Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1998.3.H58 P66 2004
According to Pomerance, popular film plots in the 1960s were obsessed with rationalizing idealized heterosexual unions. But Hitchcock turned the romance genre on its head. As Mark and Marnie walk away from Mrs. Edgar’s home at the film’s end, we understand that this is not an ending where the couple lives “happily ever after.” Instead it seems that Marnie is the girl for Mark because he will never quite succeed in taming her. The war he will have to fight against this rebellious woman, in the bathroom, the boardroom, and the boudoir, will never altogether be won. Marnie says, “I don’t want to go to jail. I’d rather stay with you.” And now, Mark replies, “Had you, love?” making any attentive member of Hitchcock’s audience sit up; “For the romantic viewer convinced her marriage will now bring an eternity of daylight, Marnie’s “I’d rather” is a clear contraction of “I would rather.” But Mark has a grammatical fluency that stumps the viewer. His response is a clue that she meant—or that he interpreted her to mean “I’d” that is past tense. Not “I would rather tomorrow and eternally; but “I had rather,” meaning in the past. He says, “Had you, love?” She is saying bluntly that previously it had been her desire to remain with him but now desire is not her primary motivation. The pure romance of that earlier attraction, Mark knows, has been diminished by the fact, now very evident, that he is the one who will keep her out of jail—that for Marnie he represents only the better of two alternatives, the other being an unthinkable option. Mark, and the viewer, must wonder, does she truly desire to go anywhere with him?”
The ambiguous ending of Hitchcock’s Marnie raises the ultimate question: if jail were not one of the looming possibilities, would Marnie be wanting to stay at Mark’s side? Is a life with Mark simply the lesser of two evils or is her desire to “stay” with him something of genuine love. The marriage between Mark and Marnie is anything but romantic, with a relationship that can be seen as that of doctor and patient rather than husband and wife and a relationship between two people that do not necessarily trust one another. Hitchcock makes it unclear whether Mark has actually cured Marnie—is he the only male with whom she can feel comfortable, or has he simply been deceived by Marnie in falling for her disguised “need” as love?