Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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I’ll be honest.  I’ve only seen Marnie once, many years ago.  I don’t remember being very impressed.  I think it may be time to re-watch it with a fresh perspective.

 

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 the opening scene, the character of Marnie is completely in control of her actions.  There is nothing hesitant in her movement.  When we do see her face, which is not often in the opening scene, we do not see fear; we see purpose.  We are instantly convinced this woman is guilty of something.

The scene is one of transformation.  She literally throws away her old life into a suitcase.   Everything is tossed haphazardly into a crumpled mess.  Her new life, her new identity is treated with care and precision.  We know already that she manages different names and social security numbers.

What’s interesting is that we see Tippi from behind.   We see her from hip to neck.  We see her hands.  And that’s really all we need to see at this point to make our initial judgements about the character.

 

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

The two words that come to mind in the beginning of the scene are: thoughtful and meditative, when referring to the score.  But then I notice as we approach of the moments of her physical transformation, the tempo quickens and reaches a crescendo when she becomes the ‘cool blonde’.  After that, I notice the score disappears into thin air.  Hitchcock no longer wants Hermann to take us on the emotional ride with Marnie through the transformation.  He wants to place the character in a more realistic setting of a bus or rail terminal with the appropriate background noises.

The score takes us through Marnie’s calm, cool, calculated moves, on through the cathartic metamorphosis, and then back to a more realistic context.

 

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 case of Marnie, it doesn’t seem to be an ‘accident on purpose’ anymore.   It’s almost like Hitch is just phoning it in now because it’s something that’s expected of him.  There’s nothing entertaining or humorous about his cameo here.  Before this he’d be walking dogs, showing up in a newspaper on a lifeboat, missing a city bus.  Here, he actually turns toward the camera as if to say ‘we good?’ 

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1. We see in these scene that Marnie is a thief who has stolen a lot of money and purchased new clothes and accessories. She is neatly packing her new items in a large suitcase while tossing the old items carelessly in a old suitcase. She changes her Id card so we see she has done this before because she has several to choose from. She does not seem to be in a hurry. She is not moving in a frantic way, instead she is very poised and calm as she prepares for her getaway. She then rinses her dark hair to reveal her natural blonde hair. She puts the old suitcase with her old items in a locker. She then drops the key down a grate. she does not plan to come back for these items and doesn't want them found easily. She is leaving this identity behind and putting on the new as she makes her escape.

 

2. Bernard Herrman's score starts out as quiet and builds in intensity as Marnie is packing her new items. It picks up the tempo and gets louder as Marnie is rinsing her hair and builds up til her face is revealed and we see a beautiful blonde.

 

3. In this cameo Hitchcock looks directly at the camera, as if to say "Who was that?" He is telling us "You better keep your eye on that one".  

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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. Without words we discover, that she is a criminal. She stolen money, she creates a new identity from amoung her various SSN cards, she buys brand new clothes and throws away others, she rinses out her hair color for another, she hides a suite case in a locker only to purposely loose the key so no one can ever open it. She is running from something.

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The first shot of Hedren is very dramatic as the score rises to a climactic resolution when we see her "new" look.

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 is starting to show more of himself than just quick pecks of himself.

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The opening scene of Hitchcock's Marnie echoes the themes of identity and transformation seen in his past films. One in particular is Vertigo. I think the elegant and feminine piece score of Herrmann relies incredibly on Vertigo's transformation of Judy to Madeline, notice the hair color. I think Hitchcock toyed with the idea of women having the possibility of having different identities, greatly focusing on their sexuality. 

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  1. . She wants to acquire objects and the power they give her to create new selves or identities.  She is dishonest and clever about it, successful at beating the system (how did she get four different Social Security cards, the money). She can discard items even though she needs them for her rues.  She buys (steals) the best.  She wants to live high class and will do what it takes.  I would guess that she interacts with objects better than people.

     

  2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?  It gives a sophisticated feel.

 

The cameos are sometimes cute but they get annoying, and from the perspective years later they are like Stan Lee being in the comic book movies.  In this one he looked briefly at the camera—that’s new.  It adds a level of self-awareness, winking at the camera feel. This is also done in such a way that no one would miss it. 

 

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Marine is behaving with precision and total self control while changing her image. It's perfection right down to her nails. Selecting SS card allows the viewer to gain the knowledge she's done this before. I wouldn't doubt if each card represented a different hair color etc. out with old.... in with the new..... as seen with two suitcases. She is totally abandoning her old portrayed self. Interesting all first names are Mar including the films title. I've not seen the film so not sure if these last names are previous marriages or just false identity. I assume the later. The new self reserved and calculated down to hiding any evidence of old self. Our first shot of her is mysterious, I liked the expression when she came up blonde it looked resfreshed and burden lifted. Perhaps the loot may have something to do with it. The key drops down the grate gives the impression she has gotten away with a crime.

 

I felt a loneliness in the musical score. Longing, mystery, and a journey driven by passion or maybe pain.

 

Hitchcock immediately gave me a feeling of he's been listening in, following our character, or up to something. He is not a passerby like other cameos. Looking to see if anyone else is round. Or possibly, looking at us the audience inviting us to join the film as the details are unfolding. I felt a welcome from his presence.

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Daily Dose #19 - Marnie

 

"My name's Rutland, Mark Rutland..."

 

Looking forward to seeing this film, as I am a huge Connery fan.  The look of Tippi Hendren in the daily dose reminded me or two actresses - One a contemporary of Hendren's, the other with a strong connection.  She first reminded me of Sandy Dennis (Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf) and of course, Hendren's daughter Melanie Griffith.  

 

 

 

I can't imagine anyone else to play these parts!

 

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In the opening scene, Marnie is revealed to be a deceitful character, but one who values quality 'things'.  Marnie gently folds and places her spoils of finer clothing, including white gloves into the nicer suitcase, while disposing of her other clothes.  Does she find identity in objects, or worship them?  As noted in the lecture, Marnie does seem to be channeling Marion Crane from Psycho -- the social security card she was using was even issued to a Marion.  (As an aside, people in earlier times did carry their social security cards, something people would hardly ever do today out of fear of identity theft.)

 

The Bernard Herrmann score is very reminiscent of his score for Vertigo, and the crescendo as Marnie's face and blonde hair are revealed blairs out "Aha".

 

As Alfred Hitchcock emerges from a hotel room, he glances toward the camera (and the other way as well), almost appearing to have a guilty look on his face.  Why?

 

 

 

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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.

 

We see that Marie is running away from something maybe by changing her hair colour.  We learn that she has multiple social security numbers and we see money most likely stolen!

Also we see two suitcases - one messy and colourful the other perfect and plain.

 

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

 

​The score speeds use along and almost guides us to key points - money, social security cards, the key.

 

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

 

It was in the opening scene and I find with most of his cameos he doesn't look directly at us, here is does.

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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.

 

I saw Marnie when it first came out and was disappointed in the film. I’ll have to watch again tonight. It’s obvious that Marnie has various identities that she uses for nefarious purposes. Her first appearance is all in dark colors as is her hair. She washes the dye out of her hair and tosses all the items relating to that incarnation into a dark suitcase, which she abandons in a train station locker, tossing away that identity with her key. Does she leave the boxes and wrapping paper of these new items in the hotel room? The items she tosses haphazardly into the left suitcase are all lighter colors except for the dark suit under which they’re concealed. Her yellow bag stood out as a lighter color more suited to her natural appearance. Does she use the yellow bag, seemingly out of place with the dark clothing, as a touchstone of her true identity? What appears to be the next “personality” starts fresh with another suitcase, tan in color, full of cash and brand new items in browns and grays. I think this represents her true self, idling in neutral. She sorts through her Social Security cards, all with the same birth year, looking at each one as if she’s not sure of who she is or wants to be. I didn’t see her put the card she had just been using back into her compact, so does she leave it behind or retrieve it out of our sight? That handy little tool to open the secret compartment acts as a symbol of her hidden personalities she keeps locked inside herself. Her hair is free flowing in her alter ego, but is very tightly coiffed in her new personality.

 

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

The music for the first character in black wavers back and forth in a somber, unsettling tone. It’s sort of the rhythm my mind has as I’m thinking about different approaches to a situation – ‘do I do this thing’ or ‘do I do that thing’. I can hear Marnie saying to herself in a sing-song fashion – “I used to be Marion” –“Now I’ll be Margaret”. As she lifts her head to face the mirror with her blonde hair, the music goes into a sweeping, romantic style, much like you hear when a glamourous creature emerges on the screen. It’s a more confident sound, one in which I think Marnie feels in control. And the music fades into the natural sounds of the train station as she locks her previous identity away.

 

 

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?

I don’t remember Hitchcock ever looking at the audience in his cameo appearances. It’s as if the viewer is approaching from his right. He notices Marnie as she passes, and then sees us as if we are in the hall with him. And it was also like a “did you see that?” And other than his introductions to his television shows, this is really the first time in his films that he’s peeped at his audience to let them know he’s been watching us as well.

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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 a mysterious woman. Hitchcock reveals her as this woman we don't know anything about. All we get to see from the objects that are shown through interaction is that she's probably a criminal or a spy on the run.

 

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

 

The music is definitely used in a more sophisticated, smooth and maybe even more soothing way than the previous soundtracks. The score gives you the easy romantic feeling.

 

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?

 

Most of Hitchcock's cameos are variations of a person who's kinda lost, maybe a passer by that coincidentally breaks concentration of the audience sometimes in a comical attitude. In Marnie the cameo seems more of a person trying to figure it out what the commotion is all about. Distracting but at the same time inducing the audience's curiosity.

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1. In the opening scene of Marnie we learn some things about her. She is obviously concealing her identity. In fact, she has many identities. One might wonder if she is a spy, as she calmly packs and ditches her old clothes in one suitcase and packs brand new, still in the package clothes in another. She seems organized and methodical. There is no hesitation or panic, just calm actions.

2. Herrmann's score is sad and haunting. It builds to a crescendo when the audience finally gets to see the face of the woman we have been following. The music is beautiful to match the beautiful woman, but there is a sadness and longing in the music that signals all is not right in this story.

3. In his cameo in Marnie, there is no element of humor. He simply comes out of a hotel room door into the hallway. In other films there is usually some element of humor, sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, but always there. This cameo is devoid of humor. I think this variation means that this movie is to be taken seriously as a serious comment on whatever it's theme will be.

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Maybe it was just me, but, during the lecture video of "Marnie" I couldn't help but get distracted by the bright red coffee mugs on the table.  :D

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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.  Right away, we get the distinct impression that this is a woman running away from something.  She is first shown with the bright yellow bag and suitcase on a train platform.  Later, in a hotel room (once again, a hotel room as starting point of a narrative associated with theft) we see money dumped out of a bag, making the assumption that the woman must be the thief, and has expensive taste, having acquired new clothes and what appears to be a very nice new suitcase (the box inside obviously from a high end boutique with the fancy cursive 'Alberts' logo).  The stash of social security cards with varying names and issue dates as a way to visually convey a change of identity is GENIUS.  New things neatly packed, while things from the previous life tossed carelessly into the old gray bag.  So -- a woman, probably a thief, with good taste who is running away and changing her identity -- all without one word of dialogue.  I also like the comments from the professors' lecture video that the shot of washing the dark hair dye down the sink resembles the Psycho shower 'drain' shot, and also the Judy/Madeline makeover at the spa in Vertigo.

 

How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? The score goes into a soft, almost contemplative mood as the camera follows Marnie, again from behind, we have yet to see her face.  As we see the hair dye being washed out, the tempo and volume slowly increase and climax into the opening theme's motif when we finally see Marnie's face, almost a fanfare of her introduction.  Another word about sound -- if one listens closely to the announcements being made on the public address system in the train station, the cities being announced indicate that Marnie is about to head south -- "Wilmington, Washington, Richmond, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Fayetteville, Florence, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville"....

 

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 definitely looks as if he has been caught doing something naughty by the audience.  I like the comments by the others in the forum that this is the first cameo where he breaks the 'fourth wall' and seems to acknowledge the audience...never thought of that!  To this point, in my readings about Hitchcock, I have always had the impression that he was a man that was frightened of the world in many ways (fear of the police, fear of driving, etc) and always saw this cameo as (also) of a frightened Hitchcock venturing into the world, or into the world of the film's setting.

 

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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 right away that this woman's is making herself over when the two suitcases appear. She is dumping things in the suitcase on the left, which represents her old identity, while the other suitcase is packed very neatly with her new clothes. These new outfits are Hitchcock's visual representation of her new identity. We don't know why she is making this change, we can only assume it is to hide from someone or criminal activity.

 

Once again, the audience has more knowledge about the character than the other characters in the film. By giving us the visual clues early on, Hitchcock puts us ahead of the game when it comes to events unfolding in the film.

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1) In this opening scene, the camera (POV) follows an elegantly dressed brunette clutching a suspicious looking yellow handbag. She is gracefully walking toward a hotel room and is being helped with her many packages by a bellboy.We have not seen her face yet. The suspense builds.... The next scene in the room, she is again with her back to us and busy switching suitcases. One has used clothing and the other she fills with expensive items straight out of the box, including two sets of new gloves.This is reminiscent of REAR WINDOW where the belongings and brief action tells us about the character. We immediately get to see that this lady is adept at what she does; switching identifications and getting a hold of a lot of money. (reminiscent of PSYCHO) When she removes the dark dye from her hair in the bathroom it's with confidence and ease like an expert. We finally see her face smugly looking back at us like the cat who ate the canary.

 

2) The score is fully orchestrated, rich and full of tension like the character Hitch is introducing us to. I agree with Professor Edwards that it is a haunting melody and it does a lot to humanize Marnie. In that one scene when she raises her head to show her new blond tresses the music reaches a crescendo like her actions. What a great partnership conductor and director had!!!

 

3) From the Steve Vertlieb article I learned that by this movie Hitchcock was well known and recognized all over. It seems to me that his ego had also grown. His appearance in this cameo seems quite different. It's the first time that he looks at the camera sort of saying, "hey, here I am". Before Marnie, his cameos were a puzzle or humorous, you had to look for him. Like his movie themes, he has become more daring. Why not, he is the Master.

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Like the opening scene of Strangers on a Train, this first scene of Marnie shows us the main character without revealing her face. The famous opening of Strangers on a Train focuses in the shoes of the two men just before they meet; here, we see Marnie from behind and then simply her arms and hands as she interacts with various objects. The effect is that we as an audience are forced to pay attention to what she is doing and make inferences about her as a character. Marnie is methodically dumping items from one suitcase to another, many of them new and still in their packaging. She takes a purse and turns it upside down, revealing several wads of cash. We are already wondering where she got the money, where she is going, and why it seems she is concealing her identity.

When she washes her hair, we finally see Tippi Hedren's face. She changes from a brunette to a blond. Music swells as she does so. This reminds me a lot of Vertigo and Kim Novak's physical transformation. The Hitchcock cameo is notable as he actually briefly looks at the camera. This may be significant considering that we have not yet seen Marnies face.

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We  notice that the brunette is running away from what we don't know. She has different social security cards and money. She washes out her hair dye and has blonde hair. The suspense builds up when she has the key in her hand. The score is suspenful. His appearence is different than in the other films. Its not a game anymore to find Hitchcock.

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1.    Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? She may have a split personality (two pieces of luggage:  one neatly organized and one that items are literally tossed into); that she is leaving her past behind (and it was probably a past that included nefarious actions including theft as illustrated by her disguise and all of the “loot”); she has taken on different personas in the past (as evidenced by the multiple Social Security cards).  In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects.  She changes her hair color.  She goes from someone who doesn’t care about her things to someone care a lot based on her meticulous packing.  She also changes into a conservative outfit with an up-do.  Very straight-laced and proper.


2.    How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene?  The music seems suspenseful but not overly dramatic, so it makes the viewer wonder what’s going on.  Is this a drama?  A suspense movie?  You can’t tell.


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?  It’s the first time he breaks the 4th wall by looking directly at the camera.  He seems to clearly be “winking at the audience.”  His look says “you may think you know what’s going to happen, but you don’t.”


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1. You can tell that she is a crook, has multiple identities, lots of money, and can change her appearance and cover her tracks (by dumping the key).

2. The score seems melodramatic, like it is building up to something as yet to unfold.

3. Hitch looks away, like he has seen something that he shouldn't have.

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The opening is very revealing about Marnie.  She lives multiple lives is very neat and she steals for the sake of stealing.  I like Hitchcock's use of color, her yellow purse, it means caution.   

 

The music is beautiful, haunting and has the effect of movement.  We see Marnie's legs long before we see her face.  We also see Hitch watching her as she goes down the hall and he looks back to make sure no one is watching him, watching her. He is a rascal.

 

The objects he uses as nodes to his other films: the money, "Shadow of a Doubt" the hair dye down the drain, "Pyhsco", the key down the drain, "Shadow" again.  

 

I won't go into the relationship with her mother and her fear of the color red and her obsession with keys and things that are locked here!

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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 strikes me a a person that could be dishonest, but is used to transformation and doesn't intend to reuse another persona over. She tosses her old identity, including clothes and possessions and then loses the key to her old identity never to return to it.

 

2. How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? It's understated at first and then builds when she is changing her identity.

 

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?  Hitchcock normally is just in the cameo as a man on the street but here he looks at the camera and possible acknowledges the audience.

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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.

 

She may be a criminal or a secret agent, but when we see all the unusually large amount of money we know her to be a thief.  I laughed out loud at the dying of her hair from black to blonde like it would be so easy, especially to do that in the hotel sink.  We know she has good taste in clothes and she spent a lot of money to create a new imagine of herself with the hotel porter having to carry all of her many boxes.  We know time is critical as she is quickly unpacking the store boxes of clothes and put them in her new suitcase all nice and neat.  The old items she is going to leave at the train locker.  A misnomer to think that is safe there but throwing away the key.  Like the train station wouldn't have another key.  That was her one mistake.   We know her current name and the new one she chooses out of three.  Her birth year, 1959 is told, although the film came out in 1964.  We know she is experienced with her secret compartments and seems to be alone.

 

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

 

He swirls us around with the music and adds just enough to create a slowly growing climax, but doesn't distract us from watching all that is going on.  No words as needed as we are taking the visual and auditory tour until we arrive at the train station.

 

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 is telling us unlike 'Psycho,' this thief is different.  She is not a first time virginal thief, but one that is practiced and professional.  They both are beautiful, but Marnie appears more cultured and polished.  He is telling us there is a pretty thief in this film, but that is where the commonality ends.  Important for him to do this as we see the same type of blonde and need to know it is not a sequel by any means.  This blonde, unlike the others has her hair not only up in a bun, but kind of severe and high.  She already has a high forehead so this adds to her height and makes her seem tense, unlike her character in, "The Birds."

 

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Marnie is a character of many characters. This opening scene indicates multiple identities accompanying an endless amount of secrets. Hitchcock lends direct focus to Marnie packing two suitcases with each having stark and blatant contrasts as to the origin and organization of their contents. These two suitcases are obvious representations​ of differing identities.

 

Marnie is readily decisive with her choosing amongst the two suitcases, which exhibits a possible plan of escape. After thumbing through a litany of identification cards, she settles on one, and exits the hotel with a suitcase in each hand. Marnie then elects to stowaway a suitcase of identity she did not seek to assume.

 

Hitchcock​ displays Marnie only through images within this opening scene. His revealing of such information conjures up varying thoughts as to who Marnie really is. Is this woman really Marnie? Or is Marnie simply her favorite of all her identities? The most telling of her decisions in the selection of her identities is the drastic changing of her hair color; black to blonde.

 

Herrmann’s score sounds as though it's the same composition used in different keys and tones. This conveys the sameness yet differentiation of Marnie and her identities; she's physically the same woman, but assumes different personas. Hitchcock utilizes Herrmann's score to the utmost effect when focusing on the two suitcases, as the musical piece rises and falls in its intensity and volume. At the score’s peak, Marnie is officially revealed as a blonde woman now free from a facade. Hitchcock's coupling of this musical intensity with how Marnie is revealed nearly plays as a light-hearted narrative with romantic elements.

 

Hitchcock emerges from a hotel room just down the hallway from Marnie. Upon his exit, his eyes make direct contact with the camera as though he's looked directly at the audience. I don't recall Hitchcock ever looking at the camera, which is a deviation from his typical cameo. This could potentially​ signify a request from the audience. Hitchcock has looked into the camera, so we need to look into Marnie as a character. We need take a head dive into who she is as he peels back the depths and layers of such a persona.

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1.    Based on the opening sequence alone, what do you feel you already know about Marnie as a character? We know that this character is a con artist. There may have been other explanations for why she is using a false identity, but when she dumps that purse full of money into the “keep” suitcase, it erases all doubt. In what ways does Hitchcock visually reveal her character through her interaction with objects. She is completely discarding her present identity. While she carefully and uniformly packs the new suitcase that will take her into her new persona, she carelessly tosses all her clothing and possessions into the “dispose” suitcase. She is done with it (cemented by dropping the key to the locker through the floor grate.) We see her walk away in her tastefully tailored suit.

2.    How does Hitchcock use Bernard Herrmann's score in this scene? We first have a measured musical background that slowly gains momentum as the character discards her old life and takes on her new one until the crescendo when she raises her head from the sink where she’s shampooed out the dark hair dye and looks triumphantly (and very blonde) into the mirror.

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? It’s impossible to miss this cameo. It even appears, for a second, that he’s making eye contact with the camera. He is being furtive and apparently has his own secrets to keep.

 

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