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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Alfred Hitchcock
Cast:
Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel, Louise Latham, Bob Sweeney, Milton Selzer, Mariette Hartley, Alan Napier
Writing Credits:
Winston Graham (novel), Jay Presson Allen

Tagline:
Thief ... Liar ... Cheat ... she was all of these and he knew it!

Synopsis:
Hitchcock creates a masterful psychological thriller about a compulsive liar and thief (Tippi Hedren), who winds up marrying the very man (Sean Connery) she attempts to rob. When a terrible accident pushes her over the edge, her husband struggles to help her face her demons as the plot races to an inescapable conclusion.

Box Office:
Budget
$3.0 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Monaural
French Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 131 min.
Price: $119.98
Release Date: 10/4/2005
Available Only as Part of Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection.

Bonus:
• "The Trouble With Marnie" Documentary
• “The Marnie Archives”
• Theatrical Trailer
• Production Notes


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Marnie: Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection (1964)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 31, 2006)

One pattern emerges when I watch the work of Alfred Hitchcock: I seem to prefer his movies that go more for a horror vibe. As such, Psycho and The Birds have been my favorite Hitchcock flicks so far.

I must admit that I've haven't been as enchanted by some of his psychological thrillers. Actually, I rather liked 1940's Rebecca but despite its enormously strong reputation, 1958's Vertigo left me vaguely flat.

Add 1964's Marnie to the list of good Hitchcock movies that just don't do a lot for me. I found the film to be moderately compelling, but it seemed more like stock Hitchcock and lacked much of the flair of his other efforts.

One aspect I disliked about Marnie stemmed from the dime-store psychology it featured. Plenty of movies utilize psychological themes in their stories, but few hinge so strongly on a Freudian point of view. The whole movie revolves around us eventually finding out Marnie's ('Tippi' Hedren) deep dark secret, which is presented as the key to her problems. The entire thing is built up so heavily that when the revelation is revealed, it seems almost anti-climactic and predictable, and the fact that all of her issues and the things that trigger her "episodes" all clearly relate back to this one event stretches things.

The psychoanalytic bent of Marnie also means that we're "treated" to scenes in which her male pursuer Mark (Sean Connery) runs Marnie through a series of psychological exercises such as free association. As I later learned in this DVD's documentary, the film was supposed to include a character who was a psychiatrist but those bits were incorporated into Mark's role to make the part more appealing to stars. Unfortunately, that makes for some absurd viewing as Connery tries to play amateur psychologist and figure out what's wrong with Marnie.

I had a hard time figuring out why he cared so much. Yeah, Hedren's a babe, and I guess some guys like a challenge, but Marnie exhibited very few positive characteristics other than her beauty. The fact she's a raving nutbag should have been enough to scare Mark away, but I guess the aspiring shrink in him couldn't resist the experience.

It didn't help that Hedren offers a pretty bad performance. Marnie has to go through a wide variety of emotional states and Hedren simply wasn't up to the task. She did perfectly well for herself in The Birds, but that role required little from her other than icy beauty and abject fear. When required to flesh out a performance and create a very complicated person, Hedren can't do it, and Marnie comes across as little more than peeved most of the time.

Connery seems decent as Mark, though his performance also lacks complexity. He appears somewhat stuck in Bond mode and doesn't do much with the emotional range needed for the part. He remains fairly stoic and suave throughout the film. Actually, this helps Marnie in an odd way; since we know Bond loves a challenge, we can better understand 007 pursuing this babe than we could accept a more fully-realized normal person doing it. (However, I doubt Bond would tolerate Marnie's refusal to allow physical contact - somehow I can't see him work this hard to get into Marnie's pants.)

In addition to the less-than-convincing performances from the leads, Marnie simply is much too long. The film runs for 130 minutes, which is at least 30 too many. The story would seem redundant in the best of circumstances - over and over we see how screwed up Marnie is - but the extended length makes the reinforcement of these points even more tiresome. I think a shorter, tighter cut would have made the film much more compelling.

Though I'm not sure how much more interesting it could become, just because all of the "plot twists" seem telegraphed. I don't want to discuss them in case they may spoil it for you, but we easily figure out the background to Marnie's various aversions - the color red, men, loud noises - which makes the climax all the less stimulating and revealing.

Hitchcock does little to make the story more exciting. A few scenes appear especially well-staged - one in which Marnie tries to sneak out of a building past a cleaning woman is terrific - but most use such obvious and overbearing symbolism that they seem more like imitation Hitchcock than the real thing. Despite all these criticisms, I still found Marnie to be watchable and mildly entertaining, but it clearly pales in comparison with Hitchcock's better work.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

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. This DVD offered a noticeable improvement over the 2000 release.

Sharpness appeared good within the limitations of the photographic style. Most of the softness looked intentional. Hitchcock used a lot of focus for close-ups, so those often seemed a bit murky. Other shots were consistently crisp and well-defined, though; the softness was only a problem with close-ups.

Jagged edges weren’t an issue, and only a little shimmering occurred. I noticed no signs of edge enhancement. The print itself showed light grain at times but was largely free from other defects. Occasional examples of specks and grit appeared, but these were minor, especially compared to the dirtier 2000 transfer.

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. I think Hitchcock kept the palette subdued to make reds stand out more prominently, and this worked. Some nice yellows and greens emerged as well. Black levels were deep and rich - especially as seen through Connery's dark suits - and shadow detail appeared perfectly fine, with appropriately dense images.

With better definition, stronger colors and fewer print flaws, the 2005 Marine was a significant improvement over the 2000 transfer. While that one earned a “C” for picture, this one merited a “B”, and I flip-flopped between that grade and a “B+”. This was an eminently satisfying image given the restrictions of the source material.

I also thought the film's monaural soundtrack offered improvements over the audio heard on the prior DVD. Despite some awkwardly dubbed lines, dialogue sounded fairly natural and full. The lines remained clear and intelligible at all times. Bernard Herrmann's score appeared crisp and bright, and effects were similarly accurately defined.

When compared to the old DVD, bass seemed better. Low-end wasn’t terrific, but the track showed pretty decent bass when necessary. 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 good.

As we head to the extras, we open with 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 “Tippi” 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, Bernard Herrman biographer Steven C. Smith, and Hitchcock fan/filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich.

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. 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. The 2005 DVD drops “Cast and Crew” biographies from the original release.

Marnie offers a mildly provocative experience but doesn't live up to the standards Hitchcock established in prior films. As for the DVD, the picture and sound are quite good, and the small set of extras comes with one terrific documentary.

Note that this version of Marnie originally appeared only as part of the 15-DVD Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection. This massive release also includes Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, The Trouble With Harry, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, The Birds, Torn Curtain, Psycho, Topaz, Frenzy, Family Plot, and a disc of bonus materials.

However, a separate release of this Marnie DVD hit the shelves on February 7, 2006. This release is clearly worth an upgrade for fans of the flick, as it provides improved picture and sound. I think the Masterpiece Collection is a terrific bargain for what you get, but if you don’t want/need the other DVDs, grab the single-disc Marnie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.8333 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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