Marnie (1964)

Marnie (1964), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Has the beautiful and slightly psychotic embezzler finally met her match in a studly businessman who forces her to marry him? Does he know what does and does not come with that arrangement?

In some ways this is a return to Hitchcock's women's thrillers of the 1940s, updated to allow the heroine to be a thief like Cary Grant and somewhat deranged like Gregory Peck.

Like all romances it is about the woman finding her way and getting her man (whether she originally wanted him or not). The genre requires an estimable heroine -- no pushover or whiner -- and a masterful hero worthy of her.

Sean Connery delivers on the second aspect and makes the film better than it otherwise might have been. Calm, masculine, forceful and yet large-hearted. Like Marnie he can't really control himself: his obsession with her is his one weakness. For women this sort of fascination is appealing in an attractive man, but much less so in a creepy stalker. But Connery can force sex on the honeymoon, driving her to a suicide attempt, and be forgiven.

As in The Birds (1963), Tippi Hedron is less satisfactory as a beginning actress, but this also helps project her cool, dissociated persona.

Problems: it doesn't have enough tension to be a good thriller, and not enough puzzle to be a mystery. The second half is all about uncovering Marnie's childhood trauma. Psychological detection is not always riveting.

There is one clever bit of camera work: a natural split-screen where a cleaning woman mops the floor while Marnie cleans out the safe. Otherwise it is visually uninteresting; Hitchcock's steep angles had become a bit too characteristic by then.

Edith Head costumes. Bernard Herrmann's score is lushly romantic with some psycho segments.

Available on Blu-ray. Good color and a good-looking image, although with huge grain.