What A Mouth On That ‘Tippi’ Hedren in "Marnie"

Those are not little comets orbiting Miss Hedren’s head. Read on.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) tends to divide Hitchcock fans – some love it, some loathe it. I recently watched Marnie again and one thing’s for sure – love it or hate it, it hasn’t changed much over the past few decades. For those who find it the most personal film Hitchcock ever made, as I do, and can bear repeated exposure to the southern deep fried performances of Marnie’s mother and the child for whom she babysits, as I barely can, the movie does somehow become more fascinating with each viewing, however.

Not for nothing, but who’s the villain in this film?

The only completely likable character is played by sunny Mariette Hartley, who ironically suffered a real-life childhood not entirely unlike that of the fictional Marnie Edgar, a story Ms. Hartley would not share with the public until quite a few years later.

Sean Connery’s interest in, indulgence of, and desire to wed the most frigid Hitchcock blonde of all time is as bizarre as it is unexplained.

So are the single quotation marks around ‘Tippi’ in ‘Tippi’ Hedren.

Usually, quotation marks denote a nickname when the real name also appears, i.e., Eddie “Rochester” Anderson. The quoted nickname often indicates a fictional character with whom the actor is closely associated. That’s how you wind up with Bob “Maynard” Denver, Bob “Gilligan” Denver, and, over at Wikipedia, Robert Osbourne “Bob” Denver.

So… to be entirely correct… one would have to write Robert Osbourne “Bob” “Gilligan” Denver.

Awkward and clumsy, as would be Nathalie ‘Tippi’ Hedren. When you drop the Nathalie, you can drop the quotes, too. But somebody – Hitchcock, Universal, Nathalie herself – asked that the at least a set of single quotation marks stay.

Whatever flaws there may be in Marnie, the film stands as a punctuational and linguistic watershed.

1. So far as can be determined, ‘Tippi’ Hedren is the first actress in the history of film to say “Bite me.”

2. At one point, Diane Baker calls Sean Connery a “ratfink,” something Connery has never been called in a film since.

3.Marnie (‘Tippi’ Hedren) telephones her mother, and when her mother answers, it sounds for all the world as if Marnie says, “Yo momma.”

4. When Connery states that a marriage license signed “Minnie Q. Mouse” would still be considered legal, Hedren responds, “I’m Minnie Q. Thief.”

Hedren’s performances in Marnie and The Birds have earned her a place in movie history; I doubt if any actress ever came as close to the embodiment of the perfect Hitchcock heroine. The story goes that Hitchcock cast Hedren because he happened to see a shampoo commercial she made. Interesting that we do not see Hedren’s face in Marnie until a vigorous shampoo turns her into a blonde. Or would that be “blonde”?

Never mind. Just be sure, when you say her name, that you add the always-charming “air quotation marks” by bending fingers of both hands as you say ‘Tippi.’ Oh, and be sure to use only one finger on each hand when you do.

  • Share/Bookmark

Comments are closed.