Universally despised on its first release, Marnie (1964) remains one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest and darkest achievements. Tippi Hedren, in a performance based on a naked, anxious vulnerability, is a compulsive thief; Sean Connery is the neurotically motivated southern gentleman who catches her in the act and blackmails her into marriage. The examination of sexual power plays surpasses Fassbinder's films, which Marnie thematically resembles, going beyond a simple dichotomy of strength and weakness into a dense, shifting field of masochism, class antagonism, religious transgression, and the collective unconscious. The mise-en-scene tends toward a painterly abstraction, as Hitchcock employs powerful masses, blank colors, and studiously unreal, spatially distorted settings. Theme and technique meet on the highest level of film art. With Diane Baker and Louise Latham.
By Dave Kehr