Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brody on Hitchcock's "Marnie"

Given that I've talked up Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie" (being aired today at 1:15 p.m., est, by Turner Classic Movies) ad nauseum, I'm turning this space over to Richard Brody, the esteemed movie-listings editor for The New Yorker magazine and the author of “Everything Is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard.”

In the May 18th issue, Brody had this to say about Hitch's minor masterpiece, when it was screened recently at BAM in New York as part of a program devoted to late-career films by major directors:

"Tippi Hedren’s cool grace in 'The Birds' hardly prepares a viewer for her porcelain froideur as a sexually traumatized kleptomaniac in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychologically resonant, visually transcendent film, from 1964. Sean Connery co-stars as a businessman who hires Marnie as his secretary, lusts mightily after her, and, catching her with a hand in his till, takes it upon himself to win her heart—and, above all, her body—by healing her mind. Borrowing liberally from himself (notably, several tropes from 'Spellbound,' 'Vertigo,' and 'Psycho'), Hitchcock gives his obsessions luridly free rein—intentionally and not. He was, in fact, obsessed with Hedren, whose rejections he repaid with harsh treatment, and it shows in his images: few films have looked as longingly and as relentlessly at a woman, few onscreen gazes at an actress have so perfectly crystallized an integral and unique style of performance, and few performances have so precisely defined a director’s world view, even unto the vanishing point. He could, and did, go no further."


Jeff said...


Ed Howard said...

I find this film so fascinating, even more so than some of Hitch's "better" films. It's just so bizarre, so packed with psychosexual excesses -- and visually, the artificiality of its design is a perfect counterpoint to Hedren's chilly reserve.