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Monday
Jun162014

Beauty Vs Beast: Him Freud, Her Jane

JA from MNPP here - The Film Experience is taking a look back at 1964 all this month and so it's the perfect time for our "Beauty Vs Beast" series to take a look at a movie that's turning 50 next month (it was released on July 22nd, 1964) and wades so deep into morally murky waters you're never quite sure which end of the screen you're rooting for (if any), making it perfect for this poll - I speak of Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie.

Starring Tippi Hedren as the titular troubled girl turned to theivery and Sean Connery as the businessman alternately turned on and repelled by that rascally blonde's baser instincts, Marnie's awash in dream symbols (so many snapping purses!) and psychiatry talk - too much of the latter by my count; like Hitch's film Spellbound I  always find his movie's at their least interesting when they're explicitly spelling out his psychological obsessions. Give me the fluid illogic of Vertigo over it any day. But like the keys and key-holes that clutter every other frame of Marnie, the film is most interesting as far as the clues it further offers us towards an understanding of Alfred Hitchcock and his never not fascinating psychological profile. It shuffles some not-before-seen puzzle pieces into place.

Hitch was always putting the audience into morally compromising situations, getting us to side with bullies and lunatics - even his most well-intentioned heroes found themselves doing terrible things (think of the scene in the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much where Jimmy Stewart drugs Doris Day without telling her so he can calm her down). But Marnie for me is the tipping point in Hitch's filmography where his characters become almost uniformly unlikeable; there's an angriness (or worse, an indfference) to the last decade and a half of his work (yes even in the so-called comedy of The Trouble With Harry) - it reaches its apex with Frenzy, a film I find exceedingly unpleasant to watch with its cast of shrewish women and sweaty men (it works as a horror film, but it makes me extraneously sad all the same), but the seeds are planted with Mark and Marnie, two people just a little too damaged and bizarre for me to ever find myself rooting for them in any way.

So why not force us to pick?!

 

You've got one week to vote and to sell us in the comments on the frigid blonde or the manly man that's come to beat some sanity into her. Choices, oh choices.

PREVIOUSLY And speaking of choices, with last week's poll pitting Natalie Portman's White Swan against Mila Kunis' Black Swan? Y'all couldn't make one! IT'S A TIE, YOU GUYS. 428 votes, split perfectly at 50/50. I can't even tell you how giddy that makes me - the movie about doubling and dopplegangers split us right down the middle. We look in the mirror and we see all of the faces. We are legion. I'll share to two quotes from y'all since we went both ways:

"Nina only cause I don't think Lily would take the loss as hard." -- SVG

"Team Lily because that fierce little Russki NEVER would have fallen flat on her ass on opening night. Get your shit together Nina!" -- TB

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Reader Comments (9)

Re: Black Swan, we live in the best of all possible worlds. (The GIF helps too.)

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I love this view of MARNIE as the turning point. It makes so much sense and I agree that the later films it's tough to care about the characters though Barbara Harris in Family Plot... almost.

June 16, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I voted for Mark, although I didn't really want to, as he is so smarmy. I just find Marnie so immensely irritating, which is almost entirely to do with her as a character, as opposed to Tippi Hedren's performance.

I have to say that I'm really Team Lil. I would love to know what she did after she realised she would never be with Mark.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

RobMiles -- YES, THAT. co-sign for a write in vote. I voted the same way for the same reason but i know i feel guilty about it.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Marnie all the way. Hedron was so stunningly beautiful in this that even Bond himself couldn't steal your eyes away. So beautiful that I only remember her, not the film.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Voting for Marnie. The movie really is a snore, but Tippi Hedron really is great. This is proof she had the goods to be an actress, and it's kind of a shame nothing really happened after this movie for her.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Team Marnie...but only because I can't stand Sean Connery.

June 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I always think of Hitchcock as an adapter of popular novels, often written by women or with a female protagonist. Whoever picked the books liked a good juicy book, with good characters, narrative, satisfying ending. Marnie is based on a book by Winston Graham who wrote suspenseful thrillers. The book ending (and psychological motivation) is different.

Yes, of course, I also realize that Hitchcock was unique, artistic, clever, and put his own stamp and twist on everything.

My feeling as to the fade off of Hitchcock's later films is that it was affected by changes in the field of his source material. Popular novels were changing. Unlike Daphne DuMaurier, they didn't have an inbred theatricality. I think there was a disconnect there that cut Hitchcock off from source material that really appealed to him.

June 18, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

adri -- interesting take! i hadn't really thought about how much his work is based on books since he's so very cinematic.

June 18, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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