Out of all Hitchcock's films, it is Marnie I cannot forget, although Vertigo comes close. It's thrillingly relentless, filled with cinematic beauty, a fizzing script shot through with black comedy and utterly absorbing until the very last scene.
Who could forget Tippi Hedren's searing, visceral, disconnected portrait of trauma, kleptomania and frozen sexual repression as Marnie opposite Sean Connery?
Connery in blazing contrast is all animal magnetism and proves a quicksilver sparring partner as the clever, urbane businessman Mark Rutland who just can't stop himself from trying to rescue Marnie, a woman with a mysterious and tragic past.
The film is full of light and shade, old money, country houses and hunt balls versus murder, prostitution and grim poverty and Hitchcock shows this juxtaposition with deft brilliance.
Goodness knows what the prudes made of Marnie back in 1964 as it is obsessed with sex. The kind of sex and abuse that doesn't get talked about even in 2022.
It's a dark, mad, sexy, claustrophobic, profoundly disturbing film masterpiece awash with sexual desire, shame, reckless passion, opulent Edith Head costumes and voyeurism, especially on the part of the director himself, who we now know made unwelcome advances to his leading lady.
Marnie came out in 1964, and the risque subject matter and glittering allure and sexual tension between Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery caused some disquiet at the time. The film wasn't really understood. No wonder, it deals with murder, prostitution, sexual obsession, grand larceny and PTSD.
Of course, no review would be complete without a discussion of the rape scene and Marnie's attempt at suicide. Mark is endlessly kind and sympathetic to Marnie, so why show him forcing himself on his traumatised bride and the awful focus on her face? It is ugly, disturbing and cruel and adds nothing to the story. It simply reveals Hitchcock to be a twisted little man who seemed to enjoy making his heroines walk through fire.
However, the film does offer hope. It ends with the idea that understanding, compassion and honesty is the cure, and Hedren's character learns the truth about her mother's 'accident' and she can begin to heal from a horrible start in life.
Given that revisiting and processing trauma is the primary way to treat PTSD, Marnie is a groundbreaking, visionary film ahead of its time.
Tippi turns 92 today and we certainly don't need any other excuse to celebrate the life and birthday of a film goddess who gave one of the greatest and most complex, emotional performances on screen and then had her career cut short because she refused Hitchcock's advances.
As a result, the film world lost Tippi Hedren to the solace she found in providing sanctuary to her beloved big cats.
But here's the thing, while Hitchcock's legacy is tarnished by his treatment of women, the picture of Marnie galloping wild and free on her horse Forio - which is Greek for stolen goods is a moment in film that is indelible.
Costume Historian Victoria Haddock Comments on the Legacy of the Hitchcock Blonde in Fashion
Tippi Hedren began her career as a model in the 1950s, working under the Ford agency in New York. The bearing and skills she learnt as a model can be seen in the way she wears clothes on film. From the iconic green suit in The Birds to the white satin evening dress in Marnie, Edith Head’s designs for Hedren and other ‘Hitchcock blondes’ have inspired fashion for decades, including at least two of Alexander McQueen’s shows. In 2018, aged 88, Hedren returned to modelling, following in her granddaughter Dakota Johnson’s footsteps, by starring in advertisements for Gucci jewellery and timepieces.
The Luminaries Movie and Organic Foodie Night In
Now join us for The Luminaries Movie and slow food night! The recipe for a perfect evening of escapism is Marnie, with homemade wild salmon sushi by Dr Michael Mosley and a glass of organic chardonnay from Vintage Roots.
Dr Michael Mosely Low Carb Salmon Sushi Recipe
Pair with Arrogant Frog Organic Chardonnay from Vintage Roots.
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