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Note: As of this writing, a high-quality version of this film can be found for free at this URL: http://ffilms.org/marnie-1964/. For those trying to find Hitchcock's cameo, this is the *one* time it will be impossible to miss. *** SPOILER ALERT *** Okay, there's something about "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren) that's more than meets the eye - instead of simply being a shrewd, serial bandit which is obvious from the very beginning, you have two very disturbing scenes in the first thirty minutes: the "dream scene" at her mother's (Louise Latham's) house, which culminates with her mother, Bernice Edgar, taking a very "Hitchcockian" stroll back down the stairs, and the "spilled red ink" scene at Mark Rutland's (Sean Connery's) office. The viewer should also bear in mind that, at this point, there isn't necessarily a reason to believe that Marnie knows that Mark Rutland is a major client of Sidney Strutt's (Martin Gabel's), from whom she stole almost $10,000 to start the movie - but she *might* know, as she's obviously a very resourceful woman, and might have deduced this while working for Mr. Strutt. Sean Connery does not play fools - there's something a *little* too easy about Marnie bearing witness to this five-digit safe combination in the desk drawer of Rutland's office - they apparently had the perfect candidate right before Marnie interviewed - could Rutland have suspected something from the very start? It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I've learned not to try and outguess Hitchcock (that's the surest way to make a fool of yourself). And yet, he gives her a paper to type about arboreal predators in the Brazilian rainforest, making it very clear that most predators are women - we're being messed with. Master of Suspense bastard! I wonder if this scene of Rutland kissing Marnie had any influence on "Eyes Wide Shut": 1'30" into this 2'10"-long movie, I am as confused as I've ever been with any Hitchcock film - "The Wrong Man," this isn't: I have no idea why anybody is doing anything that they're doing. The "obvious solution," which is being planted into our heads, is too obvious - and it would *really* make this movie dated, whereas one of Hitchcock's trademarks are a timeless quality to most of his works. Every hunch I'd thought of may have been overturned by the question, "Are you still in the mood for killing?" Hitchcock is like Bach: In a Bach Prelude, Fugue, or pretty much anything else, there aren't any superfluous notes (think about it after hearing the question asked (*)). Well, the "obvious solution" happened - with a twist to the twist, of course. I was getting ready to say this was, at best, an average picture, and certainly a sub-average picture for Hitchcock. After having watched the entire film, I still think it's a sub-par Hitchcock film, but I think "Marnie" is a decent motion picture, worth seeing if you're a Hitchcock fan; not necessarily worth seeing if you're looking for true greatness. This is a good film; it's just not a great one. Not having seen either "Frenzy" or "Family Plot," I'm wondering if "The Birds" was Hitchcock's last great movie (Edit: I forgot about "Torn Curtain" and "Topaz," neither of which I've seen either, but for both of which I have greater optimism.) And the final question tonight on Jeopardy: What attracted Sean Connery to Marnie, especially given the thefts? I can see a physical attraction, but to take it as far as he did simply doesn't make any sense at all. (*) This unanswered question remains one of the great unanswered mysteries of this film.
*** SPOILER ALERT *** --- Do not read past this point if you haven't seen the movie. In the scene which takes place in Jimmy Malone's (Sean Connery's) house (there's only one in the entire film), shortly before he winds up his Victrola, and the knife-man sneaks in, Amazon X-Ray says "References: 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971)," but it doesn't say how. Furthermore, a ten-minute internet search revealed absolutely no details of any reference to "A Clockwork Orange" during this scene, and I've seen A Clockwork Orange at least five times. Does anyone know what the reference is? Incidentally, this scene contains one of my all-time favorite movie lines - when Jimmy Malone looks up at Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), and with his final bit of energy, choking on his own blood, does his best to scream out (and it's the third time in the movie he says this), "What are you prepared to do?!" I believe it was this single line that might have put Sean Connery over-the-top for winning the Best Supporting Actor Award. Shortly afterwards, at the train station, the "other" scene that everyone remembers from this film is the baby carriage rolling down the stairs backwards. This is a direct homage to the legendary "Odessa Steps" scene from "The Battleship Potemkin" (I've started the video just before it occurs - feel free to rewind and watch the entire scene). Incidentally, even though nobody has picked up on this in twelve years, this post, too, was an homage to the same scene (if you watch to the end, you'll understand why). It was also an homage to bacon; just not that kind of bacon. It was also one of the best posts I've ever written, and can be found in "DonRocks' Greatest Hits."
Every so often I'll get on a James Bond kick and start watching as many as I can, until my appetite is sated. On this latest binge session, I've decided to watch at least one from each actor. It's hard to separate the man from the quality of the movie, but the Brosnan era movies are not aging well. There's a heavy reliance on early internet jargon and quasi technological plots from the villians. The Dalton movies are interesting, you can tell the 80s action movie influence. I think they do hold up pretty well. The Connery movies are real slow for the most part, and by the end of his run you can tell he's just cashing his paycheck. Lazenby is Lazenby, its basically just a silly movie. Which leaves us with Moore and Craig. The three Craig movies are very good movies, not just good Bond movies. When his run is over, he could top the list. But now, in my opinion, Roger Moore leads the pack. I've watched live and let die and a view to a kill, his first and last, this time around, and he does a great job of portraying Bond. From 1973 to 1985, he was James Bond, an impressive streak for any actor to hold down a role. He was also the first Bond I saw, which is why I hold his version in such high regard.