Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #19: Real Identities (Opening Scene of Marnie)

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Today's Daily Dose is the opening scene from Marnie

 

Go over to the Canvas course to watch the clip, and then come back here to discuss.

 

Here are three starter questions:

 

  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.
     
  2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?
     
  3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

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Marnie is a woman who uses her sexuality, the introductory shot is of her hips and bottom and how much she swings them (“needs a porch” as the old sexist observation used to go). Hitchcock is different here in that he is the voyeur, watching Marnie as she walks away, as he came out of his hotel room, and giving us a look, before turning away.

 

Marnies purse is bulging, and it is with money as we see shortly, and she is very materialistic with all the new boxes being carried to her room show. She dresses to go with the lower class look she has. Then we see her with two suit cases being filled, one quickly, the other a little more carefully, the further one, gray, is for old things, the closest is for new sweaters, designer clothes from “Albert's”. Walking into the train station the initial shot is now on her legs, moving up to show her in designer clothes. She is now a society lady.

 

Having changed her clothes, identity from Marion Hillard to Margaret Edgar, her hair from black to blonde. She is a new woman. All of this and Hitchcock's cameo verify this will be a sex mystery, as advertised. There are touches from his other movies, the purse, money and washing out hair dye from Psycho, the key from Notorious and Dial M For Murder and the grate from Strangers on a Train. The music is completely different also, it is quieter, relaxing not really a suspenseful sound yet.

 

This will be an interesting movie.

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Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.
         Marnie is a mystery, she transfers new clothes from store boxes to a suitcase and discards her old clothing to a separate  suitcase, one she will eventually abandon in a train station locker, while disposing of the key in a sewer grate. She has multiple Social Security cards in different names hidden behind a compact's mirror and a bag full of cash. She also sheds a disguise, removing hair dye and changing hair style. She appears to be a criminal on the run, or maybe a spy, changing identities to stay one step ahead of her pursuers? A character of mystery. 

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?
         Herrmann's score is sweeping and has a romantic lilt to it, to add to the air of mystery; a romantic melody. Does this lend itself to the possibilities  of her being a spy? Or just a woman on the run? In any event we have a feeling of caring for this woman, we need to know where she comes from and where she is going. Herrmann's score helps us to set our emotional concerns accordingly.

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

      Hitchcock appears to be sort of stumbling into the scene, separating us (the camera) from the subject (Marnie) as we watch her walk away. Then when Hitch notices us, he seems to act a little embarrassed or confused, he has broken our concentration as Marnie disappears around the corner.  Is this Hitch's way of saying that not everything is as it would seem? That we, like he, have stumbled into something and do we now keep going? And what will we find if we keep going? More mystery ....

 

...On a personal note: this is one of my favorite Hitchcock films; I listed it as one of my top 5 in another thread. It may not be as tightly formed a film as Hitch has done previously, but the elements of Marnie's psychosies and criminal acts make it a compelling movie to watch again and again. I also like the cast, Tippy, Sean Connery, Diane Baker, Louise Lathem, (a young) Bruce Dern and even Alan Napier (Alfred the butler to Bruce Wayne in the 60's TV show Batman), all make it a wonderful film to watch. Plus I like mysteries and this one is expertly done by the master, who gives us the clues and helps us to unravel the mystery in the end.

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1. Marnie is ladylike in her introduction into the film. She is wearing a well cut tweed suit. From behind her walk is feminine and dainty, her hair a glossy brunette. Once she is in the room (after encountering Hitchcock coming out of another room), the audience understands that she has multiple identities. Marnie is switching suitcases, placing clothes and items she has used in one case, and packing new, unused things in a different case. She changes her identity by replacing one SS card with another from several fraudulent cards she has hidden behind a purse mirror. She empties out cash from a purse into the suitcase with her new things, and then washes the dark brown dye from her hair. Voila! Marnie is really a Hitchcock blonde! Once she puts on her celadon green suit (this is a Hitchcock favorite color for Hedren, she wears a similar color suit when she drives up the Pacific Highway to Bodega Bay in "The Birds"), Marnie has shed her fake look for her real self. Hitchcock also has her hair styled in a chignon as in "The Birds." After this transformation she goes about the final flush of her fraudulent identity and disposes of her used garments and personal items by locking them away in a train station locker. She gingerly approaches a grate with the locker key in hand ("Notorious"), and drops it down the grate ("Strangers on a Train"). Once this task is done she is ready for whatever the next scene has in store for us. The audience understands that despite Marnie's ladylike, refined appearance, she is some sort of shady lady, not to be trusted.

 

2. The Marnie theme is sentimental and wistful such that despite what the audience sees on screen about Marnie's lack of good character, we know there is a backstory to help us understand her situation and maybe even excuse her. "Marnie" explores Hitchcock's favorite themes of guilt, memory and sexuality.

 

3. Hitchcock looks like a house detective who is observing his perpetrator before exposing her to the audience.

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1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

Marnie is in the process of changing from one identity to another. She is thorough in her approach, replacing clothing, changing the color of her hair, discarding and replacing previously worn clothing with new. She may have done something illegal indicated by the large amount of money she has dumped from her hand bag into a suitcase. Also she seems a bit arrogant as she appears to approve of her transformation from dark hair to blonde, as if this touch will completely fool anyone looking for the dark haired version of herself. She feels she has securely interned  her previous appearance in a station locker, and bought herself time to disappear by throwing the key away in a place where it may never be found.

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

Hitchcock is using Herrmann’s score to maintain interest  in what otherwise be an obvious trope of someone in the process of changing their identity. While Marnie is exchanging clothing and personal items the music seems sad, as if at a funeral reception; then slowly increases its tempo. It swells to a dramatic point only when Marnie washes out her dark hair coloring, heralding her approval of the return to her natural look as a blonde and satisfaction that no one  would recognize her as Marion Holland.

 

3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

The variations I noticed was Hitchcock for a split second breaks the fourth wall by staring at the camera, that the cameo seems much shorter than I expected and that it ends abruptly. It may be that Hitchcock, by first staring at Marney walking down the hall, focuses attention on her, then has the cameo be as brief an interruption of the story as possible. One of my classmates stated Hitchcock looked like a house detective. Along those lines I imagined he was someone leaving the hotel room after having an illicit rendezvous, and upon being discovered in the hallway staring at another woman, guiltily turns away. 

 

Personally Marnie is one of my least favorite Hitchcock films. I’ve never been able to watch it all the way through. I may try watching it without the sound on (unfortunately I’ll miss hearing Herrmann’s beautiful score). Watching Eyes Wide Shut that way allowed me to appreciate what a beautiful film that is. Hopefully that will allow me to enjoy Hitchcock’s story telling.

 

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  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. -- She is trouble, that's what she is! She likes stylish clothing, knows how to dye her hair, has a ready supply of false SSNs which means she seeks jobs with her identities.  She also shops in expensive stores, stays in expensive hotels based on her ease with the world around her. However, she isn't that good at forensic science, which in the 60s wasn't that developed yet, but still, she would have had a lot of DNA on that suitcase she dumped in the locker; a donation center would have been a better 'loss' of her items, but then... she probably didn't know anything about that side of the city.  Trouble, trouble, trouble...

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? -- The score adds drama and a bit of suspense in the packing of items and the character's actions. No dialogue is needed as the actions and score fill in the questions nicely.

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? -- He glanced at the camera.  Usually he's looking to the side or away... but this time, he caught my eye. I don't know what it means, but he was a crafty director and I'm certain he's up to no good too.  Maybe he's gone a left a bag of old films at some railway station... has anyone checked the grates for old keys?

 

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1.  Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

The thing that struck me the most was that the name we think is hers is on the first social security card.  And it’s Marion: the previous blonde woman who stole money in Psycho.  Then, of course, we see that she has many identities, and she just thumbs through, choosing the one that suits her at this time.

 

2.  How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

Herrmann always sounds like Herrmann to me – the lush, Wagnerian quality of the harmony, etc. (Psycho is a different story, of course).  But the Herrmann of Vertigo is very obvious in this opening scene. I was particularly struck by the music when Marnie is washing out the hair dye.  The music gets sort of “watery” with harp touches.  It then begins to build in intensity (harmony and rhythm, as well as dynamics), and the climax of the music hits just as the reveal of Marnie as a blonde occurs – at the moment she raises her head and we see her face and her blonde hair.  As the Prof. pointed out in the video, there are many call-backs in this film (the hair dye down the drain, the key down the grate, the money in the purse, etc.).  But to me, this reveal moment combined with the music is also a huge call-back to Vertigo.  In the final transformation scene when Madeleine/Judy emerges from the bathroom finally completely re-made as Madeleine, including the upswept hair, the music reaches a huge climax there.  It begins with a shimmeringness of expectation and then crashes open as Scottie sees “Madeleine” again.  The reveal of the blonde Marnie is similar.  However, there are differences, of course.  In Vertigo, we’ve been teased with this musical climax several times, and we and Scottie “earn” this moment after a long wait.  And for Scottie, the reveal is about seeing a woman again – the woman he desires.  And her re-appearance is like an apotheosis.  But in Marnie, we haven’t earned this musical climax (and, to be fair, the music isn’t as big a moment here as in Vertigo).  Also, in Marnie, the reveal isn’t for someone we’ve seen before.  Now it’s for someone we’re just meeting.  But in both cases, similar musical gestures appear just as the audience sees an archetypal Hitchcock blonde.

 

3.  Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?

 

First, it’s very early in the film (which I think he started doing to keep the audience from being distracted in the films by looking for him).  But the main thing is that he glances directly at the camera.  It almost feels like an outtake – like Hitchcock the director enters the scene to direct, give notes, etc.  And his look at the camera seems to identify him as the director, not a random guy in a hotel.  And he just looks like Hitchcock so openly – he’s not at all disguised, so we totally see Hitchcock the director.  Also, it’s like he’s looking at us watching the film, and he implicates us in the voyeurism.  It’s another call-back, in that way, to Rear Window.  He goes meta here, making the act of directing and watching obvious rather than masking it.  It’s a bit creepy as well – like we’ve been caught spying on someone.  He doesn’t look sheepish at all, but more just a bit defiant, like he’s saying to us with that glance, “yes, I see you seeing this.”

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Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

The close up of the bag indicates it is something important, and since we are in a Hitchcock film that means it is also something of an illicit nature.  We see only her back, which tells us this is a person of mystery. There is something unknown about her, something which will be explored in the film.

 

We see her packing a suitcase with newly purchased clothes and accessories – gloves still in their plastic packages – and seemingly discarding older clothes in a rumpled pile to the side. This tells us she is ‘discarding’ an old identity and creating a new one, for a new place (hence the suitcase). We can assume that she has some trouble that she is escaping.

 

We next see a shot of the purse and it is indeed filled with illicit money. Wads of cash still in their bundle strips suggest she has stolen money. The bands around the money tell us it is from some institution – a bank, or business safe – as opposed to a liquor store robbery or some such thing.

 

She then goes into her wallet and replaces her social security card, thereby confirming that she is switching her identity. It is interesting that she hides her extra social security cards in a compact behind a mirror, since the mirror represents your visual identity and appearance. She is changing her outward identity but will still remain who she is internally.

 

The shot of the hair dye in the sink, as pointed out in the lecture video, is reminiscent of the blood going down the drain in Psycho, and it is black, which I understand is close to the color used in the earlier film –it was reported to be chocolate syrup. But of course she is removing her past identity by removing the hair dye.

 

What comes next is totally unexpected. We have been following this mysterious person, who we know has been involved in illicit behavior such as deception and theft, and we finally get a reveal of her face – of Tippi Hedren’s face, accompanied by a surge of music almost like a glamour shot. It is a shot we might expect to see from a beautiful female romantic lead having just come out of a pool in a Romance film. Suddenly a blonde, beautiful, and in a gesture of freedom that tells us she got away with whatever she did, it almost forces us to identify with this ‘criminal’ right from the start.

 

Now in new clothes and with suitcases, we see her at a train station (and we hear the sounds associated with train stations such as arrivals and departures being announced). She puts a suitcase in a locker – for what reason? – and we get our first full reveal of the new woman: with her hair done and a serious look of determination on her face. As she drops the key down the grating we know now she was disposing of her old identity – presumably those old clothes in the suitcase – and has permanently changer her identity. She is indeed a criminal of some sort.

 

This is a classic Hitchcock introduction, reminiscent of the opening of Shadow of a Doubt or Strangers On A Train where we are given an introduction on characters in a purely visual manner without the use of dialogue.

 

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

The music that opens the clip is a bit somber, a bit melancholy, and low key. We get the impression that there is a bit of sadness about the situation –perhaps not from the Character’s perception – but how we will witness it as the audience. A short, turning melodic phrase is repeated over and over, maybe subtly suggesting this is neither the first nor the last time this ‘event’ has or will take place with this character. In other words maybe subliminally it suggests a repeated character trait or behavior.

 

The music does a subtle thing as she reaches for the purse. The short, repeated melodic motif, which had up until this moment had been in 4/4 time, changes to 3 /4 time. This ‘removing’ of one beat per measure is a very subtle increase of urgency – the music is ever so subtly and again almost subliminally increasing in urgency, without the obvious loud crescendo or dramatic acceleration. It is a remarkable use of music to depict such ideas in a seemingly low key scene.

 

We get a new repeated musical motif, a little more urgent because it is only two notes, over shots of her sorting through multiple social security cards. This two note theme is just the tail end of the previous musical motif, and as such again is a very subtle way to rack up the tension – by further compressing that musical idea. Because it is shorter the phrase repeats more quickly. Clearly it parallels the idea that this is a repeated behavior on the part of the character, who has multiple identities and has committed multiple illicit actions. What a fantastic way for the music to show this without obvious fanfare.

 

We then get a slow buildup as she washes dye out of her hair to a climactic musical flourish as she whips her hair back to reveal her new self to us, the audience. I referred to it above as a ‘glamour’shot, and the music establishes that. The lecture video mentioned Hitchcock’s self-referential shots to previous films like psycho, and clearly this is a mini version of the transformation scene in Vertigo, not only visually but more obviously musically. (Even down to the use of the exact same chord and suspension resolution used in the Vertigo score at its climactic moment!)

 

The music then abruptly stops as she puts the suitcase into the locker. We are snapped out of this ‘glamour’ moment into reality – the sound of the announcer at the train station and all the ambient noise. We are not in a romantic, luscious moment but rather in reality, and reminded that this is someone on the run because of her criminal behavior.  It is a supreme example how even SILENCE in a musical score can communicate to the audience important ideas or themes.

 

This short clip shows the subtle brilliance AND the obvious brilliance (the face reveal) of a masterful film composer at the height of his powers.

 

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?

 

The Hitchcock cameo, which had become a ‘thing’ by now, is comical in a new way. Many of his cameos are funny – walking the dogs in the birds, missing the bus, the newspaper ad in Lifeboat – but here he actually looks at the audience as if to acknowledge his authorship in the film and also his cameo. It’s also almost like he came out of the door accidentally and thought ‘Oh heck! We’re filming!’

 

 

An additional note: Mention was made in the lecture video comparing Sean Connery's behavior as compared to Max in 'Rebecca'.

 

Many people complain about the way Max treats 'I' (the 2nd Mrs. de Winter) in the film - that he treats her as a child, that he is oblivious to her fear of Mrs, Danvers, and his mystifying shortness of temper at certain times.

 

What many fail to either realize or remember is that Max is a victim - a wounded character. It is only that we don't KNOW this until the end of the film. If you watch the film a second time and REMEMBER from the first viewing what happened to Max, his mystifying behavior becomes, if not right, at least excusable, and right for the CHARACTER. This was not a poor acting choice on Olivier's part by any means. He was acting the part knowing the history of the Max-Rebecca relationship.

 

Max was smitten with Rebecca, but she turned out to be a cruel and spiteful person. She cheated on him multiple times, and flaunted it in his face. She was having another man's baby (seemingly) and was forcing him to raise it and publicly acknowledge it as his own. She domineered and humiliated him to such a point that he was driven to murder her (or so he believed).

 

And all the while she did this everyone around her ADORED her. Can you imagine the psychological effect of being treated in such a cruel and spiteful way and having everyone else love and adore her?

 

THIS is the trauma - the damage - that afflicts Max at the start of the film - the cruelty and spitefulness of his domineering yet adored-by-others wife, and his knowledge of her murder at his hands (seemingly). I think such trauma more than explains - not necessarily justifies - but explains and even excuses Maxes behavior towards 'I'.

 

  1. Max was domineered by Rebecca, so he became attracted to the opposite, a very shy young woman.
  2. Rebecca was cruel and spiteful, controlling and domineering. Max therefore treated ‘I’ like a child, for he feared to have her ‘grow up’ to become another ‘Rebecca’. This is very important, for we see how just the lingering presence of Rebecca’s reputation dominated and smothered ‘I’ in the film, how much more intense and difficult must that have been to Max when she was alive and his wife? Max IS a wounded character.
  3. Moments when Max loses temper with ‘I’ almost always concern some rememberance of Rebecca, whom he hated and despised and murdered (seemingly). For example, The dress at the party was a reminder that to the world (but NOT to him) Rebecca was stunning and adored. Remember too his loss of temper is not REALLY towards her, but is a reflex reaction and anger at HIMSELF for his MEMORIES of the troubled relationship with Rebecca. A later scene shows he had already completely forgotten about the incident, showing it was in HIS mind ABOUT him and not her.
  4. Several times Max expresses disappointment towards ‘I’ about the relationship perhaps being a mistake. This is NOT that he doesn’t love ‘I’ but rather he feels, as a murderer with his troubled past that he can NEVER be free of Rebecca or the past.

 

These few examples show that Max’s difficulty was NOT with ‘I’ but with HIMSELF. ‘I’ was just  unfortunate to receive it as ‘collateral damage’ from Max’s disintergrating emotional state.

 

Remember too that when we DO find out, even ‘I’ realizes Max is an injured, wounded soul and she suddenly mothers and supports him (who is the child now?). She becomes strong for him at that moment because she now realizes that Max had been through the terrible trauma of cruel and spiteful treatment by Rebecca, who was about to force him to raise her lover’s child and who’s torment drove Max to murder (seemingly), and who was adored through it all by everyone around him.

 

If people cant see such trauma as affecting a person, then I am baffled. And Max’s behavior towards ‘I’ makes sense to me quite clearly.

As for his insensitivity to her fear of Mrs. Danvers, that is due to the fact that he grew up with servants obeying his every wish and command. He grew up thinking of these people as not scary but rather his obedient servant. He even SAYS this to ‘I’ at one point: “why should you be frightened of Mrs. Danvers?” It would be like wondering why a person would be frightened of an ant. To him Mrs Danvers is harmless as an ant. He can’t conceive how anyone could be frightened by a servant. It’s not an insensitivity, but rather that he doesn’t comprehend how that could be possible.

 

Lastly this film is being told from the perspective of ‘I’. We see Max through HER eyes. We see Mrs. Danvers through HER eyes. Max’s treatment of her seems disturbing to us the audience because it is disturbing to ‘I’ at those moments because ‘I’ doesn’t know the truth – that Max hated Rebecca. The behavior of Max which at times confounds us is really confounding the narrator, ‘I’. When she finally DOES learn the truth, see how the relationship IMMEDIATELY changes with her being strong because she finally UNDERSTANDS Max – who now both Rebecca and the audience see in a different light.

 

Remember that in ‘The Snake Pit’ Virginia (Olivia DeHavilland) is traumatized by events in her past life. Yet no one complains of her treatment of her husband, whom she just abandons and doesn’t even recognize, despite his clear love and devotion to her. Her treatment of her husband Robert is EXCUSED because we are told she has mental issues from trauma in her past.

 

It’s a shame that those critical of Max can’t excuse or at least understant his behaviior from the trauma in HIS past, which is no less severe than Virginias. Olivier is not giving a poor performance in Rebecca. He is playing a damaged character and many choose not to acknowledge that fact.

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1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

Marnie is an imposter or holds a double life. She could be a thief and is actually blond. The objects also suggest she's travelling, possibly escaping...

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

It sounded like it was make belief with the raising and lowering of harp strings and the music seemed to come in and out like breathing. I get the impression he wanted to convey artifice and imagination or the use of one's imagination.

 

3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?

 

Hitch's cameo no longer subtle, and he is actually more engaging like his tv personality. Never saw Marnie yet so look forward to it!

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Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

The close up of the bag indicates it is something important, and since we are in a Hitchcock film that means it is also something of an illicit nature.  We see only her back, which tells us this is a person of mystery. There is something unknown about her, something which will be explored in the film.

 

We see her packing a suitcase with newly purchased clothes and accessories – gloves still in their plastic packages – and seemingly discarding older clothes in a rumpled pile to the side. This tells us she is ‘discarding’ an old identity and creating a new one, for a new place (hence the suitcase). We can assume that she has some trouble that she is escaping.

 

We next see a shot of the purse and it is indeed filled with illicit money. Wads of cash still in their bundle strips suggest she has stolen money. The bands around the money tell us it is from some institution – a bank, or business safe – as opposed to a liquor store robbery or some such thing.

 

She then goes into her wallet and replaces her social security card, thereby confirming that she is switching her identity. It is interesting that she hides her extra social security cards in a compact behind a mirror, since the mirror represents your visual identity and appearance. She is changing her outward identity but will still remain who she is internally.

 

The shot of the hair dye in the sink, as pointed out in the lecture video, is reminiscent of the blood going down the drain in Psycho, and it is black, which I understand is close to the color used in the earlier film –it was reported to be chocolate syrup. But of course she is removing her past identity by removing the hair dye.

 

What comes next is totally unexpected. We have been following this mysterious person, who we know has been involved in illicit behavior such as deception and theft, and we finally get a reveal of her face – of Tippi Hedren’s face, accompanied by a surge of music almost like a glamour shot. It is a shot we might expect to see from a beautiful female romantic lead having just come out of a pool in a Romance film. Suddenly a blonde, beautiful, and in a gesture of freedom that tells us she got away with whatever she did, it almost forces us to identify with this ‘criminal’ right from the start.

 

Now in new clothes and with suitcases, we see her at a train station (and we hear the sounds associated with train stations such as arrivals and departures being announced). She puts a suitcase in a locker – for what reason? – and we get our first full reveal of the new woman: with her hair done and a serious look of determination on her face. As she drops the key down the grating we know now she was disposing of her old identity – presumably those old clothes in the suitcase – and has permanently changer her identity. She is indeed a criminal of some sort.

 

This is a classic Hitchcock introduction, reminiscent of the opening of Shadow of a Doubt or Strangers On A Train where we are given an introduction on characters in a purely visual manner without the use of dialogue.

 

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

The music that opens the clip is a bit somber, a bit melancholy, and low key. We get the impression that there is a bit of sadness about the situation –perhaps not from the Character’s perception – but how we will witness it as the audience. A short, turning melodic phrase is repeated over and over, maybe subtly suggesting this is neither the first nor the last time this ‘event’ has or will take place with this character. In other words maybe subliminally it suggests a repeated character trait or behavior.

 

The music does a subtle thing as she reaches for the purse. The short, repeated melodic motif, which had up until this moment had been in 4/4 time, changes to 3 /4 time. This ‘removing’ of one beat per measure is a very subtle increase of urgency – the music is ever so subtly and again almost subliminally increasing in urgency, without the obvious loud crescendo or dramatic acceleration. It is a remarkable use of music to depict such ideas in a seemingly low key scene.

 

We get a new repeated musical motif, a little more urgent because it is only two notes, over shots of her sorting through multiple social security cards. This two note theme is just the tail end of the previous musical motif, and as such again is a very subtle way to rack up the tension – by further compressing that musical idea. Because it is shorter the phrase repeats more quickly. Clearly it parallels the idea that this is a repeated behavior on the part of the character, who has multiple identities and has committed multiple illicit actions. What a fantastic way for the music to show this without obvious fanfare.

 

We then get a slow buildup as she washes dye out of her hair to a climactic musical flourish as she whips her hair back to reveal her new self to us, the audience. I referred to it above as a ‘glamour’shot, and the music establishes that. The lecture video mentioned Hitchcock’s self-referential shots to previous films like psycho, and clearly this is a mini version of the transformation scene in Vertigo, not only visually but more obviously musically. (Even down to the use of the exact same chord and suspension resolution used in the Vertigo score at its climactic moment!)

 

The music then abruptly stops as she puts the suitcase into the locker. We are snapped out of this ‘glamour’ moment into reality – the sound of the announcer at the train station and all the ambient noise. We are not in a romantic, luscious moment but rather in reality, and reminded that this is someone on the run because of her criminal behavior.  It is a supreme example how even SILENCE in a musical score can communicate to the audience important ideas or themes.

 

This short clip shows the subtle brilliance AND the obvious brilliance (the face reveal) of a masterful film composer at the height of his powers.

 

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?

 

The Hitchcock cameo, which had become a ‘thing’ by now, is comical in a new way. Many of his cameos are funny – walking the dogs in the birds, missing the bus, the newspaper ad in Lifeboat – but here he actually looks at the audience as if to acknowledge his authorship in the film and also his cameo. It’s also almost like he came out of the door accidentally and thought ‘Oh heck! We’re filming!’

 

Great analysis of the music, Chris. Thanks!

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  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

​           ​   We learn that how she looks, how she  dresses and how she appears are very important to Marnie. Her hair, makeup and color coordination must be just perfect. We see that she has good taste in her clothes and accessories. They are of very high quality and from name brand boutiques. She has a real fashion sense about her. She has plenty of cash in her possession.  She is changing her identity is this scene. She changes her hair color, loads every stick of her previous identity into the grey suitcase and than ditches it all in the locker at the train station. She does not plan to return to it as evidenced by ditching the key. She changes her name and selects a new Social Security card to go along with this change.  This of course leaves us with many unanswered questions as to why and who is she really. Is she involved in criminal activity? Is she a secret agent? Notice that each of her fake id's have a first name that starts with the letter "M"... ease to remember or an homage to ​Dial M for Murder? Objects are very valuable and important to Marnie but if necessary she can walk away from them all.

 

     2.How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

​   

        Hitchcock uses Herrmann's music to add to the mystery as to who Marnie really is. We hear horns and strings playing variations on the same theme over and over again. After Marnie has locked the train station locker the music stops and all we hear is the announcer listing the train departure schedules as Marnie shoves the locker key into the drain. There is no train station sort of theme as we heard in Strangers on a Train​. We just hear this theme which may be Marnie's theme over and over again.

 

      3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

​          In the previous cameos, we have never seen Hitchcock make eye contact with the audience. Usually he is walking across the set as in ​The Birds, boarding a bus or sitting at a desk with his back to us. He usually strives to be there but not to be noticed, not to be too obvious. The variation in Marnie​ is that Hitchcock goes to the point of making eye contact to make sure we don't miss him. As far as its meaning I can only conjecture that Hitchcock is trying to have fun with this cameo. Perhaps Hitchcock is saying "look I know that you won't settle down until you have spotted me.. so alright here I am... you can't miss me,  I looked right at you! Now lets get back to watching ​Marnie.​"  His television openings may have really emboldened him.

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(1) The opening scene shows that Marnie has something—or many things—to hide.  She has various aliases, as indicated by different social security cards.  She has altered her appearance by dying her hair.  Marnie is probably involved in illegal activity based on the amount of cash she has on her person and her disposal of the key to the locker where she stores a suitcase.

 

(2) The score in the opening scene is dramatic and mysterious.  It effectively builds intrigue as we see the various images that give us clues about Marnie’s character.  The music builds and crescendos to the big reveal, the point at which we see Marnie’s face on screen.  I’d say there is also dream-like quality to the music which suggests things may not be as they appear.

 

(3) In Hitch’s cameo in Marnie, he glances at the camera.  I don’t recall him ever breaking the fourth wall before.  I’m uncertain about the meaning of this variation of Hitch’s cameo.  Perhaps his eye contact with the audience is to cue the viewer to keep his eyes peeled for clues pertaining to the mystery surrounding Marnie.

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Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

 

I have watched Marnie many times.  I have to be honest, it is not my favorite Hitchcock, but I do see genius touches throughout the movie so it does engage the audience.  As for Marnie's character I agree with film historians that Hitchcock slightly teases his audiences with throwback ideas from previous movies.  We see Tippi's of Marnie with the things she has stolen  The walking with the black hair, and wool suit harks back to the stiff cold clothes of Kim Novak's character in Vertigo.  The yellow purse in such a bright and striking color choice against her outfit.  Yellow represents "caution' as if she is a child that will later get caught.  It reminds us immediately of Janet' s character in Psycho who steals money.  The scene with Marnie going through the purse and changing social security numbers sets up the interest? Why? Who is this woman.  The washing the black dye out of the hair to be faced then with Tippi with her Hitchcock blonde hair is a familiarity to audiences.  We know Tippi from the Birds. Her hair style when she puts the bag in the locker and hides the key ... she looks Grace Kelly, elegant cold typical Hitchcock blonde.  

 

I guess my problem with MARNIE, is the subject matter. The childhood attempted rape and murder makes Marnie so tragic and pathetic. Tippi in my opinion is my least favorite Hitchcock blonde...  she plays this role a little to melodramatic for me.  I just can't seem to get into her performance ... though over all the movie works.  I like Sean in his role and the mother character is well cast. 

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

Bernard Herrmann's score for Marnie is one of his most beautiful, bittersweet and tragic. It is such a wonderful and surprising departure from earlier scores he wrote such as the frightful horror feel of Hangover Square or Psycho and the hypnotic anxiety of Vertigo.  Herrmann's Marnie is sublimely melancholy, bittersweet and vulnerable setting up Marnie's character so beautifully

 

 

The music that opens the clip is a soft with strings and a notable main theme solo with oboe, and dialogue with other wind instruments.  . We get the impression that there tragedy about Marnie's  situation –perhaps not from the Character’s perception – but how we will witness it as the audience. A short, turning melodic phrase is repeated over and over, maybe subtly suggesting this is neither the first nor the last time this ‘event’ has or will take place with this character. In other words maybe subliminally it suggests a repeated character flaw and neurotic  behavior. The music is Romantically gloomy yet repressed.  We sense that the need for Tippi to change her appearance goes beyond just her kleptomania ... she wants to forget who she really is. 

 
The music does a subtle thing as she reaches for the purse. The short, repeated melodic motif, which had up until this moment had been in 4/4 time, changes to triple meter. This ‘removing’ of one beat per measure is a very subtle increase of urgency – the music is ever so subtly and again almost subliminally increasing in urgency, without the obvious loud crescendo or dramatic acceleration. It is a remarkable use of orchestration to show these action shots. Bernard has always been the master of this.  I wish we could discuss Bernard Herrmann's scores more in class I created a  board topic discussion on Herrmann with specific interest in his Psycho score. 
 
We get a new repeated musical cell, a little more urgent because it is only two notes, over shots of her sorting through multiple social security cards. This two note theme is just the tail end of the previous musical motif, and as such again is a very subtle way to rack up the tension – by further compressing that musical idea. Herrrmann would often morph one musical idea into another through use of intervallic inversion, augmenttation and diminution of themes  Because it is shorter the phrase repeats more quickly. Clearly it parallels the idea that this is a repeated behavior on the part of the character, who has multiple identities and has committed multiple illicit actions. The minimalism of the repeated themes seem to reflect Marnie obsessive phobias and habits. 
 
We then get a slow buildup as she washes dye out of her hair to a climactic musical flourish as she whips her hair back to reveal her new self to us, the audience. I referred to it above as a ‘glamour’shot, and the music establishes that. The lecture video mentioned Hitchcock’s self-referential shots to previous films like psycho, and clearly this is a mini version of the transformation scene in Vertigo, not only visually but more obviously musically. 
The music then abruptly stops as she puts the suitcase into the locker. We are snapped out of this ‘glamour’ moment into reality – the sound of the announcer at the train station and all the ambient noise. We are not in a romantic, luscious moment but rather in reality, and reminded that this is someone on the run because of her criminal behavior.  It is a supreme example how even SILENCE in a musical score can communicate to the audience important ideas or themes. The crescendo builds us to the first view of our Hitchcock Blonde. 
 
This short clip shows the subtle brilliance AND the obvious brilliance (the face reveal) of a masterful film composer at the height of his powers.  I never get tired of of examining and listening to Herrmann's score.  He captures the characters and action so beautifully. I find it interesting that he stays mostly with strings like in Psycho but punctuates with reeeds esp oboe.  Oboe always had a vulnerable melancholy quality and it works well in the Marnie score.  

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

I find this cameo slightly more humorous. He has a close up shot coming out of the apartment and looks directly at the camera with his typical aloof face while Marne is exiting and does a little facial gesture.  It is like to say "Yes, audience I know you are looking for my cameo. so I'm making it obvious, for those new watchers that don't have the sophistication to really watch my movies."  There is a slight bit of snobbery in the shot. It made me laugh instantly.  Second, he looks at Marnie and it is like he is thinking..... You think you know this one... but I'm taking this film in a different direction..  You don't have me figured out.  Ha ha I got you...    I always loved Hitchcock's dry dark humor.  It mimmicks my own.  Well done. 

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Ah Marnie, the movie that Tippi called Hitchcock FAT during the making of the film.  And the third film in the "Hitchcock Blond Trilogy"  Psycho - blond gets killed in shower, The Birds - blond gets terrorized by birds,  Marnie - blond gets raped on wedding night.

 

 

  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.   When we first see Tippi (if you have never seen the film before) she is walking and we do not know who she is or what she is doing. Then we see she has many identities.
  2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?   When we first here "Marnie's theme" for the first time its almost like a glamour way as she washes the dye out of her hair.
  3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?   Hitch is now just doing a normal cameo in this film nothing special.

 

I made this "grind house" trailer for The Girl (HBO film) and Hitchcock.  Its kind of cool

 

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1.       From the opening sequence of Marnie, we know that she is a woman of mystery and possible criminal activity, having disguised herself as a black-haired woman, transported bundles of dollars, and purposely disposed of a key. Hitchcock has us pay attention to the way she packs her pink-lined tan suitcase – meticulously, down to the placement of white gloves wrapped in plastic. We are placed close to her hair as she washes the black dye out in the sink, then close to her smiling face as she flips back her blonde hair (this is the first time we see her face). At the end of the clip, we see a near re-creation of the scene from Notorious (1946) where Ingrid Bergman stealthily disposes of a key so her husband, Claude Rains, won't see it as he hugs her. In both cases we first see the key in the woman's hand, then see her foot kick it out of the way. Here, Marnie kicks it into a grate. As Rich Edwards points out, there are also homages to Psycho (1960) – switching identity from Marion (to Margaret) and water, tinged with darkness, swirling down a drain.

2.       In this scene, when we see Marnie from the back walking down the hallway, composer Bernard Herrmann uses horns to signal mystery and concern. When the action moves to the room where she’s switching suitcases and purses, woodwinds take over the worrisome melody. The music dramatically switches to a flourish of happy strings when Marnie’s face pops up and she pushes back her hair, which is revealed to be blonde. Herrmann's music here is like a Max Steiner score for a Bette Davis movie, reflecting the emotional shifts of the heroine. The music pulls out when Marnie puts her dark suitcase into an airport locker, replaced by announcements on a distant loud speaker.

3.       Hitchcock pops out of “his” hotel room in the opening shot, glancing back and Marnie, then in our direction right before the shot ends. By this point in his career, his cameos in serious films were mostly designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. You could say that he glances in this one to signal us to pay attention to that woman.

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1.    Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.


 


The social security cards are an indication that she maintains several identities. The make-up and hair dye (removed at the sink) are reinforcing the image of her as a person moving incognito, perhaps in espionage.


 


2.    How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?


 


The music provides a sense of unfolding as the character transforms with the removal of hair dye and her assembly of possessions pulled together for an exit routine.


 


3.    Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 


 


He showed his face to the camera. What this means? Not sure. Perhaps he knows by now that audiences expect to see his cameos and he is indulging them with a picture of his face.


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  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.We know she has several identities from the many SS cards, which could lead us to think she's a spy or a criminal.

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?It's very melancholic as we watch her walk, but gets brighter once she's washed the dye from her hair. We get snapped back into reality at the train station when the score ends, and the sounds of the conductor, etc, begin.

 

Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?He looks straight at us, then around to Marnie. Seems he wants us to watch her.

 

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1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects?

 

Based on this opening sequence, you already know that Marnie is skilled at changing her identity; clearly she's had a lot of practice. Hitchcock reveals, through her interaction with objects, that although Marnie likes expensive things, she doesn't place any sentimental value on them. Things are meant to be used and thrown away to Marnie. 

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?

 

Bernard Hermann's score adds a mysterious and suspenseful element to this scene. Because there is no dialogue, we rely on the score to help guide our emotions with what we're seeing.

 

3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

This cameo is different because Hitchcock looks directly at the camera. It's almost as if he's saying, "Are you seeing this girl?" Also, his is the first face we see. We haven't seen Marnie's face yet.

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1. We are led to believe that this character wants to change identities. Having a purse full of cash likely means she has stolen the money. The new clothes and changing of her hair colour combined with her multiple Social Security Cards means likely means that she is has been down this road before and is planning to change identities. 

 

2. The score helps introduce the mystery surrounding the character. We can see that she is discarding her old identity, clothes etc, and the music sets a mood of uncertainty. 

 

3. He looks at Marnie passing and then directly at the camera as if to say I'm here to tell a story and you, the audience, are about to go on a journey with the title character. He appears to be inserting himself more into the film.  

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1) Marnie is a very expensive soul that likes going incognito. She owns expensive luggage, purses, etc. Also she has different forms of social security cards which she can essentially use at her own free will, and the scene in which she removes the dye from her hair is extremely pivotal to the concept on taking on other identities or personalities to cover up for criminal activities perhaps?

 

2) The score adds an element of mystery to the otherwise silent scene. Considering Marnie is silent during her transformation if you will the score provides us with the doses of emotions we should be feeling. At this exact moment with the changing of the hair color and the many forms of identification there is an undeniable feeling of curiosity and intrigue to what exactly Marnie does for a living or what is the significance of her putting on so many identities in her everyday life.

 

3) His cameo is very direct compared to either walking off frame, or appearing in a newspaper clipping (Lifeboat) however, it is also important because we see his face before we actually see Marnie's. It's almost a joke in the essence that his reaction of Marnie is almost more important than the actual reveal of Marnie herself, etc. 

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1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects?

Marnie is an identity thief: She already has a collection of Social Security cards with many different names. She knows how to switch from one identity to another: She’s evidently had a lot of practice because she moves from one identity-changing task to another without much thought. The amount of money in the yellow purse probably means that she’s a thief. She’s on the run and willing to leave her past identity behind because she leaves her belongings in a station locker and drops the key in a grate.

(Goodbye!)

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann’s score in this scene?

The score isn’t unsettling. I think it underscores Marnie’s skill in switching identities. She’s on the run, but no one is running after her. She just wants to get away from her former life, and she’s moving on to a new one.

(Hello!)

 

3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means?

When Hitchcock opens the door and steps into the hallway, he turns and looks back toward the camera. It’s almost like a distraction to help Marnie get away. Or maybe it’s supposed to seem like a mistake that he wants to make obvious for the camera and thus for the viewers. It’s much more self-conscious than other cameos that I have seen in his films because he seems to break the fourth wall.

(Here’s my cameo, viewers. Now watch the film.)

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  1. Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.

         We see that Marnie, like most of us, has created multiple false identities for herself and disguises her

         appearance accordingly. 

 

         Just kidding about the "like most of us." But Marnie does appear to have multiple identities, based on her  collection of social security cards, and she does appear to change her look with each new identity (in this case, her hair color and her clothing).

 

         Her interaction with the clothing used in her old identity indicates it held no emotional attachment for her, as she callously kicks it to the curb when she no longer has a use for it (well, tosses it in a suitcase, as opposed to carefully packing it, as she does with the clothing for her new identity as Margaret Edgar).

 

​I was a bit puzzled by her social security cards. Certainly, the multiple cards were meant to inform us that she uses multiple aliases or identities, but if she wanted to be careful about concealing her ruses, why does she carry the cards with her? Yes, I understand that they were hidden in her compact, but they would not have been hard to find. Also, why was she using an older card (6-9-59) for her new identity as Margaret Edgar? The identity she was now discarding (Marion Holland) was issued on 4-5-60. Also, based on the area codes on her social security cards (the first three numbers), she applied for her first identity in California, her second in New York, her third in California again, and her fourth in Arkansas!       

 

In case, you are wondering by now, I am not obsessed with Social Security cards. I had to look up which area codes were assigned to which states. The point I am really trying to make is that I think we can over-analyze the "clues" that film Directors give us. In this case, I suspect Hitchcock was just trying to show us that Marion, or Margaret, or whatever her name was, was a criminal (based on the sheaves of money that she dumped from her old purse), who used multiple identities and disguises. To try to read more into this might be a fun exercise (such as trying to divine the meaning of his cameos), but we can never be certain what Hitchcock had in mind, can we? For example, we know that he used multiple recurring plot devices (such as a key in Notorious and Marnie, an item falling through a grate in Strangers on a Train and ​Marnie, water going down a drain in Psycho and Marnie​, etc.; even his recurring use of scenes on a train and icy blondes, but did Hitchcock ever discuss the personal meanings these things had for him?

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? 

 

​I could not possibly analyze this better than Chris Coombs did (see 8:54 in this thread).      

 

3. Did you see any variation in what Hitchcock is doing with his cameo in this film, and what do you think that variation means? 

 

​This is the first cameo I have seen in which Hitchcock looks directly at the camera. I do not know what that means. Personally, I thought it was a bit distracting. I prefer his other cameos, which are so unobtrusive that they are easy to miss. I like the explanation offered that he was at this point aware that audiences were looking for his often difficult-to-spot cameos, so he put this one in early in the film and made it easy to spot, so that the audience could proceed with just watching the movie.    

 

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Of course we know her character is changing and for reasons. The dramatic effect of the hair color from black (the criminal) to blonde (hitch's angel fetish), you expect her, this time, to go as a respectable character in her next ID change. I love the use of color in the objects as well. They all tell a picture. The bags, the items in the bags even the key is colored, to point the ease of bright disappearing. A book could be written on how hitch uses color, details always say something.

 

Her interactions with the objects reflect careful prep and planning.

 

The score is as haunting as vertigo but with a climax of her hair thrown back, the music and the visual are sexual in nature, unlike vertigo.

 

Cameo, maybe we are going to see something uncomfortable.

 

Just a note, casting the male lead with Sean was not a good choice. Needed a Grant type.

This is the only reason I believe this film misses, if only slightly.

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1) Marnie appears to be a very focused woman, knowing exactly what she wants to do and how to do it. She has obviously come upon a large amount of money, probably illegally and this requires an identity change which, according to her SSN cards, she has been prepared for.

 

2) Hermann has set us with a suspenseful theme that will echo Marnie's personality throughout the film.

 

3) I did not really like Hitchcock's cameo in this film, it started out okay, but when he looks back at the camera, it is just wrong.

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The viewer sees expensive items being carefully packed into an exquisite suitcase, which is next to an older piece of luggage where worn clothing is being carelessly tossed.  The last item added to her suitcase was bundles of money, which we suspect may be stolen by the scene we are shown.  With the fanning of the Social Security cards, we know the character has several identities.  It's notable that Hitchcock appears to have an obsession with names starting with "Ma," as we see Martha, Mary, Margaret and Marion on the cards.  Of course, the lead character is Marnie, right in line with the others.  I wonder if Hitchcock called his mother "ma" (which is common), and these M characters have some twisted connection?

 

The music adds a tone of intrigue and suspense, as we wonder where that money came from and why she is using multiple identities.  There is a sense of urgency and anticipation with the quick pace of the music, but not real danger.      

 

Hitchcock's cameo is a direct nod to the viewer with a different kind of "do you see me" vibe to it, when compared to his earlier ones.  It's almost as if he's saying, I know you're expecting me, so here I am!        

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