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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Marnie (Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection) (1964)

"I just seem to have one of those faces."
- Marnie (Tippi Hedren)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: January 18, 2006

Stars: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery
Director: Alfred Hitchcock

MPAA Rating: PG
Run Time: 02h:10m:23s
Release Date: October 04, 2005
UPC: 025192834622
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- CB-B+ B-

DVD Review

We've all seen people take breakups hard, and we all know that it's no fun being dumped—but rarely has a jilting been as extended and as public as when Grace Kelly turned her back on Alfred Hitchcock and the film business to live out a storybook fantasy as Princess of Monaco. Hitch's movies are much more than chapters in his own personal psychobiography, but it's hard not to see a strain running through them—James Stewart remaking Kim Novak in Vertigo, or Janet Leigh getting it in the shower in Psycho, or even Tippi Hedren getting mauled in a phone booth in The Birds all bear the mark of Hitchcock's broken heart and his measure of on-screen revenge. (The fact that there was nothing other than a professional relationship between Kelly and Hitchcock makes this that much more sad, the fat kid with his dreams of taking the cheerleader to the prom dashed by the quarterback driving Daddy's Mercedes.)

And then there is Marnie, another film in this line, and a second with Hedren attempting to fill the slot vacated by Kelly. It's a thankless task, and even if it weren't, it was asking too much of Hedren's capacity to shoulder the load here—and so the movie is uneven at very best, naked and crude in its psychology, but with some odd and smirking pleasures. The title character is a grifter of sorts—a quick dye job and a skirt showing just enough leg are enough to land positions in the payroll offices of various companies, and once Marnie, using a pseudonym, has established trust with her new employers, she grabs all the cash that she can stuff into her purse, and then vaporizes. She can't be found, and even if she could, the marks are usually too embarrassed to press charges, to admit publicly that they've been had by a pretty face.

Inevitably, of course, Marnie lands in the wrong job, allowing someone to connect the dots—that someone here is Mark Rutland, played by a dashing young Sean Connery. Marnie goes to work for the Rutland family business, unaware that the Rutlands are clients of her previous victim, a Mr. Strutt. But Mark is widowed, and Marnie unattached—he catches her with her hand in the cookie jar, and rather than turning her over to the authorities, makes her his mission, his own personal reclamation project. This means wrestling with Marnie's psychological demons, which currently manifest themselves in a horror at the color red, a dread of knocks on the door, and a violent recoiling at the touch of any man. This last becomes a particular problem for Mark on their wedding night, as he's more or less forced Marnie into marrying him, lest he turn her over to the cops.

Though Hedren is our hero, the truly dynamic screen presence, unsurprisingly, is Connery's—this is the Connery of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, and in some respects it feels like his magnetism is wasted in this do-gooder role. Marnie's only true intimacy is with Forio, her horse; we're also made to sit through some painfully expository scenes with Marnie and her mother, to fill in the Freudian details we'll need for the climax of the story, a recovered-memory sequence that's as operatic as the one in Suddenly Last Summer. It gets kind of silly—much of Hitchcock has aged well, but what hasn't is the crude psychoanalysis spoonfed to us in some of his movies, including this one, the concluding aria in Psycho, and of course in great swatches of Spellbound. So this lacks the transcendence of the greatest Hitchcock movies, and makes you almost want to nudge the director and encourage him to get over it, already.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Hitchcock favors high angles here—we spend lots of time peering down at people as they talk on the phone, a visual strategy that doesn't reap many rewards. The transfer itself is a little garish, the colors overdone, though there's no scratching on the source print.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Well balanced, with just a bit too much room tone.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The evolution of the story is the principal subject of The Trouble With Marnie (58m:23s), an extensive making-of documentary even by the standards of this Hitchcock box set. It's no surprise to learn that Grace Kelly was the first choice for the role, which was supposed to lure her out of the palace in Monte Carlo, but no such luck—among those interviewed are Jay Presson Allen, who wrote this script; Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter on Psycho; and Evan Hunter, who performed similar chores on The Birds. Also included are clips of Hedren and of Patricia Hitchcock O'Connell, the director's daughter.

The Marnie Archives (09m:02s) offers many cast photos, publicity shots, stills of Hitch on the set, and posters and ads from around the world, and the brief production notes emphasize the development of the script.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

It's psychologically clumsy, and Tippi Hedren doesn't have the skills to pull off the confidence man (or is that confidence woman?) routine, but Marnie has many of the trademark suspenseful attributes of Hitchcock pictures—it's unlikely to be your favorite, and it's decidedly minor, but the mere presence of Sean Connery makes it palatable.

 


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