Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964): USA

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed on DVD.

I recently decided it was time for an Alfred Hitchcock marathon. After looking at my collection of famous “Hitch” film I decided to start with a lesser known, but still overwhelmingly entertaining thriller from the storied director’s later years.

Marnie, based on a novel by Winston Graham, is a psychological thriller about a young woman (Tippi Hedren) whose sinister past leads her to become a man-hating kleptomaniac. When she is caught by a rich businessman (Sean Connery), he quickly sets his sights on solving the mysteries of her childhood while trying to get her to fall in love with him.

Though Marnie has no iconic line or moment like so many of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpieces, it is still a truly great thriller. I’ve seen it before but there are still moments where I feel a sweat break out and I just want to yell at the screen. Tippi Hedren’s performance as Marnie rivals her other major Hitchcock role in The Birds. Her character is weak while strong and tormented while happy.

Connery, fresh of his first few “Bond” films, delivers a quirky, insult-filled performance as the man who puts Marnie in his sights. Though the dialogue is well written and delve deeply into fields rarely discussed in 1964, it seems to me that there were just a few too many one-liners in the film. For those reasons I both praise and knock Jay Allen, who has also written such classic screenplays as Cabaret and Deathtrap.

Overall, Marnie is a suspenseful tour de force from Tippi Hedren and as always a brilliantly directed film from the master himself. Though there’s no rampages or mass slayings if you want an enjoyable thriller for this Halloween, give Marnie a try.

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