Marnie

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MARNIE  is a beautiful, frigid, psyche-scarred kleptomaniac who presents an erotic challenge and mental puzzle to her millionaire bachelor employer. Her traumas and their relationship constitute the story in this fairly fascinating psychological character study, given a mystery bent from the magic wand of director-producer Alfred Hitchcock.

Upon its release in 1964, it was jumped by reviewers as being sub-par for Hitch, but its reputation has been elevated in the light that even grade-B Alfred beats grade-A offerings from most pups who seek to emulate him.

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Tippi Hedren does an exemplary job of shading iciness and compulsion with hurt and panic. Co-star Sean Connery as usual commands almost every scene he’s in with the magnetic assurance that’s his trademark. Diane Baker is a drawback, she comes off thanklessly bland next to the leads. You won’t care for Louise Latham, either, but it’s intended as she plays a meanie and does it well.

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 Giving the 130 unhurried minutes a lushly haunting underpinning is another great soundtrack from Bernard Herrmann, in his last collaboration with the mood-precise director, whose tension-torquing visions he’d complemented and enhanced in a slew of classics.

Some of Robert Burks process photography and several of the set backdrops are pitifully phony (thank Universal’s legendary cheapness with a buck and Hitchcock being uncharacteristically lazy with some finishing touches: the horse-riding shots are jarringly off), but generally Burks’ camera skill and use of color is striking and the story (fine script by Jay Presson Allen) so engrossing you won’t much begrudge the occasional sloppiness.

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This suspenser marked the end of Hitchcock’s grand run, and along with being composer Herrmann’s seventh and final work for the director, it was the last of twelve partnerings from cameraman Burks, and the final assignment for Hitchcock’s favorite editor, George Tomasini (who died later that same year).

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With assist from Martin Gabel, Alan Napier, Milton Selzer, Henry Beckman, Mariette Hartley, Bruce Dern (watch that shoe!)  and Harold Gould. Quick eyes will spot Rupert Crosse, as a janitor, five years before his score in The Reivers.  At a cost of $3,000,000, it brought in $7,860,000 in America, landing on spot #30 for the year.

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