Saturday, December 29, 2012

Marnie's Honeymoon

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.

See more Tippi Hedren photos on my Tippi web page.


orbitalpunk said...

Great article. I love the behind the scenes photos. Love this movie. Tippie is amazing. I can't believe she was black listed for so long. Have you ever seen Rope? Thats one of my favorite Hitchcock films. Seems very few people have seen it.

Daveland said...

I have seen "Rope," but have to admit I admire it most from a technical aspect and lack of cuts. From that standpoint, it's amazing.

orbitalpunk said...

Agreed. The first shot is like 13 minutes long! My all time fav is Vertigo and I have a soft spot for Rebecca. Ever do posts containing Olivia de Havilland? I saw her at LACMA a few years ago. Love her. I'd also love to see posts about Montgomery Clift. I looked up to him all thru acting schools. I feel he was overshadowed by James Dean. Love em both, just unfortunate.

Daveland said...

I believe the whole movie ("Rope") was done in approximately 20 minute takes. "Vertigo" I love; "Rebecca" is one I have a hard time getting into. I've never been crazy about Olivier, and Fontaine's character is so annoying. The only posts I've done on Olivia have been related to "Gone With The Wind." I don't really have much on Clift; I'm more of a Dean buff!

Douglas McEwan said...

"This movie must be seen to be believed. Only Hitch could pull this off."

There are two schools of thought as to whether Hitch did actually "pull this off". The movie is consistently rated as one of his lesser films and an artistic failure, though never ever as boring as Under Capricorn It's well above his worst films, but considerably below his best films, of which he had just had the historic, amazing run of Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Pscyho.

I got to see Hitchcock's own private print of Rope over 40 years ago. (At that time, it was the only surviving color print of it.) It is entirely shot in ten minute takes. There were no Technicolor cameras then that could shoot 20 minutes of uninterrupted film. It has since been topped (in that technical achievement) by Russian Ark, an amazing Russian film that is one single 90-minute take, involvnig the camera moving all over the Hermitage in Russia, and involving hundreds of performers. The entire finished film is "Take 4".

In 1994 I got to see the stage play of Rope in London. Wow! Freed from 1940s movie censorship, the play was eye-opening, with full-frontal male nudity by the two elads and their murder victim. (In the stage play, he is strangled during a homosexual sexual-three-way.)

Douglas McEwan said...

I inadvertantly omitted The Birds from the list of Hitch's amazing 1958-1963 unbroken string of masterpieces.

Daveland said...

"The Birds" has always left me cold; never really got into that one. I'd take "Marnie," flaws and all, over "The Birds."