Take 3: Marnie Review (A Month Without the Code — #1)

For the 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon, I wanted to review a movie that was released after 1954 or before 1934. This is because I’m also participating in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code Blogathon. While searching through Alfred’s filmography, I came across the 1964 film Marnie. The idea of the female protagonist being the center of the film’s mystery was something I hadn’t seen in the other Alfred Hitchcock projects I saw. As of August 2020, I have seen five of his movies, including Marnie. Two years ago, I said The Birds was the worst film I saw in 2018. However, Strangers on a Train appeared in my Honorable Mentions for my 2018 best movies list. Will Marnie appear on my best or worst of 2020 list? That mystery will get solved by reading this review!

Marnie poster created by Universal Pictures and Geoffrey Stanley Productions. Image found at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Marnie1.jpg

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: Tippi Hendren worked with Alfred Hitchcock when she starred in The Birds. In Marnie, she knew what to expect with the direction of her performance because of this pre-existing partnership. Tippi was given more acting material to work with in this film compared to the previous one from 1963. Her portrayal of the titular character was well-rounded, allowing her to express a variety of emotions. Marnie and Mark’s honeymoon serves as a good example of this. During a nice evening dinner, Tippi displays feelings of content. But when her character is having a heated argument, she provides a fierceness and strength to Marnie that projects off the screen. Before watching this movie, I had seen some of Sean Connery’s films. Even when the film surrounding him doesn’t hold up, he still gives his performance everything he has, talent wise. When I watched Marnie, Sean’s portrayal of Mark reminded me of Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind. What I mean by this is Sean had a commanding presence that captured the attention of the audience. He also carried himself with confidence throughout the film. Despite appearing in the movie for about two scenes, I thought Louise Latham’s performance was strong! Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll say her portrayal of Marnie’s mother, Bernice, was powerful in the movie’s climax. It was captivating to watch and had a good amount of emotionality.

The cinematography: One of the staples of an Alfred Hitchcock film is the interesting uses of cinematography that can be seen. Marnie features camera work that was creative and appealing to the eye. My favorite example is when Marnie is stealing the money from the office. While she’s doing this, a custodian is mopping the floor in the same vicinity. The shot shows the custodian on the left side of the screen and Marnie on the right side. As this part of the story played out, it built suspense and left me on the edge on my seat. Another good use of cinematography happened at the beginning of the film. When Marnie is first introduced, her face is not shown on screen. This creates a sense of mystery that surrounds her presence. It’s not until she changes her hair color from black to blonde that we finally see Marnie’s face.

The use of the color red: Throughout the movie, the color red appears in various forms. When a red object crosses paths with Marnie, she reacts with panic and fear. One example is when Marnie and Mark go to a horse race. As soon as she notices the red dots on a jockey’s shirt, she immediately wants to leave. This aspect served as a consistent component of this character. It also allows the audience to engage in the mystery surrounding this visual choice.

The 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2020/06/18/announcing-the-4th-alfred-hitchcock-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

The scene transitions: When a cinematic story moves from one scene to another, that transition can make or break the movie’s overall flow. In Marnie, some scenes ended abruptly, causing the transitions to feel clunky. A good example is when Marnie is leaving the office after she steals some money. As soon as she walks down the stairs, an employee shows up and greets a custodian. All of a sudden, the next scene begins. Had these transitions been smoother, the film wouldn’t feel like it was in stop-and-go traffic.

Light on thrills: Before watching this movie, I knew it was classified as a thriller. Because Marnie was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, I was expecting a mysterious and suspenseful tale that fits the brand he created. While it did have moments of suspense, the film as a whole was not thrilling. The majority of the story focused on the drama within the narrative. In fact, Marnie felt like it belonged in the drama genre. If Alfred wanted to try something new and go out of his comfort zone, that’s understandable. Unfortunately, this movie seemed out of character for him.

The run-time: Alfred Hitchcock once said “the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder”. However, it seems like Alfred forgot his quote when he directed this movie. Marnie is two hours and ten minutes. Because of this creative decision, some scenes were drawn out longer than necessary in order to satisfy the run-time. One example is a conversation between Mark and Lil after Marnie goes horse-riding. Personally, I thought this scene went on for too long. Had scenes like that one been trimmed down, it might have put the film’s run-time under two hours.

A Month Without the Code Blogathon banner created by Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Image found at https://pureentertainmentpreservationsociety.wordpress.com/2020/07/27/announcing-amonthwithoutthecode2020/.

My overall impression:

Alfred Hitchcock is a director who has created a distinct brand for himself. Known as the “Master of Suspense”, Alfred’s work consists of mystery and thrills. This decision is the reason why Marnie sticks out like a sore thumb. I want to make it clear that this is not Alfred’s worst film. The mystery itself was intriguing and the creative choices involving visuals were interesting. But the drama in this story overshadows the thrills, making the overall project feel like it should have been classified as a drama. As I said in my review, this felt out of character for Alfred. It would be like if an author like Debbie Macomber, an author known for writing heart-warming stories, published a gruesome murder mystery novel out of the blue. This would feel out of the character for the brand she created. Because this is my first review for A Month Without the Code, it’s time for me to point out how Marnie could be “breened”! I believe this story could be made into a Breen Code era film. However, these are the things that need to be changed in order for this to happen:

  • Throughout the film, there is language used that does not belong in a Breen Code era film. This ranges from swearing to using God’s name in vain. These words would either be removed or switched to more appropriate choices.
  • There is one scene that heavily implies Mark and Marnie had sex. Even though this happens after they get married, the scene itself would need to be rewritten or omitted.
  • One scene shows Marnie attempting suicide. Because this is a sensitive subject, this scene would to be removed or rewritten.
  • The robe Lil wears has a low-cut neckline. Changes to the style of the robe would need to take place before filming begins.
  • A large amount of blood is featured in one scene. The use of blood would need to be reduced.
  • A horse gets injured and killed in two inter-connected scenes. This would have to get omitted or the scene would have to be rewritten.

Overall score: 6.4 out of 10

What are your thoughts on Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography? Do you have a favorite movie from the “Master of Suspense”? Share your thoughts in the comment section!

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

The Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2018

Like I said in my post of The Top 10 Best Movies I saw in 2018, I’ve had a pretty good year in terms of movie-viewing. However, there were a few “stinkers” along the way. All movie bloggers will, inevitably, come across at least one film that either lets them down or was just less-than-stellar. This leads me to talk about this list of movies before 2018 is over. As the title suggests, the Top 10 Worst Movies I saw in 2018 will be discussed in this post. This list is very similar to the list of the best films I saw in 2018, where the list is based on my opinion and movies that I have personally seen. Also, like I said in my aforementioned list, this list was not created to be mean-spirited or negative toward anyone’s opinions/cinematic preferences. It is just a way for me to be honest about some of the films I saw in 2018. Now, let’s start off this list by looking at 2018’s Dishonorable Mentions:

 

One Winter Weekend, Frozen in Love, Love at Sea, Lilith, Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe, Mingle All the Way, and Island of Grace (this movie was so bad, I could only sit through about 5 minutes of it)

abstract 2018 text effect in broken style
2018 with broken pieces image created by Starline at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/abstract-2018-text-effect-in-broken-style_1472367.htm’>Designed by Starline</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background vector created by Starline – Freepik.com</a>. Designed by Starline. Image found at freepik.com.

Now, let the official list of 2018’s worst movies begin! Starting with number 10:

 

10. Marrying Mr. Darcy

I’m going to be honest; I thought Unleashing Mr. Darcy was decent, at best. Therefore, I was not asking Hallmark to give this movie a sequel. However, I was hoping Marrying Mr. Darcy would be better than the first movie, so this series could grow and progress as time went on. Unfortunately, that was not the case. As I’ve mentioned before, one of my least favorite Hallmark movie clichés is the “planning-a-wedding-in-an-unrealistic-time-period” cliché. In Marrying Mr. Darcy, this cliché serves as the film’s plot. The dog-show element of Unleashing Mr. Darcy’s narrative was something that I really liked about the first movie, as dog-shows had not been featured in a Hallmark movie until that film. But, in Marrying Mr. Darcy, dog-shows are pretty much non-existent, taking away an important part of the first movie’s identity. If I had liked or loved Unleashing Mr. Darcy anywhere near as much as other people did, maybe I would find Marrying Mr. Darcy to be more disappointing that it was. But, because I wasn’t really a fan of the first film, its sequel received a low placement on this list.

 

9. Christmas on Holly Lane

In 2018, I watched about 19 newly released Christmas films. Out of all of those, Christmas on Holly Lane was the worst one. As I said in my review, Christmas is given such little emphasis in the story. This movie also has an assortment of other issues that I talked about in my review, from too much focus on the “doom and gloom” of the protagonist’s realities to having too many plots. What’s really disappointing about this specific placement is this is the second year in a row where my least favorite Christmas movie of the year has been an UP Network movie (I also didn’t like The Christmas Calendar). This channel has what it takes to create films that are really good in quality. So, hopefully, in 2019, UP Network can put together a movie that doesn’t end up on my Worst Movies of the Year list.

 

8. Waffle Street

Yet, another movie I’ve reviewed that joins the list. What’s so disappointing about Waffle Street, even more disappointing than movies 10 and 9, is the movie is based on a true story. Not only that, the story itself sounds really fascinating. Too bad the movie was no where near as interesting. The biggest problem with Waffle Street is the poor execution that was placed on the film. This led the movie to have creative issues, such as very little character development and a toilet scene that went too far. While the cast in Waffle Street did a pretty good job with the acting material they were given, there was nothing anyone could do to save this film. Maybe if this story was placed into the hands of a network like Hallmark, the movie could have done this true story justice.

 

7. The Graduate

I am fully aware that this choice is going to be controversial, especially since The Graduate is well-liked by a lot of people and is ranked in the Top 10 of AFI’s Top 100 Movies of All Time list. But, as I reflect on this film, I can’t help but wonder why this movie was made and what the creative team behind this movie was trying to say to its respective audience. To me, the majority of The Graduate feels like it was a product of its time. Also, there are several elements within this movie that feel like they were incorporated just for the sake of shock value. When I think about The Graduate, as well as the other movies I’ve seen in 2018, I’ve come to realize that I’m not a fan of the story-telling trope where situations or things are placed in a film just for the sake of shock value/ getting a reaction out of the audience. I will admit that Simon and Garfunkel have some really good songs, but I just think that their music felt out of place in this movie.

 

6. Collateral 

This movie has the distinction of getting worse as the story goes on. What starts out as an intriguing, action-packed mystery story slowly turns into a philosophical discussion on why people do the things they do. The character of Vincent is more annoying than menacing, with things happening way too conveniently in his favor. Similar to what I said about Waffle Street, I think the cast did a good job with the acting material they were given. But, also like I said about Waffle Street, there was nothing anyone could do to save this film. I won’t spoil this movie for you (even though I would not recommend this film), but all I will say is the ending was way too ridiculous for my liking.

Waffle Street poster
Waffle Street poster created by MarVista Entertainment. Image found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Waffle_Street_Official_Movie_Poster.jpg

5. Saturday Night Fever

Yes, another controversial choice for this list, especially because of how well-liked this movie is and how iconic this film’s opening scene is. When you take away the acting (which was good), the dancing sequences (which were really good), and the soundtrack (which is great), you are left with a movie that feels very long, is filled with unlikable characters, and has way too much swearing for my liking. I saw this movie on television and there was so much swearing in this film, I honestly thought the audio on my TV was broken. Another thing I’d like to add is the film’s climax is so predictable, that I, personally, didn’t find it to be emotionally affective. In 2018, I found out Saturday Night Fever was given a sequel a few years after its 1977 release. However, I have no intention of watching this sequel because a) I’ve heard a lot of negative things about the film and b) I didn’t like Saturday Night Fever anywhere near enough to want to give the sequel a chance.

 

4. Logan Lucky

Out of all the movies on this list, Logan Lucky is the only one that I just couldn’t finish watching. Maybe if I had finished watching it, the movie probably would have ended up in the Top 3. The biggest fault of Logan Lucky is how boring of a movie it is. Despite the fact that this a heist film, there is no excitement to be found. I will admit that this movie had the pieces to, potentially, be a good film. Unfortunately, because of a poorly written script, this entire concept was really poorly executed. Even as I start to think about the Top 3 Worst films I saw in 2018, I’m still trying to figure out how Logan Lucky received a score of 92 to 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

3. Menu for Murder

This is a Lifetime movie from 1990 that I’m not sure how many people are aware of. What enticed me to watch this film was how similar the synopsis sounded to the mystery films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Also, Menu for Murder had an interesting concept (a murder that takes places amongst a PTA group) set against an interesting backdrop (Encino, California). With all of those pieces put together, this movie sounded like something I would like; an engaging mystery story that has a good amount of creativity. But, all of this potential was wasted on a poorly written script. Not only was the mystery itself very lackluster, but all of the characters in the PTA group were defined by stereotypical personalities. The film’s climax was not suspenseful at all, but instead silly, over-the-top, and ridiculously bad to the point of not taking the climax seriously. To me, this was the most disappointing movie I saw in 2018.

 

2. Yes, I Do

If you have followed my blog for a significant period of time, you would have seen this movie coming a mile a minute. While Yes, I Do is the worst Hallmark movie I saw in 2018, it is now the second worst Hallmark movie I’ve ever seen (bumping Firelight off of my Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time list). As I said in my review, this movie was so bad, I had to fast forward through certain parts of the movie just to get through it. The film’s narrative is not good, even by made-for-TV movie standards. There were other issues I had with this movie as well, from a very unlikable protagonist to really poor screen-writing. Like I also mentioned in my review, this is the second year in a row where Hallmark’s “June Weddings” line-up ended with a movie that I didn’t like. Hopefully, in 2019, the last “June Weddings” movie can help the line-up end on a positive note.

 

1. The Birds 

This has got to be the most controversial choice on this list. When I think about the movies I saw in 2018, The Birds is the only one to truly make me feel like I wasted my time watching it. Prior to seeing this film, I had watched Rear Window, Psycho, and Strangers on a Train. Because of this, I was familiar with the directing style of Alfred Hitchcock and the cinematic tone of his films. However, The Birds ended up being a 2-hour, slow, and boring build-up to absolutely nothing. No plot twist, no shocking ending, no explanation for why the birds were causing so much chaos in the first place. Nothing. For me, it felt like all of the characters were placed within this narrative just because they were obligated to be there. Their dialogue and subplots did not interest me at all. The only parts of the film that I liked were anytime at least one bird showed up, as the love birds leaning in the direction of the car’s turns was one of the best scenes in this film (because it was that hilarious). While I am all for watching Hitchcock’s films with an open mind, I feel bummed out that, in 2018, I found a Hitchcock film that I didn’t like.

Yes I Do poster
Yes, I Do poster created by Crown Media Family Networks and Hallmark Channel. Image found at https://www.hallmarkchannelpress.com/Shows/PRShowDetail?SiteID=142&FeedBoxID=845&NodeID=302&ShowType=&ShowTitle=Yes%2c+I+Do

What did you think of my list? What is the worst film you saw in 2018? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!

 

Have fun in 2019!

Sally Silverscreen