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Tippi Hedren talks ‘Marnie’ on 50th anniversary

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POSTED: June 21, 2014 12:00 p.m.
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Sean Connery and Hedren in Marnie color

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Released in the summer of 1964, “Marnie” wasn’t a typical Alfred Hitchcock thriller. While a moderate success at the box office, the eponymous psychological mystery was panned by some critics at the time.
“People didn’t understand the film when it first came out,” said Tippi Hedren, who starred as Marnie, a disturbed woman, compulsive liar and thief, with a disdain for men.
“Something really bad happened in Marnie’s childhood,” she said. “Critics look at ‘Marnie’ entirely differently today, now that we understand more about how an early traumatic experience can manifest itself later in adult life. The story was really ahead of its time.”
Hedren was determined to prepare for the role.
“I read the novel the film was based on over and over, spoke with author Winston Graham, and consulted psychologists and psychiatrists in order to understand the character,” she said.
Although Hedren embraced the role, her cold, man-hating character had little interest in embracing costar Sean Connery.
“The man was absolutely gorgeous,” Hedren said of Connery. “I asked Hitch how could I play a character who wasn’t attracted to one of the sexiest men alive.”
His response, she said, was typical Hitchcock: “It’s called acting, my dear.”
Hedren’s acting skills also were evident in one scene where she appears to confidently gallop along on horseback. In fact, she was perilously staged atop a horse trotting on a treadmill.
“It was horribly dangerous — a horse on a treadmill! If he had tripped, I would have gone flying off,” Hedren said. “Hitchcock made me do such dangerous things, I’m amazed I’m still alive.”
While gratified by her family and other work, Hedren remains proud of “Marnie.”
“I’m glad the story is more understood and appreciated today,” she said. ”It was a fascinating role to delve into.”

Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns and interviews for over 400 publications.

 

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