On Second Thought: “Marnie”

IMG_0336.JPGClassics, classics, classics. What makes a film a classic? I guess that’s a subjective question, but it always has me wondering. Is it because it’s good or was considered so by many at one point? Another mystery. However, what’s not a mystery, but a great question, is why do I keep watching films that absolutely bore me, especially when I know they will?

The Universal Pictures classic film (ha!) “Marnie”, is another fine example of why I should just stay away from these types of films. No, not psychological thrillers or thrillers, just this director’s films.

This psychological thriller stars Sean Connery (“Playing By Heart”, “The Untouchables”), Tippi Hedren (“The Ghost and the Whale”, “Return to Babylon”), Martin Gabel (“The First Deadly Sin”, “Contract on Cherry”), Louise Latham (“The X-Files”, “ER”), Diane Baker (“The Surrogate”, “Hemingway & Gellhorn”), and Alan Napier (“Batman (1960 TV series)”, “36 Hours”).

The film is directed by Alfred Hitchcock (“Psycho”, “Rear Window”) and written by Jay Presson Allen (“Prince of the City”, “Cabaret”). It is based on the book of the same name by Winston Graham.

The film originally opened in theaters on July 22, 1964.

To get it out of the way quickly I’ll begin with the dull pacing of this film. It’s not exactly screaming watch me! It’s unfortunate as every one of Hitchcock’s films, that I’ve seen, all seem to suffer from this same issue. Why? He was supposed to be some kind of genius with the majority of the films he directed. I dare say I can’t say why people think this is so. I’m sure I would’ve been bored stiff watching one of his film when they originally came out. Now, I’ll admit, that part of his appeal was/is that he could build suspense. For me, at the very least, it’s that he tried. I can appreciate that. But, seeing this film, and the others, I can’t say he did that. Just made me regret that I was wasting a good two hours on an overall boring film.

Okay, there. That’s done.

As I keep discovering, about many older films, the coloring is spectacular. That, even after all these years, it somehow still holds up really well. Now, I don’t know if that’s because of restorations or what not, but it gives me something to look at and forward too as well. Maybe not everything that’s seen is a spectacular bit of color, but when there’s so much brightness in an otherwise dark film, it makes all the difference. It could also be, somehow, that the people back then just knew how to use color, lighting and editing tricks really well. They wanted something that would pop and stand out to the audience, and those that would come years later.

While it’s exciting to see some early film of Connery’s, that doesn’t involve him being the terrible spy James Bond, it’s also a bit of a letdown. Now a part of this sentiment is rooted in the fact that his character is completely unlikable, but I feel that that is okay, as that’s the point of his character. There’s also that the acting in this film, coming from him, just seemed to be really bad. However, when you look at most films from this time period, you can’t be overly surprised. I believe that the majority of actors at that time simply couldn’t act, but not many people said anything about. At least publicly. To make matters worse for his virtually lifeless performance, is that he was using an accent. Well, the man’s Scottish, and hiding an accent that’s pretty thick is not an easy one. He did his best, mind you, but it was still noticeable and for me, distracting. More so because, and this isn’t surprising there’s no explanation for this in the story, or one expected. Apparently, just because you’re some really well known actor that doesn’t mean all your film roles will be great, or even near perfect.
Hedren was okay in this film. Much like her previous film “The Birds” the acting was okay, but wooden. I’m not sure if it’s just the style back then, but for her, there never seemed to be much life in the performance. Overall, yeah, she kind of looked like her character was very spirited, but when trying to latch onto things to pay attention for, her acting was not that thing. I feel, and the more I think on it, the more it escapes me, that there was more to why her performance was uninteresting, but I think that may have more to do with the story itself than anything.

The story itself is simple. Don’t get me wrong it’s pretty easy to understand. However, when watching it, the idea following along with what’s happening may prove trickier than you’d expect. As usual, most of this is brought on by how slow and boring it is. Sure I could stay awake but I wasn’t entirely motivated to pay a large amount of attention. Weird, I know. So, when you group all this together, you have a film that barely understandable. My lack of interest allowed me to drift in and out of sections, and then become confused when something major appears to have happened. I’d rewind the film a few times to try and piece together what I’d missed, but somehow, I still seemed to be lost in what was happening. I should’ve just left the room altogether for whatever good the actual sitting and watching was doing. I feel that the only time anything made any sense was the end, when it answered every question posed. Why was Marnie the way she was? Now, the answer and finale was great and all, but that’s primarily due to the fact that it signaled the end of the film. For a film that had so much going on, it couldn’t move me to care one tiny bit.

For someone who’s seen numerous Hitchcock films, and can appreciate the older films, it’s really a disappointment to not find this one all that exciting. I could be the only one and that’s fine, but still it’s strange. Stranger so when I tell you this. I absolutely adore and enjoy “Psycho” and “The Birds”. Mind you, they seem to be the two required of his you should enjoy, but I’m sure there are those out there that would disagree. In my case, I think it’s because I basically grew up with those two films in some major way or the other. Culminating, at some point, with actually watching the films in their entirety, numerous times. Now they’re a staple. Or, as sometimes can happen, you may find yourself loving a few films of a particular director, but never anything else. No matter how many films, or when they were made, that director never catches your interest the same way he/she did once before.

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