director Alfred Hitchcock
I rounded out my Hitchcock mini-marathon with his 1964 film, Marnie.
After two of Hitchcock’s top-notch black-and-white film noirs, Marnie is a colorful, intensely sexist failure. Sean Connery is the embodiment of smugness as Mark Rutland, the rich, entitled businessman who falls for the iciest of blondes, Marnie (Tippi Hedren). See, she’s an ice queen but also a klepto-thief, whose frigidity dates back to some childhood horror, relived when she encounters large splotches of RED. The RED is emphasized by Hitchcock with flashes of RED, more William Castle than the “master of suspense.”
It’s Freudian in the worst way, the most oversimplified, obvious way.
Its Mad Men era misogyny is the real deal. It’s not just the male gaze here, but the male cure for the broken female. Of course, Mark is able to solve the riddle of Marnie, but manages to force her into marriage and rape her on the honeymoon (the former part of this sentence is metaphorical but the latter part is amazingly literal). Considering Hitchcock’s rumored cruelties and harassment of Hedren, these narrative tropes of emboldened sexism are even more loathsome.
Where in Vertigo (1958), the cruelties laid out upon the icy blonde reflect the vengeful nature of the male lead, no such protection or redemption is here for Marnie. It’s tone and themes are stark and more than distasteful. And yet it remains a “pretty” picture.