Wednesday, April 2, 2008
That's the question that hangs almost from the start in this very mannered, very purple story by Alfred Hitchcock. By comparison it makes VERTIGO as conventional as NOTORIOUS. "Tippi" Hedren (yes, I never noticed her name is billed in quotes) beats the part down just to show it who's in charge. And, for an odd character in the midst of really dreary people, she's the only one acting in a realistic way. Sean Connery and Diane Baker give very bad imitations of Dana Andrews and Lizabeth Scott. And I think that's the problem with MARNIE. It's noir and needed to be told against the black and white backdrop of the 1940s. Maybe with Lana Turner, Otto Preminger directing.
There's almost no humor, though a very funny line Marnie gets off when the Baker character asks her how she takes her tea ("In hot water, with a tea bag") is barely audible. There is unintentional humor in the Very Serious performance of Louise Latham as Marnie's mother. Her hair and make-up along with certain facial and vocal mannerisms makes me wonder if Carol Burnette didn't pick up some ideas here for the harridan Bernice she played in The Family segments of the her tv show. Strangely enough, Latham's character in MARNIE is also named Bernice!
When we do find out whatever happened to Marnie, it gets pretty engrossing, though, as in the end of PSYCHO, there's much made of tiding up lose ends with clinical, quasi Freudan explanations (by Connery). The one captivating part of MARNIE (besides the up-to-snuff Bernard Herrmann score) are the many visual takes of Marnie's hair, specifically the BACK of Marnie's hairdos. I knew this showed up in VERTIGO too, so I Googled for an answer and found this neat page that gives a good overview of what must have been one of Hitch's darkest and depraved secrets. Sad to say, he took it to the grave with him:
at 1:40 AM