Where once he was free to take on just about any project that appealed to his sensibilities, now each new film had to be an event, different from what went before and with some new gimmick or sensation to justify his involvement. As a result, the films become strange mixtures of hubris and uncertainty, replacing the uncomplicated confidence of his best work with a painful self-consciousness and straining for significance that the material is increasingly unable to justify or sustain.
This naive and untypically overlong melodrama, sold as a daring and sophisticated psychosexual thriller, labours under the triple imposition of his most hokey plot since Spellbound, a massively artificial production, and Sean Connery, the latest in a series of miscast leads that would prove a problem for the rest of Hitchcock's career. Tippi Hedren is elegant and watchable in a basically unplayable role, but the big revelations, when they finally come, are risible in the extreme.
Ironically, Vertigo, which had left critics and audiences equally perplexed just six years earlier, would have gone down a storm at this point: instead he offered a cranky imitation of that overrated but vastly superior film, stuffed with Freudian cotton wool. Nonetheless, and I suppose unsurprisingly given its preoccupations, a revisionist cult has grown around the film. Robin Wood has claimed that if you don't love Marnie you don't love cinema, in which case I am happy to accept that I don't love cinema.