Alfred Hitchcock: the truth about Marnie.
Part 1: Jack the Ripper and the Superbitch Prostitute

by Theodore Price

[Editor's note.  Dr Price teaches in the English Department at Montclair State University, New Jersey.  He is the author of an under-appreciated study originally called 'Hitchcock and Homosexuality: His 50-Year Obsession with Jack the Ripper and the Superbitch Prostitute - A Psychoanalytic View' (1992), soon to be re-issued as a paperback.  The book's title refers to how so many of Hitchcock's films are presented - in effect, and at some level - through the eyes of an arch misogynist whose real-life prototype was Jack the Ripper, slayer of prostitutes.  From Ivor Novello in The Lodger to Barry Foster in Frenzy, 'Avenger'-figures have been portrayed in Hitchcock's films; but a related 'master narrative' informs many more of the films, including Marnie, which is analysed here in a chapter from Dr Price's book.  Although it's fair to say that Dr Price rather ignores the 'look' of the films and their full complexity, what he does do - cogently and with rhetorical vigour - is bring out their almost 'Buñuelian' content.  Dr Price would welcome feedback from our readers:]

THE STORYLINE IS (OSTENSIBLY) about a man who falls in love with a thief. The man is Sean Connery. The thief is Tippi Hedren. At first, the man does not know that the woman is a thief. But then, when he finds out, he up and marries her!

The woman's modus operandi is to get a clerical job at some company where she has near-access to the company safe. Then she robs (burgles) the safe, runs off with the money, assumes a new alias, then gets a similar job with another company and robs it.

The film begins just as she has run off with the money from an accounting firm owned by Martin Gabel (who is just marvelous in his role). "Robbed!" he cries out. (It is the first word in the movie.) "And that girl did it: Marion Holland."

Tippi, following Hitch's pattern in many of his other movies, likes to use an alias where her first name begins with the letter M. When she sets out to rob the firm owned by Sean Connery, she will use the name Mary Taylor. But her real first name in the movie is - Marnie.

At Martin Gabel's firm, Tippi had been a black-haired brunette. We see her (from the back) with jet-black hair, first at a train station, then in a hotel room (two of Hitch's favorite "locales"). But in the hotel room bathroom (an even "more" favorite locale of Hitch's) we see her washing out the black dye, and we realize that she is a stunning blonde, an ice-cold blonde.

Between burglaries, what Marnie (Tippi) likes to do is to visit and ride upon a horse she owns, which she refers to as her "darling." When the horse attendant mentions that the horse almost bit him, Tippi looks lovingly at the animal and says to him, "Oh, if you want to bite somebody, bite me!"

After each burglary, Tippi visits her crippled mother in her lower-class home in Baltimore, by the oceanside. (The mother had suffered a leg injury when Tippi was about five and refers to the incident as her "accident." The mother is played by Louise Latham, also marvelously.)

Here we learn that Tippi keeps her mother with the money she steals, though the mother does not know that her daughter is a thief. She thinks that Tippi is the private secretary of a "millionaire," who is as generous to Tippi "as if she were his own daughter." They even have a quarrel about this, as though Tippi is suspected of being the millionaire's mistress.

For the mother is a Bible-quoting obsessive, who is suspicious of and hates men. She thinks that her daughter is "too smart to get mixed up with men." We also learn that the daughter, too, is hostile to men: "We don't need men, Momma. We can do very well for ourselves."

Tippi, we learn, feels unloved by her mother, has a phobia for the color red, and has recurrent nightmares (of someone hitting her mother during a thunderstorm).

Tippi's new quarry is a publishing firm owned by Sean Connery, of a Main Line family in Philadelphia. He is her new prey, her new "mark." (Indeed, Mark is his first name in the movie.) Connery's firm is Martin Gabel's biggest client, and Connery was in Gabel's office when Gabel learned of the burglary and described the beautiful thief.

When Tippi is interviewed for the new job at Connery's (by the personnel manager, who does not want to hire her), with Connery looking on, we do not know whether Connery suspects her or not, even though she now has brown hair instead of jet-black, as Gabel described her. At any rate, Connery goes against his manager's advice, and has her taken on.

Connery is a widower, whose wife has recently died. (She had been an heiress he had married.) His wife's younger sister is the beautiful Diane Baker, who is in love with him and would like him to marry her.

On the one hand, Diane Baker is Hitch's Snotty-Little-Girl character, grown up - recall Teresa Wright's snotty young sister in Shadow of a Doubt, and Ruth Roman's snotty young sister in Strangers on a Train, Pat Hitchcock. On the other hand, she is one of the Wicked Stepsisters in the Cinderella story Hitch liked so much. Hitch told Truffaut, "If you want to reduce Marnie to its lowest denominator, it is the story of the prince and the beggar girl."

She is also a version of the Mother herself, like each of the mothers in Notorious and Psycho, who suspects Tippi the moment Connery introduces her, the girl being able to fool the son but not the mother. Indeed (and amusingly), once, when Connery asks Diane to be a "friend" to Tippi, she uses an expression almost identical to the one Tony Perkins uses in Psycho when talking to Janet Leigh: "I always thought that a girl's best friend was her mother."

When Connery needs someone to do typing on a Saturday at his office, they send Tippi (who has volunteered for all the "overtime" she can get). Connery wants her to type up an article he has written on the predatory habits of a female jaguarundi. (He is an amateur zoologist, who is especially interested in the psychology of female predators.) He has earlier noticed Tippi's fear of the color red; and now, when there is a thunderstorm, he sees that she is afraid of storms too. He comforts her, and kisses her.

When Connery discovers Tippi's fascination with horses, he takes her on dates to a nearby racetrack. On one afternoon, there is a short sequence where a little man in a porkpie hat comes up to her and says that he thinks they have met before, in Detroit. She tells him he must be mistaken, even though he is sure he is not.

The sequence is meant to indicate that Tippi has committed other robberies before the one at Martin Gabel's. The sequence is highly amusing because when the little man in the porkpie hat keeps insisting, Connery lets him know that he had better be off, the film having been released at a time when Connery was especially well known for his James Bond persona. Yet the sequence seems to carry more significance than this, and we shall return to it later, for it provides, I contend, the chief clue to what Marnie is really all about.

It is evident that the Lord, Connery, has been "taken" with the poor-but-beautiful Commoner, Tippi. He has been courting her, and his affection has seemingly been returned. At any rate, he now takes her to his mansion-like Philadelphia home, to meet his father, who is a horse fancier and is, therefore, delighted to learn that Tippi is too. (Here, Tippi meets the jealous sister-in-law, Diane Baker, who is as hostile to her as the father is friendly.) Connery is wealthy enough to have a stable on his estate, and it is here that he and Tippi kiss, just as it is at a stable that Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak kiss in Vertigo.

But if Connery thinks that Tippi really likes him, he is mistaken. It has all been an act. The whole time he has been kissing and courting her, she has been awaiting her chance to get at his safe with the money. When the chance presents itself, she up and robs him, and runs off, just as she had earlier robbed Martin Gabel and run off. But, detective-like, Connery hunts her down (through her interest in horses), and catches her. He has enough evidence to have her put in jail for years.

She tells him that she really cannot stand the touch of him, that she had kissed him on all those dates only because it had been necessary for the eventual robbery. But he does not care. Indeed, it is clearly implied that he is attracted to her precisely because she is a criminal, just as Hitch often said that in To Catch a Thief, Grace Kelly is attracted to Cary Grant because he is a thief, and that in The Lodger, the girl is attracted to the Lodger because she thinks he may be Jack the Ripper.

Connery now sees that Tippi is not a brunette but a blonde, and learns that her real name is Marnie. (Earlier, we have observed her continually lying to him and to others, and soon both Connery and she herself keep characterizing her persona as that of "a thief and a liar.") Now he forces her to marry him! Otherwise, he will turn her over to the police for a long prison term.

They take their honeymoon trip on a ship, where she is completely and absolutely frigid to his advances. Finally, frustrated, he strips and rapes her! She tries to drown herself in the ship's swimming pool, but Connery finds her and revives her.

He gets her to make a pact: as in Rebecca, they will pretend that they are happily married. He will be kind to her; she will be polite to him. There will be, therefore, as there is in Rebecca with Laurence Olivier and his first wife, a fraud of a marriage. They sleep in separate rooms, and Diane Baker, the Wicked Stepsister, soon comprehends the situation. She starts to snoop, eavesdrop, and listen in on phone conversations between Tippi and her (supposedly dead) mother.

When Tippi has one of her recurring nightmares, Connery comes into her room and starts playing psychoanalyst, getting her to free-associate. He had earlier, at the race track, asked if she had had a "tough childhood"; and when she answers, "Not particularly," he has replied, "I think you did."

In the novel on which the movie is based, there is indeed an analyst, to whom the husband sends her. But in the film, husband and analyst are combined into a single character. The film is, indeed, patterned after a typical psychoanalytic case history. Tippi, remarking about Connery's hoping that he will get her up on her "poor paralyzed legs," asks cynically: "You Freud, me Jane?" Finally, when he mentions the color red, she breaks down, sobs, and begs him to help her.

One of the highlights of the film is the grand Party Scene, the kind that Hitch was so fond of. Diane Baker has earlier overheard that Connery has "paid [Gabel] off," so she knows something is up, and secretly invites Gabel to attend the party, where Connery and Tippi are host and hostess.

Tippi wants to run off, but Connery makes her
brazen things out. And there is that grand scene where Gabel slowly but surely recognizes Tippi as the brunette who has robbed him, and says to her (he is marvelous here just as he was marvelous in that opening scene of the film): "I believe we have met before." When Tippi lies (as she continually lies throughout the movie), "I don't believe so," he replies pointedly: "Think again, Mrs. Rutland."

Afterwards, Connery again catches her ready to run off, dressed all in black, in a leotard-like outfit, and refers to her get-up as that of a "cat burglar," which is reminiscent of the earlier film To Catch a Thief, thereby reinforcing the parallelism between the two films, with one member of a couple falling in love with the other because the latter is a criminal.

Tippi participates in Connery's fox hunt, riding on her pet horse. The horse breaks his leg, and Tippi herself shoots him to put him out of his pain. Later, when she tries once more to rob the Connery safe, she finds she cannot bring herself to do so. Connery now forces her to come with him to Baltimore to see if her mother can explain Tippi's phobias, and why she became a thief.

Earlier, through the aid of a private detective, Connery has learned that Tippi's Bible-obsessed, men-hating mother had in fact (when Tippi was but a child of five) been a prostitute. She had been put on trial for the murder of one of her clients, though found not-guilty for reasons of self-defense, the man having broken her leg during the struggle. But now the mother tells Connery (and Tippi) that it was in fact the five-year-old Tippi herself who had killed the man, picking up an andiron and splitting the man's head open when he attacked her mother, who had gone to the child's aid to stop him from seemingly trying to rape her.

The mother swore that if the court would let her keep Tippi, she would bring up the child "decent." This she did, instilling in the girl (who had repressed the memory of that stormy night), a hostility towards men. The guilt-ridden mother, meanwhile, hid from the girl her great love for her under the guise of coldness. And the film ends with Connery giving the following clinical explanation to Tippi why she had developed a compulsion to steal: "When a child can't get love, it takes what it can get."

How did the reviewers feel about the film? They hated it (and kept hating it).

They hated the story. They hated the several awkward rear-projection process shots, even though there are, embarrassingly, similarly awkward shots in earlier Hitchcock films that they did not hate. They hated the psychoanalytic case history aspect, even though they had not hated Psycho, which is similarly an analytical case history. They hated Sean Connery, although Truffaut (for one) thought Connery "very good" in the film.

Above all, they hated Tippi Hedren. They thought she was a lousy actress. They thought, how unfortunate that Grace Kelly (whom Hitch had originally wanted for the part) could not have played the lead, for she would have been perfect for the role. One reviewer even thought Tippi wasn't at all good-looking and what could Hitch possibly have seen in her?

The New York Times called Marnie "the master's most disappointing film in years" (Archer). Sight and Sound labeled the film "one of Hitchcock's sham-Freud gambles in the field of audience gullibility" (Dyer). Newsweek said that the film was "nothing less than a disaster," and asked, bewilderingly, "What is the point of Martin Gabel?" ("Overcooked.") Time declared that if an unknown director turned out a suspense melodrama "as dreary and unconvincing as this," one would express the wish that Hitchcock might have directed it, And here, Hitchcock had directed it! Saturday Review pontificated about another of Hitch's "Psychology I primers" and how Hitch had, it seemed, "lingered too long in the neighborhood of the small screens" (Knight).

America said that the film was "hollow melodrama" and "hollower psychiatry" (Walsh). Films and Filming called it "certainly one of Hitchcock's least convincing works," in the class of his Jamaica Inn and Under Capricorn (Whitehall). The lady reviewer of Films in Review conferred with some of her gentlemen "acquaintances," one of whom said to her about Tippi, "I don't see what Hitchcock sees in her" (Wharton). And the Hitchcock enthusiast of The Village Voice called the film "a failure," reprinted the review in a collection years later, and, so far as I know, has not reversed his opinion to this day (Sarris).

It is my contention that these reviewers missed what Marnie was "really" about. And once one discovers what it is really about, and how it fits into the pattern of Hitch's film work as a whole, it becomes more interesting and even fascinating.

The truth about Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie is that its heroine/villainess is not just any kind of thief, but a call-girl thief, a prostitute, a whore - the traditional object of Jack the Ripper's affection (and of Hitch's) - and that Hitch was quite aware of all this. And from our Hitchcock and Homosexuality point of view, this heroine/villainess whore is not just any kind of whore, but a whore who is a Lesbian, one who hates men.

The first clue comes right at the start, from the demeanor and phraseology of Martin Gabel, the middle-class, well-to-do accountant who discovers (to his chagrin!) that he has been robbed! (Robbed, as we contend, not by just any kind of thief, but by a favorite call-girl of his.)

Right after uttering the word "Robbed!" he goes on to describe to the police (it is amusing for them and for us, the audience) the lady-thief's physical characteristics, including her dress size. We are to understand at once that he had been interested in the young woman sexually. That is why he had hired her without references (as his snotty, cynical secretary is good enough to remind him).

(Years later, in Frenzy, Hitch will have the snotty, cynical secretary at the brothel-like "marriage bureau" describe the physical characteristics of the supposed criminal-murderer, Jon Finch, in just the same way, remarking that in her "business" you get used to noticing such things.)

When Gabel finishes his tirade, he will apply to the Tippi of the film the expression, "the little Witch!," which stands, of course, for Hitch's favorite phrase for teasing-hookers - the little Bitch!

If there is still doubt as to what part of the lady-thief's physical characteristics we are to be concerned with in the film, we get a strictly visual clue as (at the word Witch) the camera cuts to Tippi's handbag (her purse). It is crumpled up and fills the screen in as clear a representation of a vagina-symbol as one could possibly expect outside of pure pornography. (Hitch had earlier made use of the sexual aspect of a woman's purse, in Suspicion, and has, I believe, so remarked upon that aspect.)

Tippi goes now to a hotel room, hotels being associated in Hitch's mind as places where prostitutes often live and conduct their business. As we must understand by now, Vertigo is a key reference point for noting parallels in Hitch's films to prostitutes. (Vertigo is, so to speak, even more perhaps than Strangers on a Train, the Hitchcock Touchstone film for locating men in storylines who become obsessed with prostitutes, and why they do so.) It is to her room at the Empire Hotel that Jimmy Stewart follows the Strawberry Blonde Kim Novak #2 (who, as we have seen, asks him, when he tells her that his first name is John, if she should call him "Jack.")

In Marnie, it is in the corridor of Tippi's hotel that our Alfred makes his cameo appearance.

From Freud and common experience we know that a woman's hair has sensual, sexual significance. The first grand highlight of the film is that of Tippi Hedren in her hotel room washing out the black dye from her hair, so that the first time we see her striking countenance, front-face on the screen, it is as a blonde.

Throughout the movie, Tippi lies, and lies, and lies. Hitch associates prostitutes with lying, just as he associates prostitutes (or women of easy virtue) with jewelry; and much is made in the film of the six-and-a-half carat, $42,000 ring that Connery buys Tippi for a wedding present. (Compare, again, in Vertigo, Kim Novak's continual lying throughout the film to Jimmy Stewart, and the way the storyline becomes unknotted through his recognizing the jeweled locket that the earlier Kim had worn.)

Indeed, the money motif in Marnie - the taking of money by a woman from a series of men - is in itself a clue ineluctably pointing to a John/Whore relationship. For what Johns do is give money; what Whores do is take money.

Then, too, there is the "blackmail" clue. Hitch (rightly) associates blackmail with illicit sex. When Connery gets the $42,000 for the wedding ring, he specifies "small bills" because, as Hitch is constrained to make him say (jokingly), he is "being blackmailed, and they specified small bills."

Indeed, Connery really blackmails the unwilling Tippi to marry him (lest he turn her over to the police). I have not made this up. For in one conversation with Tippi (trying to convince her that sooner or later she would be caught and at the mercy of her captor), Connery says to her that sooner or later "some other sexual blackmailer would have gotten his hands" on her.

Unlike the insensitive, catty, or simply misguided reviewers of this film, Truffaut sensed what the film was about, knew that there was some source of hidden sexual energy contained in its make-up, and, consequently, liked the movie, or, at least, liked various things about it and considered the film a real Hitch movie. Discussing with Hitch the sexual aspect of the film (for it is on the sexual aspect that, to his great credit, he centers the discussion), Truffaut says, "Sean Connery has a sort of animal-like quality that fits in perfectly with the sex angle of the story. Yet neither the script nor the dialogue ever really touches on this angle, and Mark Rutland is presented to the viewer simply as a protective-character. Only by watching his face very closely can one sense your intention to lead the script into a less conventional direction" (italics added).

Think how the many following pieces of dialogue fit so well the situation of Tippi's being a prostitute (and a Lesbian):

In an early conversation with her mother (where the suggestion has been made that Tippi may have been taking money from her "employer" for sexual favors), Tippi says, "When I think of the things I've done!"

After Connery has discovered the truth about her, after the burglary of his own firm, after - as he puts it to her - "we have established that you are a liar and a thief," he asks her if she has had any men before him. She answers, "No lovers, no steadies, no beaus, no gentleman callers - nothing."

And when he expresses his disbelief that no men had ever been interested in her, she replies: "I didn't say that they weren't interested in me. I wasn't interested in them."

In our explication of The Birds, we suggested that the Tippi Hedren of that film is, in Hitch's conception, a call-girl, to whom in an off-the-cuff remark he refers as a "fly-by-night," Cockney slang for a prostitute. In that film Rod Taylor is a criminal lawyer who has come across Tippi in court, and once, on parting, he says to her (very amusingly in light of our interpretation of the essence of that film): "See you in court." Now, in Marnie, Sean Connery, the "John" who falls heels over head in love with a prostitute he has slept with, asks our "new" Tippi that common John-question, "Have you ever been in jail?"

In view of (a) Hitch's penchant for making his heroes detectives or detective-surrogates, and (b) Sean Connery's famous cop-persona of the time, his James Bond character, we can think of him in Marnie as a sort of vice cop, who falls in love with one of his prostitute-busts. And when, notwithstanding his new knowledge, he proposes not simply to maintain their relationship, but to marry the young woman, she reacts as any prostitute might react, and especially a prostitute who was herself, sexually, a Lesbian. She says to him, "You know what I am. I am not like other people. You know what I am!"

"You know what I am," she says to him, "a thief and a liar," meaning, as I suggest, "You know what I am, a prostitute and a liar." He answers, "Well, it's been my mistake to fall in love with a [prostitute] and a liar." "I am not like other people," she says, and repeats,"You know what I am." And he replies, "Whatever you are, I love you." She answers, "It's horrible." And he replies, "I know."

Later, during the honeymoon sequence, Hitch will apply his characteristic epithet to this sort of situation: "degrading." He will have not Connery but Tippi say the word, applying it to her role in the affair. But, as we have seen, and as Freud likes to tell us, in the unconscious the "hare" often chases the "hunter," and the degradation expression really characterizes Connery's role here.

As I like to maintain, from Vertigo alone, once we have gleaned the Truth of that film in connection with those two famous papers of Freud's - the one on male impotence, and the other on the "type" of woman that some men must have to overcome that impotence (and to whom they are ever after enslaved) - it is evident that Marnie is simply another version of this singularly favorite theme of Hitch's.

In short, Vertigo is the key to Marnie. So, sure enough, when Connery asks Tippi why she should have chosen him to sleep with, to lie to, and to rob, he uses the identical expression that Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo uses with Kim Novak: "Why me?" The answer must be, of course, that Tippi slept with, lied to, and robbed him (Connery) for no special exceptional reason. She has done these to all her other rich Johns, as Martin Gabel could tell him, and in fact did so tell him! (In Vertigo the answer that Kim gives Jimmy is the matter-of-fact prostitute answer, "For the money.")

Also, as we have learned from that second paper of Freud's, and as was demonstrated in Vertigo, the neurotic whose "type" of woman is a prostitute has a compulsion to "rescue" her, and especially to rescue her from death-by-water. We saw how Jimmy Stewart "rescued" Kim Novak from her supposed drowning in San Francisco Bay. Here, in Marnie, we see Sean Connery rescue the near-drowned Tippi from the ship's swimming pool on their "honeymoon" trip.

Sure enough too, in this sequence Hitch has Tippi's body floating in the water, face down, exactly the way he has the body of the prostitute-victim of the Jack the Ripper killer in Frenzy float face down in the Thames, in the opening sequence of that film.

Vertigo is the key to Marnie. For Marnie is about a man with a fetish, just as Vertigo is about a man with a fetish, a fetish being that which a man must have present in a sexual relationship in order to bring on an erection and (hopefully) a climax. What Jimmy Stewart in Vertigo must have present in a woman to have sexual fulfillment with her is for her to be a prostitute. When Truffaut asks Hitch what had "appealed" to him about the Marnie story, not only does Hitch answer, "The fetish idea. A man wants to go to bed with a thief because she is a thief, just like other men have a yen for a Chinese or a colored woman." But he immediately connects this with Jimmy Stewart's feeling for Kim Novak in Vertigo, which he characterizes as "clearly a fetishist love." The very theme of the Prince and the Beggar Girl, that favored theme of Hitch's, is, in his own mind, simply a special case of this fetishism.

This becomes clear from that little conversation between Hitch and Truffaut in connection with Marnie. Hitch says to Truffaut, "If you want to reduce Marnie to its lowest denominator, it is the story of the prince and the beggar girl." When Truffaut responds, "Someone like Laurence Olivier in Rebecca?" Hitch at once replies, "Exactly. That's the way you heighten the fetishist concept."

Once we have accepted the contention that Hitchcock, throughout his films, from The Lodger (1926) through Frenzy (1970), is obsessed with the relationship between Jack the Ripper and the objects of Jack the Ripper's affection - prostitutes - element after element in his films fall naturally into place.

Within this context, once we accept the notion that Hitch intends the Tippi Hedren of Marnie to be not just any kind of thief, but a prostitute-thief (just as he intends the Tippi Hedren of The Birds to be a prostitute, a "fly-by-night"), we can clearly understand his answer to Truffaut's pointed (though almost naive) question: "Why is Marnie's hero so attracted to the girl? Is it simply that he finds it exciting to go to bed with a thief?" Hitch's answer is: "Absolutely," For if, in Truffaut's questions, we read "prostitute" for "thief," we can clearly understand that for Hitch this can be the only answer possible.

In the same way (for questions about Jack the Ripper's relationship to prostitutes are, in Hitch's mind, equivalent to the prostitutes' relationship to Jack the Ripper), when Charles Samuels asks Hitch, "Why do you make the young girl in The Lodger so sexually aggressive toward the lodger?" he answers, "She's goaded by the idea that he might be Jack the Ripper."

In the film, once Connery has blackmailed Tippi into marrying him, he finds on that disastrous honeymoon trip (to his absolute chagrin and puzzlement) that she is frigid with him. She cannot stand the touch of him. And in the rape scene, Hitchcock has her blank stare fill the screen as Connery makes love to her.

In the scene where Connery plays psychoanalyst and forces Tippi to free-associate, she taunts him by saying, "You have a pathological fix on a woman who is not only an admitted criminal but who screams if you come near her." And earlier, when he has been discussing marriage with her (even though he knows what she is), she tells him straight out that she cannot bear to be handled by men.

These interchanges are key scenes in the film, and taken together they function in two ways: (1) they make clear - or should - that we are to understand that Tippi is not just any kind of a thief but a prostitute-thief, and (2) they make clear - or should - that Tippi is a Lesbian.

From the aspect of Function#1, we have a man who has become obsessed with a particular prostitute with whom he has gone to bed many times, and with whom he has attained sexual ecstasy as with no other woman. That is why he wants to marry her, why he must have her and her alone.

From the aspect of Function#2, we have a man who has become obsessed not only with a prostitute, but with one who is also a Lesbian, who cannot (except in the course of her trade) stand to be touched my men, and who (conforming to the standard Hitchcock and Homosexuality convention) hates men. From this aspect, the key to Marnie is not Vertigo but, rather, The Paradine Case.

In that film we have the upper-class Gregory Peck - the Prince - in the degrading position of being in love not only with a prostitute - the Beggar Girl - who will not let him touch her, but with a prostitute who is passionately in love with a homosexual (who cannot stand to be touched by her). In Marnie we have the upper-class Sean Connery - the Prince - in the degrading position of being in love not only with a prostitute - the Beggar Girl - but a prostitute who is herself a homosexual, a Lesbian, who cannot stand to be touched by him.

Real-life Lesbians must find uproarious that bedroom scene in Marnie where Tippi tells Connery, her blackmailer-husband and would-be lover, that she cannot stand the touch of him - or of any man - and he replies that she should see a therapist or at least read some therapeutic book about her unfortunate "condition." Even funnier (from a real-life Lesbian's point of view) is when he tells her he wants to "help" her, and she answers that there is "nothing the matter"with her. She just does not care to make love with men! She holds him in disdain, as she holds all men in disdain, and says to him (from a Lesbian's point of view this is the funniest line of all): "You say no to one of them, and bingo - you're a candidate for the funny farm."

He still does not understand. He says they ought to get some rest, and "talk about it tomorrow." She replies, "There's nothing to talk about. I told you how I feel. I'll feel that way tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that." What, pray, could be clearer?

The party sequences in Hitch's films, which recur throughout his work, are always grand; and the party sequence in Marnie is no exception. There is that absolutely marvelous scene where Martin Gabel (whose "Robbed! And that girl did it - the little Witch!" began the movie), on being introduced at the party to Tippi, suddenly realizes that his sometime call-girl, who then robbed him, is now the wife of the wealthy Sean Connery.

Gabel, who at the start of the film - amusingly for us and the police, though not for himself - has described in detail Tippi's body, including her dress size, now says to Tippi, slowly and determinedly: "I believe we've met before." When Tippi tries to brazen things out with "I don't believe so," Gabel gives her a straight look and replies, "Think again, Mrs. Rutland."

Studies of real-life prostitutes show that often (like Tippi in Marnie) they are the daughters of prostitutes, and also that many prostitutes have two signal fears:

(1) The "reformed" prostitute, who has left the "life" - who has gone straight (or square), and has married - is often in dread that she will go to some social function and be chanced upon by one of her former Johns; and (2) a working prostitute, especially one in a brothel, is often in dread that during an evening the John who comes into her room will be her father.

As we have seen, and shall see in more detail when discussing Psycho and I Confess, the Father/Daughter theme in Hitchcock, especially in connection with his unconscious and pre-conscious fantasies relating to his daughter, Pat, is very prominent in his films. Indeed, the angry bedroom scene in Marnie is over-determined. A girl has a secret nightmare (as we shall learn later, it is about being raped); and the head-of-the-house (whom she calls Daddy-dear) comes into her bedroom to see what is the matter, to comfort her, just as earlier he has kissed and comforted her when she was frightened by a thunderstorm.

Finally, as is well-known, real-life prostitutes are often thieves, who use their trade to gain entrance to their victim's establishment, and then rob him. That Tippi is meant to be not just any kind of a thief, but a prostitute-thief, and that old Hitch's mind runs along precisely such channels, is confirmed in many of his films (and interviews).

Referring off-handedly to the heroine of The Birds (portrayed by the same Tippi Hedren), he calls her a "fly-by-night," Cockney slang for a prostitute.

In The 39 Steps the attractive brunette "spy" accosts Robert Donat on the street at night, and invites herself up to his flat. When he asks her, "What do you do for a living ... actress?" she replies, "Not exactly." And when he asks her for what "country" she works, she answers, "Any country that pays me."

And in Saboteur, Priscilla Lane works as a "model," the same "profession" the girl in The Lodger works at, she to whom the "hero" of the film, Jack the Ripper, is attracted. Priscilla's uncle tells Robert Cummings that he has "never been too enthusiastic over" her career. And when we see her photo displayed on a roadside billboard, the headline reads, "She'll never let you down."

But why go on? Given the context of Hitchcock's films, with his "interest" in the Jack the Ripper theme (from The Lodger through Frenzy, a time-span of nearly fifty years), the Marnie sequence at the race-track can be interpreted in only one way. This sequence, where the Tippi Hedren character is accosted by the little man in the porkpie hat, who insists that he has met her before, can only be interpreted as a prostitute unexpectedly meeting a former John.

This sequence is the parallel of, the Double to, the sequence towards the end of the film where Tippi (now the wife of Sean Connery) unexpectedly meets Martin Gabel, who insists that he has "met" Tippi before. In my interpretation, that scene too is quite clearly one of a former John of Tippi's meeting her unexpectedly. That that scene where Gabel experiences the shock of recognition is so splendidly executed (like the one with the little man) lends confirmation, I believe, that the interpretation is correct.

Yet the scene with Gabel could conceivably be viewed as one between a man who had simply been "robbed" by one of his office clerks whom he now meets at a social function, and not as one between a man and a call-girl favorite (though surely the dramatic tension of the scene would be far less). The scene with the little man in the porkpie hat, however, can be interpreted only my way. The man's demeanor and diction, his dialogue with Tippi, can indicate only that he is talking to someone he once met at some hooker-party, and whom he had paid to go to bed with him.

When listing various dream characteristics, we noted one called Displacement, where some especially important element in a dream is disguised by making it appear as though it were an especially unimportant element. Such is the case with this scene at the racetrack, where Tippi meets the little man who says he knows her, and she says he does not.

The scene is splendidly, marvelously done. It is fun to watch, and seems to bear more significance than it indicates; yet one cannot seem to put one's finger on just why this is so.
At any rate, the actor is Milton Selzer; and he is absolutely marvelous in his role. When you get a chance to see the film again, just look at Selzer's facial expression when he chances upon Tippi. He is delighted! He cannot believe his good luck.

Now, why should he be delighted just at meeting again a young woman who had stolen some money from his old office? In my reading, his delight is quite easily explained. He is delighted because he had earlier had such a good time with the attractive Tippi, when he had paid to go to bed with her. And he thinks now he may have the chance to go to bed with her a second time (and a third, and a fourth, and so on)! He tells her that Frank Abernathy had introduced them back in Detroit, and when Tippi does not respond, he says to her with a smirk, "You remember Frank!" When she still feigns not to remember, he says to her, "Oh, come on, honey, you're trying to pull my leg." (At which remark, James Bond Connery returns and, towering over Selzer, convinces him that he should be off.)

As we have seen, Truffaut remarked to Hitchcock that the expression on Sean Connery's face in the film was a clue to the film's "sex angle." Can we not apply Truffaut's very words to Milton Selzer, and say to old Hitch, "Only by watching his face closely can one sense your intention to lead the script into a less conventional direction?"


In 1920, Karl Abraham, one of Freud's closest disciples, wrote a famous and influential analytic paper, "Manifestations of the Female Castration Complex," which included statements about prostitutes and their frigidity. (The paper was first published in English around 1922 and has been reprinted, in English, in many collections.)

Abraham maintains that "frigidity is practically a sine qua non of prostitution. Just as Don Juan avenges himself on all women for the disappointment he once received from the first woman who entered his life, so the prostitute avenges herself on every man for the gift she had expected from her father and had not received" (Abraham, Selected Papers. New York: Basic Books, 1968).

The Abraham paper reads like a gloss on Marnie. It is also illustrative of Hitchcock's film work in general and of his Jack the Ripper films in particular, and throws much light on the various versions of misogyny among Hitch's hero/villains and explains just why they often hate women enough to kill them.

Hitchcock was a classic case of the obsessive neurotic, and Abraham often points out that obsessive neurotics are classically anal neurotics and that the anal stage of early psychic development is classically sadistic. From a significantly large number of cases, Abraham concludes that when the little neurotic grows up, he not only becomes obsessed with order and symbols of order but with sadism and symbols of sadism.

In other papers Abraham remarks upon, and concurs with, Freud's elaborate theory of paranoia, where a man feels he is being pursued by some hated individual, though he is innocent of any crime because in his unconscious he really has a homosexual attraction to the (supposedly) hated individual. Consciously ashamed of the attraction, he hides that homosexual love by disguising it as hatred and claiming to be persecuted.

It is Abraham who says of that favorite room of Hitch's in his movies, the bathroom, "This place is the most frequent scene of children's secret and forbidden acts" (Abraham's Paper#8).

It is Abraham too who discusses scopofilia, "pleasure in looking," and talks about "the scopofilic instinct - the instinct for looking - and its erotogenic zone: the eye." Not only, then, do we get the psycho-analytic reason for all those "Peeping Tom" scenes in Hitchcock (e.g., Rear Window and Psycho), but we get to understand the real (unconscious) reason for Hitch's continual reason (as he claims) for "never looking through the camera."

All this is rather prologue to Abraham's paper on the Female Castration Complex. Let us go now to that paper and try to show (a) how it paints a picture of just the type of woman that Hitch's hero/villains throughout his films hate so murderously and so often try to revenge themselves upon, and (b) how it paints a picture of just the type of prostitute-thief he portrays in the Tippi Hedren character in Marnie, the prostitute-thief Superbitch.

There is an aspect of Abraham's paper that relates directly to Marnie, in both concept and phraseology, which makes me suspect that Hitch came across the paper, famous as it is, and had it directly in mind (or somewhere in his pre-conscious) when he was making this film. It has to do with the symbolism in the woman's mind of robbery. In her mind, castration is symbolized as robbery! She has been castrated (robbed of her phallus); now she will set out to rob (castrate) her would-be lover in turn.

The (unconscious) notion of Robbery-as-Castration comes up right at the start of Abraham's famous paper, and it is indeed on the basis of this notion that he gives this female complex the name of Castration: "We find therefore in the female sex not only the tendency to represent a painfully perceived and primary defect as ... 'having been robbed' but also active and passive fantasies of mutilation alongside each other, just as in the male castration complex. These facts justify us in using the same designation in both sexes" (italics added). She wishes to rob the man, "to deprive him of what he possesses."

"Robbed!" cries out Martin Gabel, in the opening shot of Marnie, which sets the stage so brilliantly for the story of the film. For what is the story of the film but how the Tippi Hedren character robs a series of men?

Abraham's contention is now a traditionally accepted notion among orthodox psychoanalysts: that robbery - stealing - is a form of sexual symbolism. In his On the Nightmare, Ernest Jones writes: "Stealing in mythology, as in unconscious fantasy in general, signifies an injury, a deprivation or even mutilation, and is ultimately a symbol for castration." "To steal money," he continues, "is to perform a pederastic assault - money = feces - with a castrating motive, hence the neurotic dread of being cheated or having even small sums stolen."

Abraham goes on to explain kleptomania in a way that comes close to matching, almost to a T, the explanation that Sean Connery gives at the end of the film, summing up the reason for Marnie's robbery-kleptomania.

Here is how Abraham puts it: "So-called kleptomania is often traceable to the fact that a child feels injured or neglected in respect to proofs of love. ... It procures a substitute pleasure for the lost pleasure, and at the same time takes revenge on those who have caused it the supposed injustice." And here is how Connery puts it (explaining Tippi's compulsion to steal): "When a child can't get love, it takes what it can get."

One of the key elements in Hitchcock's film is the frigidity that Tippi exhibits to her husband, Connery. Indeed, the "rape" scene on that honeymoon boat trip is perhaps the most striking scene in the film. This frigidity theme is as central to Marnie as is the robbery theme. And Abraham's remarks on frigidity are as central to his paper as the frigidity element is in the storyline of Hitch's film.

Finally, Abraham points out the connection of frigidity to prostitution, as well as to its psychic raison d'être for practitioners of that venerable profession: "Her frigidity signifies a humiliation of all men and therefore a mass castration to her unconscious; and her whole life is given up to its purpose."

Abraham's characterization of the Eternal Prostitute, manifesting the Revenge Type of the female Castration Complex, is the picture we get in Hitchcock's films (but especially in The Birds and Marnie) of the Superbitch-prostitute. And such is the traditional object of the "affection" of that recurrent hero/villain of Hitch's films, Jack the Ripper, Killer of Prostitutes.

Abraham goes on to point out that this men-hating, Revenge Type female tends to transfer her hatred and revenge-seeking on to her daughters. Not only do prostitutes often end up having daughters who become prostitutes, but Revenge Type mothers in general tend to transfer their obsessive hatred of men on to their daughters in general.

And, lo!, in Marnie Hitch has Tippi's mother, the prostitute Louise Latham, say to her daughter that she is "too smart to get mixed up with men." And he has the daughter say to the mother, "We don't need men, Momma. We can do very well for ourselves."

But, Abraham continues, "These women also produce a serious effect on their sons without foreseeing the result of their attitude." The "result" of their attitude, he says, is that the son often ends up with homosexual tendencies, often ends up a misogynist - a woman hater!

Think now, if some gentleman caller of a psyche bordering upon any or all of the above, comes to the flat of some prostitute (or even of just some woman of easy virtue), who likes to tease and disappoint men, who has an unconscious urge to rob them of their manhood, to castrate them - into what a frenzy may that caller be likely to fall! May one not say, therefore, as all evidence seems ineluctably to indicate, that the quintessential encounter in a Hitchcock film, the key theme among all Hitch's recurrent themes, the so-to-speak Primal Scene throughout his films, is when Jack the Ripper meets Superbitch?

Frenzy is Hitchcock's obverse of Marnie. Just as Marnie is about Hitch's Eternal Prostitute, so is Frenzy about Hitch's Eternal Jack the Ripper. Let us look, therefore, at Frenzy to see what light it can throw upon Marnie.

Frenzy is (as I feel) Hitchcock's most serious film, surely his most critically underrated work (even though most commentators and audiences "like" the film), his most pessimistic film (from the viewpoint of the human condition), and his one great tragic film. In the opening sequence, we see old Hitch, in bowler hat, at his dourest, in his cameo appearance, observing first some silly fool prating optimistically about a coming Brave New World, and of a Thames that will mirror in cleanliness a new morality, then (along with the fool) observing the discovery of the corpse of a nude, strangled young woman, floating face down in the water, as someone cries out, "Another necktie murder!

It is, in my view, no accident that it is this film of Hitch's that is All About Jack the Ripper; that Jack the Ripper is actually named and discussed in the film; that it is also All About London, Hitch's mother city; that the Jack the Ripper villain in the film is a greengrocer (like Hitch's dead Dad); and that the greengrocering mise-en-scène of the film is especially prominent. (The mise-en-scène, as Hitch has Barry Foster tell us, is not the Garden of Eden but Covent Garden.)

In Frenzy, Hitchcock's vision of the world is that everyone is doomed: man and womankind, each and every one. Everyone, in one way or another, is fallen from grace, irredeemably (beyond redemption). It is not the Lord who has been victorious, but Satan. Paradise has indeed been lost, but never to be regained.

London is a waste land, and London is the world. London is the world, and the world is a brothel. The city teems with dead souls. And, as in Eliot's poem, we see prominently, right at the start, London Bridge, across the Thames, where we are soon to catch sight of that new murder victim, discovered by the gaping crowd (Hitch among them): the body of a drowned prostitute.

After the film's startling and dramatic "climax" (Hitch's Jack the Ripper raping, then strangling to death "his type of woman," the brothel-madam surrogate, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, who, as she is being stripped and raped, recites in vain a Biblical psalm), the camera zooms back, slowly but relentlessly, first from the hall stairway outside the scene of the crime, then from the street outside, then further back to display the London section of Covent Garden (Eden after the fall), with all its doomed indwellers.

And, according to the Grand Design of this Jack the Ripper of Hitch's, who is to blame? Why, women! All of them. Without exception. All the same: Bitches!

All of Hitch's previous Jack the Ripper surrogates have, more or less, thought so. Compare, for example, Cary Grant's attitude towards Ingrid Bergman in Notorious. Compare too,of course, what Joseph Cotten tells us of rich widows, in Shadow of a Doubt, Hitch's "favorite" film, as he so often noted.

But here, in Frenzy, Barry Foster, who can reasonably claim to be Hitch's Jack the Ripper of record, here in this film where Jack the Ripper is discussed by name, does not just think so or imply so. He actually says so!

The women in this great and representative film of Hitchcock's are all, in one way or another, as if they were right out of that Karl Abraham essay on the female castration complex, or out of that essay of Freud's on the "type" of woman that some men, to their sorrow and future rage, must have as their lovemate. These women who are all in some way or another men-devouring, men-competing-with, men-despising, or men-hating. Whether they are frigid with their lovers (or would-be lovers) or sexually devouring of them, these extremes are, as we learn from dream interpretation, equivalents.

In some way or another all the women are of easy virtue (or their extreme opposite); or they are prostitutes. The Marriage Bureau of the film is a Hitchcock euphemism, a "joke," for a brothel.

Think now, Hitch indicates to us, we have a whorehouse (a) where the girls are alternately frigid, or else they love you to death; (b) where the girls are Lesbians and hate men; or (c) where if you go to them for some poor fetish of yours, they tell you that at this brothel they do not do such things! Indeed, do we have Marriage, or Lovemaking, as Hell?

And who is the "client," now, who comes to such a brothel? Why, it is Jack the Ripper! For that is What Happens in Frenzy. It is the story of what happens when such a client comes to such a brothel!

Such is old Hitch's "joke" of the film, his conclusion after fifty years of movie-making and of exploring marriage cycles and love-making.

In Frenzy all the men are damned, all are lost souls. All are monsters or monsters in the making, monsters-to-be. And who made them so? Who made them monsters - in the past, in the present, and who will continue to make them so in the future, unless they be prevented by some Othello, obsessed with a special "cause"?

According to the peculiar logic of Hitch's demonology, the answer can only be: Women! The bitches. The virgins and the whores. The Desdemonas innocent, and the Desdemonas guilty. The women who will tease you but not go to bed with anyone, including you, or the women who will tease you and go to bed with everyone, except you. Or if they do choose to go to bed with you, you are a homosexual and you can't make love to them. (You may even get dizzy, and faint.) And, as Abraham tells us, that is one of the reasons why they unconsciously chose you as their "lover" in the first place.

So, virgin or whore, Mary or Magdalene, in a Hitchcock film the parallel lines (or tracks) of their psycho-sexual relationship with Hitch's representative hero/villain, his John or Jack the Ripper, his Othello-surrogate, meet in their destruction.

Such, finally, is that Eternal Victim of Hitch's movies: that woman constructed out of bits and pieces according to the blueprints of those two essays of Freud's and the one of Abraham's, like some Bride of Frankenstein; Barry Foster's "type" of woman (it is she he wants); the teleological object of Jack the Ripper's affections; the Superbitch Prostitute!