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Movie Review - Marnie (1964 - United States)

Updated on February 10, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock originally asked Grace Kelly to play the deeply disturbed Marnie of the title, but she backed out after her husband, Monaco’s Prince Ranier, read the script and realized that it's a story about a sexually repressed victim of childhood abuse who is also a kleptomaniac.

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Watch the 1964 trailer!

He then cast Tippi Hendren, with whom he had worked on The Birds, as the blonde ice princess with a heart of, well, ice. During the filming of Marnie, according to Hedren, she become the object of the director’s intense erotic obsession, an allegation supported by similar tales from others of his leading ladies. Regrettably, in retaliation for her public complaints, Hedren was held to a very detrimental contract which destroyed her career—a shame, because her work in Marnie is not only unforgettable, it set the bar very high for actors portraying complex, psychologically broken characters.

As if that isn't intriguing enough, Sean Connery's Mark Rutledge falls in love with Marnie only because of all of that-—it's her mental fragility that he responds to. I first saw this film when I was in my 20's, and I thought the "love story" was absolutely chilling on a visceral level: Mark Rutledge doesn't want to cure Marnie, he wants to pin her down, dissect and own her. Seeing it again decades later has not altered my opinion on that, it’s instead made me appreciate that even at such a young age I understood just how twisted this story is.

For all of those reasons, as well as Hitch's trademark camera genius, which here allows him to watch unobtrusively while the story reveals itself to us (the sequence where Marnie robs the safe is deservedly famous), I recommend this picture. It's unsettling and I think one of those films that plays differently for each gender, thereby opening the door to a great debriefing after the film is over.

Highly recommended.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Rated: PG

Running Time: 2 hr. 9 min.

On DVD: May 30, 2000

Distributor:MCA Universal Home Video

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

Written By: Jay Presson Allen

(Note: Although this film carries a PG rating, it will bore young audiences and might prove disturbing to teens.)


Tippi Hedren - Marnie Edgar

Sean Connery - Mark Rutland

Diane Baker - Lil Mainwaring

Martin Gabel - Sidney Strutt

Louise Latham - Bernice Edgar Mamie's mother

Bruce Dern - Sailor

Bob Sweeney - Cousin Bob

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What you think of Marnie?

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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Marnie is, I agree, not Hitchcock's best, but it has an audacious premise and there are a few really memorable passages it in, most notably the safe robbery scene, and of course the rape. My favorite Hitchcock films are Vertigo, Strangers on a Train and Notorious, by the way, each of which is very unsettling in their own particular way. Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I enjoy this film a lot more than some people do. However, having seen all of Hitchcock's movies he made since moving to Hollywood, nearly all his British talkies and many of his silents (I'm still missing some silents and one or two British talkies), I'd have to say if I were to list them in order of preference, Marnie wouldn't make my top 10 or even top 15. It's a very strong film, but for me it just misses excellence and not on par with Rear Window or Notorious. By the way, Hitchcock is my favourite director of all time.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      It is a great film on many levels. And *very* interesting that Hitchcock made what we now see as a feminist-viewpoint film when his personal life was so filled with...well "conflicts" over women is putting it politely.

      Another example would be his "Notorious" (1946), a great film and intriguingly seen thru the eyes of the female main character (Ingrid Bergman).

    • pooilum profile image

      pooilum 6 years ago from Malaysia

      This movie looks kind of interesting. I think i will check it out

    • Adrian Lavelle profile image

      Adrian Lavelle 6 years ago from Galway, Ireland

      Great film, a real piece of feminist work in cinema, the objects of ones desire and her power over her subject are amazingly portrayed, had to study this in film school, feminist cinema, more interesting than I thought it would be, it's amazing how directors from set cult genres were feminist in their work, i.e. Hitchock and more recently Tarantino...