CLASSIC REEL : 'Marnie'
Cast: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Martin Gabel, Diane Baker and Louise Latham
Year of Release: 1964
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Plot: A compulsive thief with psychological problems meets her match, in the form of her latest victim.
(This week's classic reel pick is in honour of Sir Sean Connery, who passed away on the 31st of October. RIP)
The Birds. Here, she is Marnie Edgar, a woman who travels from one place to another under assumed names and disguises, stealing money from her bosses. She has a rather strained relationship with her mother (Louise Latham), constantly has nightmares, is afraid of thunderstorms, cannot stand the colour red and the touch of men. Which means, she has serious mental issues, making her a complex but sympathetic character. Tippi stole the show with her excellent acting skills, going from angry and defiant, to terrified and teary. The suspense is gripping as we try to guess the reason behind her mental issues, though the dread of the colour red (every time she saw something red, the screen turns red) could bring out the guess that she witnessed a murder. The more she's in denial, the more her issues worsen and still, she resists help from Mark- mostly (and probably) because he's a man, hence her enemy. She also does not know why she steals, merely accepting it as a weird thing she does. When she gets into one of her episodes, Tippi pulled it off without being over the top, enough to draw both pity and bewilderment from the audience.
Sean Connery- in his first post James Bond appearance- played Mark Rutland, a wealthy widower and publisher who is torn between his attraction to Marnie and obsession in finding out the root of her issues. He's charming and kind to her as they go on dates, even though he suspects she's the same thief who robbed a business acquaintance. But the drama between them starts when she steals from him too and he confronts her about it. And surprisingly, he blackmails her into marrying him instead of turning her in, his argument being he needed to keep his eye on her. His motive and love for Marnie are questionable because while he sees she really needs psychological help, displays utter selfishness in one cringey scene and expects Marnie to carry on the marriage facade, whether she liked it or not. Mark is an anti-hero and not exactly a likeable one; coming off as rather creepy and insensitive during his sparring fights with Marnie, yet going out of his way to protect her from jail and wanting to help her psychologically. He was being cruel to be kind maybe???
The film explores mental illness, the focus being on Marnie and we watch her struggle with her issues until the final moment we find the root of them... no spoilers of course. Aside from Tippi and Connery's excellent acting skills, there was of course the great directing by the Master of Suspense - who left us all guessing how the film will end.
-Alfred Hitchcock's first choice to play Marnie was Grace Kelly. But by then, she was the Princess of Monaco and the citizens' disapproval of the idea of their ruler's wife playing a thief and kissing another man made her turn it down.
-Melody Thomas Scott (who much, much later on, became famous for playing the longstanding character, Nikki Abbot Newman in The Young & The Restless) appeared as Marnie in a flashback)
-Alfred Hitchcock made a cameo appearance in one scene.