An emotionally fragile and sexually frigid kleptomaniac, Marnie Edgar (Hedren) drifts from city to city robbing each workplace as she goes. Realising what her game is, new employer Mark Rutland (Connery) is intrigued and blackmails Marnie into marrying him, intent on getting to bottom of her emotional problems…
While some believed at the time that Marnie signalled the beginning of a decline in Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated career, looking back it emerges as one of his most underrated pieces. Certainly, it’s something of a last for the acclaimed filmmaker – as his last use of a central ‘Hitchcock blonde’, and the last time he worked with a handful of key crew members (composer Bernard Herrmann, photographer Robert Burks, editor George Tomasini). So while viewed as a commercial failure back then, having been released after successful chiller The Birds (which also starred Tippi Hedren), it now stands as a fascinating, if slightly flawed, psychological thriller.
Admittedly, there isn’t much in the way of suspense, aside from a typically tense sequence where Marnie breaks into a safe as a cleaner enters the room. But in similar fashion to Vertigo, Marnie is more interested in perverse romance, probing the damaged human psyche and Freudian psychology than simple thrills. Arguably though, the film is most notable for the presence of a young Sean Connery, appearing just as he was hitting his stride as James Bond (he was in Goldfinger in the same year) and providing his playboy publisher with the same assured presence, take-charge authority and purring, grey-suited virility. Tippi Hedren, meanwhile, provides an icy and complex femme fatale in her second consecutive appearance in a Hitchcock picture.
While some believed at the time that Marnie signalled the beginning of a decline in Alfred Hitchcock’s celebrated career, looking back it emerges as one of the acclaimed filmmaker’s most underrated pieces.