Marnie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A mediocre transfer at best, this one suffered from a mix of problems.
Sharpness appeared rather inconsistent. Some of this looked intentional; Hitchcock loved to use soft focus on his leading ladies, so most shots of Hedren seemed mildly fuzzy. A good number of other scenes looked reasonably crisp and well-defined, but softness affected much of the film even when it didn't include Hedren. There was a lack of delineation to too many parts of the movie.
Moiré effects and jagged edges popped up occasionally, and I noticed mild edge enhancement through the film. The print itself betrayed moderate grain throughout much of the movie plus a mix of other defects. The presentation suffered from specks, marks, spots, nicks and other small blemishes. These didn’t become overwhelming, but they created fairly consistent distractions.
Colors appeared muted for the most part but looked generally accurate. I rarely viewed any bright or bold hues, but what I saw seemed acceptable. Black levels were nicely deep and rich - especially as seen through Connery's dark suits - and shadow detail appeared perfectly fine, with appropriately dense images. Marnie lost points for softness and for print flaws, and those meant I couldn’t give it a grade above a “C”.
The film's monaural soundtrack seemed similarly unexceptional. Dialogue sounded vaguely muffled and flat but remained clear and intelligible at all times. Bernard Herrmann's score appeared crisp and bright, though somewhat thin, and effects were similarly accurately defined but without much heft. All aspects of the mix lack any noticeable low end. Even during the thunderstorms, the audio remained bound to the mid-range. The track lacked distortion or any form of flaws such as tape hiss or crackling. For a film from 1964, the audio for Marnie sounded acceptable but no better.
Marnie arrives as another in Universal's terrific "Collector's
Edition" series. While it doesn't match up with some of those other DVDs - both Psycho and The Birds provide superior supplements - Marnie nonetheless gives us some quality extras.
First up is a terrific documentary called The Trouble With Marnie. This piece runs for 58 minutes and 20 seconds and incorporates the usual melange of contemporary interviews with surviving participants and liberal helpings of film clips and production shots. It also presents a nice selection of script pages and memos as well. In the former category we find cast members Hedren, Diane Baker, and Louise Latham, rejected screenwriters Joseph Stefano and Evan Hunter, final screenwriter Jay Presson Allen, daughter Pat Hitchcock O'Connell, production designer Robert Boyle, makeup artist Howard Smit, unit manager Hilton Green, Hitchcock historian Robin Wood, filmmaker, Bernard Herrman biographer Steven C. Smith, and Hitchcock fan Peter Bogdanovich.
As usual, this is a fine piece that succinctly and entertainingly summarizes the production of Marnie. The participants offer a lot of great information and anecdotes, and they all appear candid about the film and are not afraid to criticize it. I found it most valuable to hear from screenwriters Stefano and Hunter, since their work got left behind, but the entire program includes a lot of strong material. Frankly, I enjoyed the documentary more than I liked the film itself.
The Marnie Archives presents a collection of movie posters plus production and publicity stills. Unlike the usual "stillframe" pieces, this one presents the material in a running nine-minute video montage that features Herrmann's score along with the images; Universal used this method on their "Classic Monsters" DVDs but I hadn't seen it elsewhere until now. Anyway, it's a nice series of stills that deserves a look.
Marnie's theatrical trailer appears. Like many other Hitchcock previews, this four minute and 45 second clip is quite entertaining and amusing. Hitchcock's ads were always much more clever and witty than others, and this one's no exception.
Finally, the DVD includes some decent text production notes that provide a few additional details about the creation of the film. Cast and Filmmakers provides brief and sketchy biographies for four actors (Hedren, Connery, Baker, and Martin Gabel) and Hitchcock plus a "Recommendations" section that just shows some titles and package art; no trailers appear in that area. While this DVD contains some nice extras - particularly the documentary - I still felt it didn't compete with the more compelling and well-rounded supplements found on Psycho and The Birds.
The same goes for Marnie itself, which offers a mildly provocative experience but doesn't live up to the standards Hitchcock established in those other films. As for the DVD, the picture and sound are perfectly mediocre, and the extras are good but not great.
Chalk this one up as a middling effort from both Hitchcock and Universal; it merits a rental, but I can't espouse anything more than that.
To rate this film visit the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection review of MARNIE