Marnie appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A messy presentation, the image became tough to swallow.
Normally I welcome grain, but the grain of Marnie created substantial distractions, and not just because it pervaded the movie. The nature of the grain became an issue, as it often looked like someone tried to scrub the grain, decided this didn’t work and then added artificial grain.
This left the movie with enormous chunks of grain that obscured much of the image’s potential positives. As such, sharpness usually appeared mediocre at best.
Some of that stemmed from the soft “glamour photography” Hitchcock liked to utilize for leading ladies, but so much of the movie remained ill-defined that the concerns couldn’t be chalked up to cinematography. Occasionally I saw a shot that seemed accurate, but much of the flick appeared iffy and mushy.
Some minor examples of jagged edges and moiré effects appeared, and I saw some mild edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I noticed occasional specks and marks. These didn’t dominate, but they created distractions.
Colors tended toward a brown orientation and they usually seemed bland. Occasional reds offered decent impact, though those swarms of grain muted their prominence. Overall, hues appeared bland.
Blacks were acceptably dense – if a little crushed – while shadows tended to seem flat and somewhat inky. Ultimately, the absurd, unnatural grain became the dominant problem here, and the end result felt borderline unwatchable.
At least the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack held up pretty well over the last 55 years. 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. At no point did the audio surpass era-based expectations, but the mix worked fine.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the prior 2005 DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar, as the lossless Blu-ray track boasted a smidgen more range but not much given the nature of the source.
As for visuals, the Blu-ray failed to become an improvement. The dominant grain of the BD made it tough to take, so this image was DVD quality at best most of the time.
The Blu-ray replicates almost all of the extras from the DVD, and we open with a terrific documentary called The Trouble With Marnie. This piece runs for 58 minutes, 26 seconds and incorporates comments from 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, one-second video montage that features Herrmann's score along with the images. It's a nice series of elements 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.
Marnie offers a mildly provocative experience but doesn't live up to the standards Hitchcock established in prior films. It’s better than some of Hitch’s subsequent movies but it’s a steep drop from its predecessors. As for the Blu-ray, it offers relatively good audio and an informative documentary but picture quality seems surprisingly bad. The weak visuals make this a disappointing Blu-ray.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of MARNIE