This was an odd film for Hitchcock to make – A film where the cool, beauty and intoxicating blonde becomes the lead character.
In most Alfred Hitchcock films, the lead female is there to make the protagonist hot under the collar, usually there to demonstrate their impotence. They always have the same characteristics – Sexy, mysterious, masters of brevity, love to mess with men, and of course, blonde.
But in “Marnie” we watch one of those icy blondes take center stage, as Tippi Hedren plays Marnie, a small-time thief who roams across the United States, working for banks run by men who find her attractive, and uses her position and power to steal from these unsuspecting and easily duped gentlemen. Marnie is convinced that men only hold her back and that she’s better off with men getting in the way, using her latest pawn, Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), as a means to an end, until he starts to get wise to her game.
The first half of “Marnie” is very intriguing, as we watch the psychology of Marnie unfold, seeing the dysfunctional relationship she has with her mother and her insistence that all men are terrible. We can’t put the pieces together yet, but we know that Marnie is not all right in the head. Even after Mark puts everything together and practically blackmail Marnie into a relationship, the usually Sean Connery charm convinces us that he has good intentions and wants to help Marnie get well again.
But as the film progresses, it tends to repeat many of the same points and goes in circles with Marnie’s character. We spend so much time on Marnie and Mark trying to work things out, only for her to turn Mark away at every opportunity, that it gets stale. She is unwilling to open up, convinced that her way is the only way, that I lost interest as we spend more time with Mark trying to unravel everything.
Overall, “Marnie” is an interesting change of pace for Hitchcock. It doesn’t have the solid pacing of his other thrillers and only has a few moments of suspense throughout, but the acting from Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery keeps the piece alive.
Final Grade: B-