Saturday, December 29, 2012
The most controversial scene in Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie" involves the rape of the title character by her husband on their honeymoon. Blackmailed into marriage by Mark Rutland (Sean Connery), Marnie had no desire to have sex with him...or any other man for that fact, which she made painfully clear in a very uncomfortable scene that takes place in their honeymoon suite at sea. Initially, Rutland agrees to keep his paws off her, but after a few nights of blue balls and fortified by the cocktails he has been drinking, he changes his mind.
For Tippi's character, the audience feels horror for what she is about to experience. For Connery's, one can't help but think "loser" as this guy begins to start kissing and making out with a woman who has gone into a total catatonic state to deal with what she knows is going to happen.
The original writer for the screenplay, Evan Hunter, was kicked off the film because he told Hitch that it was a mistake to have Rutland force himself on his frigid wife. Instead, he wrote a second version of the script for Hitch which omitted the sexual act. Jay Presson Allen was hired to take over without any knowledge of the reason for Hunter's departure from the project. When interviewed about the brouhaha years later for the documentary "The Trouble With Marnie," she said:
The rape scene is interesting because, I must say, uh, he wanted a rape scene, and I wrote a rape scene. I don't remember any consternation whatsoever. Years and years later, when I meet Evan Hunter, and he says that his relationship with Hitch on that project broke up over that rape scene, I was kind of astonished at my lack of sensitivity. It just didn't make that much difference to me. It was a scene. When you talk about a rape scene, I think of somebody grabbing somebody... a stranger in a park and forcing them and blah, blah, blah, blah. This was just a trying marital situation. I don't think I defined it as rape, and Hitch never used the word "rape" with me. I guess he'd learned his lesson when he had the hoo-ha with Evan.
Here is a photo showing the filming of the scene that ended Hunter's stint with Hitch, along with the period publicity caption:
INVADED PRIVACY — One of 'Tippi' Hedren's most important scenes in Alfred Hitchcock's "Marnie," in which, co-starred with Sean Connery, she lays the title role, shows her alone in the sanctuary of her boudoir. But, as is plain to see, such a sequence requires the presence on the sound stage at Universal of innumerable technicians required to capture the scene on film. A Hitchcock discovery, Miss Hedren portrays a compulsive thief in the psychological suspense drama.
Tippi Hedren was concerned about the realism of playing a woman who was frigid with the virile Connery.
You know, the Marnie character... is totally against all men; she screams if one of them comes near her. I don't care how much of a man-hater you are, or how negatively you feel about men, you take one look at Sean Connery, and I mean, oh, come on, Hitch. "How am I going... How am I going to do this part?" He said, "It's called acting, my dear." Which was great. That was the answer.
The severe closeup of Tippi's blank face as Connery descends on her is truly a bizarre scene. It is glossed over so quickly in the following scenes that one (almost) forgets this truly heinous act that Connery commits. How does he make up for what he did? He buys her a horse. For some reason, it all works. This movie must be seen to be believed. Only Hitch could pull this off.
Follow my Daveland updates on Twitter and view my most recent photos on Flickr. See more Tippi Hedren photos on my Tippi web page.