Fifty-seven years ago today, the film Marnie premiered. I won’t choose my favorite Hitchcock film or my favorite Hitchcock blonde. You shouldn’t either until you have seen the all multiple times.
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by: Jay Presson Allen
Based on: Marnie by Winston Graham
Starring: Tippi Hedren, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Martin Gabel
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Edited by: George Tomasini
Production company: Geoffrey Stanley Productions
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release date: July 22, 1964 (New York City)
Running time: 130 minutes
Budget: $3 million
Box office: $7 million
Marian Holland charmed Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel), head of a tax consulting company, into hiring her without references. Some months later, she steals nearly $10,000 from the company safe and flees. Changing her appearance and identity, Marian, whose real name is Margaret “Marnie” Edgar (Tippi Hedren), travels to Virginia where she stables a horse named Forio. She then visits her invalid mother, Bernice (Louise Latham), whom she supports financially, in Baltimore.
Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), a wealthy widower who owns a publishing company in Philadelphia, meets with Strutt on business. He learns about the robbery and recalls Marnie from a previous visit. Some months later, Marnie, posing as Mary Taylor, happens to apply to Mark’s company and is hired after he recognizes her. While working weekend overtime with Mark, Marnie has a panic attack during a thunderstorm. Mark comforts then kisses her. They begin seeing each other socially. It is learned that Marnie suffers from bad dreams and the color red can trigger an extreme emotional reaction.
Soon after, Marnie steals money from Mark’s company and again flees. Mark tracks her to the stable where she keeps Forio. Unexpectedly, he blackmails her into marrying him, much to the chagrin of Mark’s former sister-in-law, Lil (Diane Baker), who is in love with Mark. Lil grows suspicious when she discovers Mark has spent a considerable sum since marrying Marnie. On their honeymoon cruise, Marnie is repulsed by any physical intimacy. Mark initially respects her wishes, but later forces himself on her. The next morning, she attempts to drown herself in the ship’s swimming pool, but Mark saves her.
Lil tips off Mark that Marnie’s mother is still alive and living in Baltimore. Mark hires a private detective to investigate. Meanwhile, Lil overhears Mark telling Marnie that he has “paid off Strutt” on her behalf. Lil mischievously invites Strutt and his wife to a large party at the Rutland mansion. Strutt recognizes Marnie, but Mark persuades him to say nothing. When Marnie later admits to additional robberies, Mark works to reimburse her victims in exchange for dropping charges.
Mark brings Forio to their estate, pleasing Marnie. During a fox hunt, Forio bolts. After a wild gallop, Forio misses a jump and breaks a leg, and lies on the ground screaming in pain. Marnie frantically runs to a nearby house and manages to obtain a gun and shoots her horse. Crazed with grief, Marnie goes home where she finds the key to Mark’s office. She then goes to the office, opens the safe, and finds herself unable to take the money she wants to steal, even after Mark arrives and “urges” her to take it.
Mark forcibly takes Marnie to Baltimore to confront her mother and extract the truth about Marnie’s past. They arrive in a thunderstorm. As it is revealed that Bernice was a prostitute, Marnie’s long-suppressed memories resurface: when she was a small child, one of Bernice’s clients, (Bruce Dern) tried to calm a frightened Marnie during a thunderstorm. Seeing him touch Marnie and believing he was trying to molest her, Bernice attacked him. As the man fended her off, she fell and injured her leg, leaving her disabled. Marnie, frightened and attempting to protect her mother, fatally struck the man in the head with a fireplace poker. Bernice told police that she herself killed the man and prayed Marnie would forget the event. She had become pregnant as a young, unmarried girl, and says she has always loved Marnie. Understanding the reason behind her behavior, Marnie asks for Mark’s help. He promises to help her. They leave holding each other closely.