2013 by in 1001 List, 1960s, All and tagged .
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