Marnie (film)

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Original film poster
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay by Jay Presson Allen
Based on Marnie 
by Winston Graham
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Robert Burks
Edited by George Tomasini
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 22, 1964 (1964-07-22)
Running time
130 minutes
Language English
Budget $3 million
Box office $7,000,000[1]

Marnie is a 1964 psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by Jay Presson Allen was based on the 1961 novel of the same name by Winston Graham. The film stars Tippi Hedren and Sean Connery.

The music was composed by Bernard Herrmann, his last of seven critically acclaimed film scores for Hitchcock. Marnie also marked the end of Hitchcock's collaborations with cinematographer Robert Burks (his twelfth film for Hitchcock) and editor George Tomasini (who died later in the year).


Margaret "Marnie" Edgar (Tippi Hedren) is a troubled young woman who has an unnatural fear and mistrust of men, thunderstorms, and the color red. She is also a thief.

She uses her charms on Sidney Strutt (Martin Gabel) to get a clerical job without references. One night, she steals the contents of the company safe and completely changes her appearance and identity, including a new, fraudulent Social Security number. She puts the money away in a new suitcase with a newly purchased wardrobe. She also dumps her old belongings in another suitcase, stores it in a locker at the train station and throws the key into a sewer. She returns home to a suspicious mother (Louise Latham) who questions how Marnie is still alone yet has so much money. Marnie in turn asks why her mother does not love her.

Mark and Marnie on their honeymoon cruise

Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), a widower who owns a publishing company in Philadelphia, is a customer of Marnie's victim, Strutt. Rutland learns about the theft and remembers seeing the woman. Unaware of this, Marnie applies for a job at Rutland's company; he hires her as a typist and they see each other socially. At the horse races in Atlantic City, Marnie is recognized by someone in her past—presumably a man she swindled—but Rutland defends her. He takes her to the family home and introduces Marnie to his father (Alan Napier), a fellow horse enthusiast.

Marnie gains access to the company safe and steals the money. Rutland tracks her down at a horse ranch. Marnie gives up the location of the money, but continues to lie to Rutland about her background, making up various stories about her childhood. He reveals his knowledge that she's lying, knowing full well she'd stolen Strutt's money, too. Marnie is shocked, but Rutland insists his curiosity got the better of him. Marnie attempts to charm him into letting her go, but he refuses, claiming he'd be responsible for her future robbery victims. So rather than handing her over to the police, as she fears, he instead blackmails her into marrying him.

They marry, much to the chagrin of Rutland's former sister-in-law, Lil (Diane Baker), who's been in love with him ever since her sister's death. Lil learns that he's bought Marnie a $42,000 engagement ring and incurred other expenses. On a honeymoon cruise, where she's unable to abscond, Rutland expects to consummate the marriage but instead finds out about Marnie's hatred of men and frigidity. At first, Rutland respects her wishes, but one night he forcibly consummates the marriage. The next morning, Marnie attempts suicide by drowning in the ship's swimming pool, Rutland managing to rescue her in time.

Upon their return home, Rutland is determined to discover the reason behind Marnie's behaviour. Lil's suspicions of Marnie grow after eavesdropping a conversation about Mark having "paid off Strutt" on her behalf. Lil learns that Marnie lied about her mother being dead. She secretly invites Strutt to a party at Rutland's house, where he instantly recognizes Marnie. Rutland lies about how long he has known Marnie and covers for her. When he catches Marnie packing to flee, he learns of her other robbery victims and offers to pay off all so that no one goes to the police.

Although she is an accomplished horsewoman, during an organized hunt Marnie is again struck with fear due to the many red hunting jackets, as well as the cruelty involved, and bolts off on her horse, Forio. When she backs off from jumping over a stone wall, the consequent fall causes her horse severe injury. Not able to cope with her dear horse's suffering, she's forced to shoot Forio to put it out of its misery. This precipitates more of her compulsive thieving. Marnie goes to Rutland's personal safe, but can't bring herself to steal the money. Rutland, warned by Lil about what happened at the hunt, catches her in the act and dares Marnie to take the money, but she is unable to, almost as if a force field is keeping her back.

Against Marnie's wishes, they go to Baltimore, Maryland, to visit her mother, whom Rutland confronts about her past as a prostitute, despite her wholesome and "pure" façade. He forces her to tell Marnie the truth or else he shall do so. When Marnie's mother attacks Mark, he grab her wrists and it causes Marnie to remember what she'd been suppressing and precipitated her various psychoses. When Marnie was six years old, one of Bernice's clients (a sailor played by Bruce Dern) had tried drunkenly to calm the child when she was frightened by a thunderstorm, petting her and kissing her. It seemed to Bernice that the sailor was molesting Marnie, so she attacked him. During the struggle the sailor fell on Bernice and broke her leg. Seeing her mother struggling and in great pain, the child struck the sailor with a fireplace poker, killing him. The bloodshed led to her distrust of men and fear of the color red.

Once the origin of her fears is revealed to her, Marnie becomes calm. After saying goodbye to her mother, she tells Mark that she would prefer to stay married to him than go to jail.


Alfred Hitchcock's cameo can be seen five minutes into the film, entering from the left of a hotel corridor after Marnie passes by.


Development and writing[edit]

Alfred Hitchcock began developing the film adaptation of Winston Graham's novel Marnie in 1961. He commissioned Joseph Stefano, the screenwriter of Hitchcock's recently released Psycho, to work on the script. Stefano made extensive notes and wrote a 161-page treatment.[2] The director's first choice to play the title role, Grace Kelly, by then Princess Grace of Monaco, withdrew from the project when the citizens of Monaco objected to her appearing in a film, especially as a sexually disturbed thief. Also, when Kelly married Prince Rainier in 1956, she had not fulfilled her contract with MGM, which could have prevented her from working for another studio. As a consequence of Kelly's departure from the film, Hitchcock put it aside to work on The Birds (1963).[2]

After completing The Birds, Hitchcock returned to the Winston Graham adaptation. Evan Hunter, who had written the screenplay for The Birds, developed Marnie with Hitchcock, and wrote several drafts. Hunter was unhappy with the rape scene in the original novel as he felt the audience would lose sympathy for the male lead. The director, however, was enthusiastic about the scene, describing to Hunter how he intended to film it.

Hitch held up his hands the way directors do when they're framing a shot. Palms out, fingers together, thumbs extended and touching to form a perfect square. Moving his hands toward my face, like a camera coming in for a close shot, he said, "Evan, when he sticks it in her, I want that camera right on her face".[3]

Hunter wrote a draft containing the rape scene but also wrote an additional, substitute sequence, which he pleaded with Hitchcock to use instead. Hunter was dismissed from the project on 1 May 1963.[4] His replacement, Jay Presson Allen, later told him that "you just got bothered by the scene that was his reason for making the movie. You just wrote your ticket back to New York."[3][5] Just as Hunter had been unaware of Stefano's earlier work on Marnie, Presson Allen was not informed that she was the third writer to work on the adaptation.[6]


The role of Marnie became a sought-after role in Hollywood. In his book Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie, Tony Lee Moral revealed that a studio executive at Paramount Pictures suggested actress Lee Remick to Hitchcock for the title role. Eva Marie Saint, star of Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959), and Susan Hampshire unsuccessfully pursued the role. Hitchcock also considered two other actresses who were, like Hedren, under his personal contract, Vera Miles and Claire Griswold, wife of director/actor Sydney Pollack.

Instead, Hitchcock opted to use Tippi Hedren, a one-time model he had seen in a commercial for a diet drink in 1961, then cast successfully in The Birds. According to Hedren, he offered her the role of Marnie during filming of The Birds. Hedren told writer Moral that she was "amazed" that Hitchcock would offer her this "incredible role," calling it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." In 2005, more than 40 years after the film's release, Hedren declared in an interview that Marnie was her favorite of the two films she made with Hitchcock, because of the intriguing, complex, challenging character that she played.[7]

Male lead Sean Connery had been worried that being under contract to Eon Productions for both James Bond and non-Bond films would limit his career and turned down every non-Bond film Eon offered him. When asked what he wanted to do, Connery replied that he wanted to work with Alfred Hitchcock, which Eon arranged through their contacts.[8] Connery also shocked many people at the time by asking to see a script; something Connery did because he was worried about being typecast as a spy and he did not want to do a variation of North by Northwest or Notorious. When told by Hitchcock's agent that Cary Grant did not ask to see even one of Hitchcock's scripts Connery replied, "I'm not Cary Grant."[9] Hitchcock and Connery got on well during filming. Connery also said that he was happy with the film, "with certain reservations."[10]

Marnie became a milestone for several reasons. It was the last time a "Hitchcock blonde" would have a central role in one of his films. It was also the final occasion when he would work with several of his key team members: director of photography Robert Burks, who died in 1968; editor George Tomasini, who died soon after Marnie's release, and music composer Bernard Herrmann, who was fired during Hitchcock's next film, Torn Curtain (1966), when Hitchcock and Universal studio executives wanted a more contemporary "pop" tune for the film. Hitchcock had noticed a strong similarity between Herrmann's score for Joy in the Morning and Marnie and believed Herrmann was repeating himself.[11] Herrmann's music for Marnie included excerpts in his special album for Decca Records. Lyrics were written to Herrmann's theme that were to be sung by Nat King Cole.

Marnie continues to have its admirers. Actress Catherine Deneuve indicated that she would have loved to have played Marnie.[12] Actress Naomi Watts dressed up as Hedren's Marnie (whose outfits were by Edith Head) for the March 2008 issue of Vanity Fair magazine.[13]

Although they played mother and daughter, Latham (42) was only eight years older than Hedren (34).


In a making-of documentary for the DVD release, unit manager Hilton A. Green explains that shooting had been scheduled to begin on November 25, 1963, but had to be postponed because the nation was in mourning for John F. Kennedy, who had been assassinated three days before.


The film was a moderate box office success; it grossed $7 million in theatres[1] on a budget of $3 million. In North America, it earned estimated rentals of $3,250,000.[14] Marnie was the 22nd highest grossing film of 1964.

In a making-of documentary on the DVD, Robin Wood, author of Hitchcock's Films Revisited, discusses the special effects of the film as having their roots in German Expressionism:

[Hitchcock] worked in German studios at first, in the silent period. Very early on when he started making films, he saw Fritz Lang's German silent films; he was enormously influenced by that, and Marnie is basically an expressionist film in many ways. Things like scarlet suffusions over the screen, back-projection and backdrops, artificial-looking thunderstorms—these are expressionist devices and one has to accept them. If one doesn't accept them then one doesn't understand and can't possibly like Hitchcock.


  1. ^ a b Box Office Information for Marnie. The Numbers. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  2. ^ a b De Rosa 2001, p. 199
  3. ^ a b Hunter 1997, p. 35
  4. ^ Hunter 1997, p. 37
  5. ^ Gottlieb & Brookhouse 2002, pp. 204–5
  6. ^ De Rosa 2001, pp. 199–200
  7. ^ Worden, Leon. "SCV NEWSMAKER OF THE WEEK: Tippi Hedren". Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society. Retrieved 2005-03-05. 
  8. ^ Broccoli & Zec 1999
  9. ^ "Canny Scot". Time. January 10, 1964. 
  10. ^ "PLAYBOY INTERVIEW: SEAN CONNERY". Playboy magazine. November 1965. 
  11. ^ Smith 1991, p. 268
  12. ^ Andrew, Geoff (September 21, 2005). "Catherine Deneuve". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ Vanity Fair photograph
  14. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.


  • Broccoli, Albert R.; Zec, Donald (1999). When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli. Trans-Atlantic Publications. 
  • De Rosa, Steven (2001). Writing with Hitchcock: The Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571199909. 
  • Gottlieb, Sidney; Brookhouse, Christopher, eds. (2002). "An Interview with Evan Hunter". Framing Hitchcock: Selected Essays from the Hitchcock Annual. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0814330614. 
  • Hunter, Evan (1997). "Me and Hitch". Sight & Sound (British Film Institute) 7 (6): 25–37. ISSN 0037-4806. 
  • Smith, Steven C. (1991). A Heart at Fire's Centre: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann. University of California Press. 
  • Spoto, Donald (1983). The Dark Side of Genius. Ballantine Books. 

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