March 21st, 2013



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?