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Tony Grist

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Marnie [Mar. 21st, 2013|10:13 am]
Tony Grist
Connery's character is introduced to us as a tamer of wild animals. Later he refers to himself- quite cheerfully- as a sexual blackmailer- which is exactly what he is. Hitchcock's heroes are rarely nice. They have a superficial smear of charm- because they're being played by the likes of Grant, Stewart or Connery- but underneath they're pure, unmitigated bastard.

Marnie pretends to be a story of redemption. Actually Hedren merely exchanges one kind of enslavement for another- a psychosis for a controlling husband. The second pair of handcuffs may be fluffy but they're still handcuffs.

It's a tightly controlled, artificial film. I believe I'm right in saying we never see sunshine.  We certainly never see the colour red except when Hitchcock wants us to. Wherever possible he shoots his exteriors on studio sets- some of them vast; that way nothing unplanned or fortuitous can sneak its way into his vision. When the action hots up he employs the kind of montage he used to such startling effect in Psycho- effectively stringing stills together- isolating the moments on which everything turns- the horse's hindlegs smacking against the wall, the poker with its wicked hook being held against the dying sailor's head.

We now know Hitchcock was himself harassing and sexually blackmailing Hedren during the making of the film- a circumstance that adds a further layer of ick to what is already a deeply icky experience. Is it also a masterpiece?  I can see faults with it- excessive longeurs of exposition, an over-reliance on pop psychology- but then again, I can think of few movies that are quite so unsettling. It's one of cinema's great expositions of l'amour fou. Hitchcock never identified as a surrealist, but that's exactly what he was.

Call for the doctor, call for the nurse,
Call for the lady with the alligator purse....
.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2013-03-21 11:19 am (UTC)
Funnily enough just started reading a book about Hitchcock, after the philosophy one "Dial M for Metaphysics".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-03-21 12:26 pm (UTC)
The further we move away from him, the greater he seems. Once dismissed as a popular entertainer, he now looks like one of the essential artists of the 20th century.
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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2013-03-21 12:40 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough, Marnie is actually my favourite Hitchcock film - extremely unsettling and in the end rather unresolved as well.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-03-21 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's remarkable he managed to get the studio to put money into such a bleak and uncompromising piece of work. I suppose, after Psycho and the Birds, he pretty much had carte blanche.
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[User Picture]From: setsuled
2013-03-21 05:07 pm (UTC)
The moment I tend to remember most fondly from Marnie is when Marnie is robbing the safe and she puts her shoes in her pockets. The way Hitchcock shoots her barely evading detection was one of the most suspenseful moments I've seen in one of his films.

I loved Hedren's performance, but otherwise I found the movie to be vastly inferior to Vertigo, mainly because of the male lead. Connery is definitely a bastard in Marnie, it's harder to say whether or not Stewart is in Vertigo, though maybe he was meant to be. Regardless, he's a great deal more vulnerable and human. I think Marnie was Hitchcock's attempt to finally flatten every wrinkle in the linoleum of his usual outline, I think it demonstrates how much the nuance of his previous male characters came through unconsciously.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-03-21 06:49 pm (UTC)
That's a great scene.

I was surprised I liked Connery's performance as much as I did. I reckon Hitchcock wanted someone without the light comedy charm of Stewart or Grant. He was walking on water after Psycho and The Birds and thought he'd go for broke and make something really obnoxious.

Vertigo was recently voted the greatest movie ever. I don't think Marnie is in contention for that title- but it's still pretty good.
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[User Picture]From: setsuled
2013-03-22 12:07 am (UTC)
Vertigo was recently voted the greatest movie ever.

Oh, I know, believe me I wasted no time crowing about my favourite movie of all time being named best movie of all time by critics polled worldwide. I take every opportunity to say, "Look! I was right!"
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[User Picture]From: butterscotch711
2013-03-22 08:28 am (UTC)
I love Marnie.

When it came out the artificial look of the sets and effects was going out of style. But actually I think the artificiality is necessary. Robin Wood (academic) says Marnie is an expressionist film.

Pop psychology may be a crutch of Hitchcock's. It's the same with the ending of Psycho. A very unsettling film neatly tied up with an unnecessary (unsatisfying, problematic) "answer".
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-03-22 09:22 am (UTC)
I agree with Wood. Hitchcock understood that movies are essentially dreams. He was never a realist.

Have you seen the movie (damn, I can't think what it's called) where Hitch uses an absurdly reductive psychoanalytical plot as an excuse to work with Dali? The dream sequence is fabulous.
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