Posts Tagged ‘Hitchcock’

I’m sticking to what I think would be an ideal Freudian list of movies again today. And today’s movie is a classic example of exploring the deepest darkest depths of the human psyche. Now, I’m not sure if I’ve ever revealed this to you fine handsome people – but I love Alfred Hitchcock. I’m not exactly his target audience, and trying to get any of my friends to enjoy any of his masterpieces is like being in chess club and asking the hottest guy in the school to prom. But that being said, at the tender age of 21 – there are few of his movies I haven’t seen or don’t own, and I see his ground breaking originality being cloned in practically every thriller I watch. And so, if you are a fan of thrillers, and you don’t mind a movie being older than a good bottle of Chardonnay, then I insist you check out some of his films. His most famous movie is probably ‘Psycho’ which I definitely consider to be the first psychological thriller ever made. That’s my Hitch – actually inventing a genre… But in terms of enjoyment, I would recommend any of his Jimmy Stewart or Grace Kelly partnerships – or hell the film they made together – Rear Window. Or if it’s adventure that you want, check out North by Northwest. Carry Grant climbing down Mount Rushmore… It doesn’t really get any better than that.

And so, now to the movie at hand. Introducing Marnie, a twisted psychological drama that was really the last of Hitch’s greats. Starring Tippi Hendren (of The Birds fame – check that one out, it’s brill!) and the extremely handsome Sean Connery, Marnie tells the tale of a female thief with pretty obvious deep rooted issues.  Connery plays the rather dark and sinister man who decides to take this woman on as his ‘pet project’ if you will. Trying to burrow into this woman’s mind, with the intention of trying to get her to trust him. 

Marnie is a movie for people who think they know how to interpret the workings of the inner mind, but not necessarily for ones who actually can. Those individuals may find the plot and unsubtly of Marnie’s psychological downfall to be cheesy and dated. That being said, Marnie was made in 1964 and movies of this kind were not often made and so our initial predisposition to ‘psychological thrillers’ and their associated clichĂ©s have to be set to one side. Hendren’s character Marnie begins the movie as a strong, independent and quick witted criminal. And so it is hard not to make associations to Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew when you see by the end of the movie that she is totally and utterly submissive, and above all a broken woman thanks to Mark’s (played by Connery) aggressive whittling. It would be a mistake to assume that it was the trauma she suffered as a child that broke her. Granted Marnie was disturbed, and would have eventually needed to face those demons she had hidden for so long. However Mark didn’t expose those demons with the intention of helping her – that can be said for certain. Getting to the root of Marnie’s darkest and deepest fears was all just another means to an end for Mark, who coincidently indicated – more than once – that he was someone fascinated with both behaviour, animalistic traits and trying to make animals trust him. It is this fact that totally outlines the movie. At first glance you could be fooled into believing Marnie is a love story about a strong man enabling the woman he loves to regain control of her life by facing a traumatic event from her childhood. But you would be wrong. Marnie is so much darker and twisted than that. Mark told Marnie that he had gotten a leopard called Sophie to trust him. She belittled his achievement – which in itself is a sign of her independent and strong manner. He responded by saying how great an achievement it was when the leopard is a wild animal. In this movie – Marnie is the wild animal.

You have to ask yourself, why would Mark show such a great interest in Marnie. And why would he go out of his way to protect her from her own criminal deeds. The answer is simple really – Marnie was Marks new project. He indicated that women were the biggest predators of all – again a reference back to animals, and so he was challenging himself. He reckoned if he could get her to trust him, that would be his biggest achievement. Much more so than the leopard. Some would argue that he was trying to help her. But you have to remember that he recognised her instantly when she applied for a job at his firm. He knew she was a thief and made that decision then to tame her, if you will. This occurred long before he knew how disturbed she was, nor that she had a traumatic past. When you realise that was his intent all along, it makes every action after that much more sinister. Yes he did help her bring to light a hidden traumatic event which ultimately led to her facing her demons and helping her neuroticism. But that was just a means in order to break her. Which he succeeded in doing…

Was she broken?

Ask yourself – if we all had to face our deepest, darkest insecurities and the price of that was to be wholly and totally dependent on another human being, would you want to? We all have secrets and moments from our past that we would like to forget. In Marnie’s case she had forgotten them, so that her mind could cope. She wasn’t necessarily better off not knowing, she suffered day to day with painful reminders of this unspoken event which often left her acting out of sorts. However, Mark wasn’t unburying those secrets so he could help his wife, but so that she would finally open herself up and accept him – trust him with every fibre. Had Marnie discovered her past in a doctor’s office as opposed to it being thrust upon her in an unsafe environment by a man with twisted intentions, then this would be a very different film. But she unburdens herself finally, and who does she see? Still, the loveless mother who is icy cold, and then the kind faced, strong armed handsome man who has been with her throughout this perilous journey. Marnie just wanted to be loved all along. She constantly asked her mother why she didn’t love her. So to then have this contrasted with Mark who made her feel safe and protected as he endeavoured to clean up every mess she’d ever made, blind sided Marnie and so she fell in love with him. And more than that – she trusted him. 

Dear God Sean Connery was a handsome devil! Even in this rather sinister picture...!

Still think he was just trying to help her? Well there is one last damning piece of evidence. The final nail in the coffin. The book. Throughout the movie Mark reads books about animals, behaviour, zoology – he often referred to it as his field, on top of his usual work. But the only book of real significance is totally framed by Hitchcock, entitled: Psycho-sexual Behavior in the Criminal Mind.

Pretty strange bedtime reading don’t you think? Mark admitted himself that he was interested in that field. But he was reading that book not to help Marnie, but again to gain control of her. To unroot her insecurities in order to gain her trust. And the sick thing about this movie is that it works. By the final scene, she is very much a broken woman. She tells him she wants to stay with him, and doesn’t want to go to prison. When just a few short months ago she couldn’t stand him even touching her. But like all Hitchcock films, Hitch leaves a lot to interpretation and a lot of guessing work is done throughout the movie. I can’t help thinking that Marnie would quickly become like the leopard in the picture – just a trophy of his triumphs. Meaning he’d quickly tire of her now he had fulfilled his accomplishment. Mark so coldly tells Marnie his first wife is dead. Perhaps he tired of her too… Marks desire to tame a woman was also echoed by the supporting character – Lil. She is totally infatuated with Mark, but she is also already willing to do anything Mark pleases. There is no challenge in that. And so I doubt Mark would ever have found her attractive.

Anyway, to conclude, Marnie is most definitely a puzzling, solid thriller that will see you reading into every word and every scene. I will leave you with two little gems – firstly, this picture of Hitch in Marnie – once again he inserted himself into his movie… And also this charming quote from the production of the film.

After rehearsing just a few scenes with co-star Sean Connery,  Tippi Hendren asked Alfred Hitchcock, “Marnie is supposed to be frigid – have you seen him?” referring to the young Connery. Hitchcock’s reply was reportedly, “Yes, my dear, it’s called acting.”

It's like spotting 'Where's Wally!'

Overall, a tantalizing watch and a psychologist’s wet dream… A solid 8/10.

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I thought since I was doing the 30 day movie challenge on facebook, I’d share some of my thoughts on here. I am in no way I movie expert, I have had not film studies training. However, you’d be hard pushed to find someone who has seen as many films as I have, and I like to think of myself more along the lines of Mr Joe Bloggs ideal movie reviewer (Or Ms. Josephine Bloggs Winking smile). So while you are likely to disagree with my opinion, and certain to liken my taste of film to picking Lambrini over Chardonnay – I hope you can appreciate my witty take on things, and will see were I’m coming from, if only by a fraction. Also, I’m an impatient soul so if you find my speeding up in terms of days – don’t worry, no your calendar is not deceiving you!

Day 1: Favourite film

Not an easy choice. But if there is to be a film that I love for its shear genius, and how it makes me feel as a viewer, there is really only one contender.

Rear Window; Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart and Grace Kelly.

Why?

Hitchcock was a pioneer in so many ways, but Rear Window truly cemented his title as the master of suspense more than any other of his previous outings. Sure, ‘Psycho’ was like nothing no one had ever seen, and ‘The Birds’ captured viewers in new and different ways but it was ‘Rear Window’ that hooked you in, and kept hold of you from start to finish. There is no film where Grace Kelly is more elegant – which is one mean feat. And the genius involved to have the presence of mind to shoot a film in the same room from start to finish, might seem mundane now – but Hitchcock was always one for firsts. There is something about looking out Jeffries window when Lisa is trapped in Thorwald’s apartment that is so entrancing that you feel not only as helpless as our protagonist, but trapped too.

There truly will never be a better thriller than it, and even if there is candidate for that, you can guarantee those who made it will have taken from Hitchcock’s work in some way. That is why it’s my number 1 movie.