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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

MY first re­ac­tion to Marnie (Sun­day, 11.55pm, ABC1), shared by many oth­ers at time, was one of mild dis­ap­point­ment — all those crude stu­dio back­drops, the bla­tant melo­drama, the

at­mo­spheric’’ thun­der­storms at dra­matic mo­ments, the rear-screen pro­jec­tions. Af­ter the chill­ing vir­tu­os­ity of Psy­cho and The Birds, Marnie felt like in­fe­rior Hitch­cock. But, like Ver­tigo, its rep­u­ta­tion has im­proved with time and it can now be seen as one of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s most lib­er­ated and po­etic films, a mas­ter­piece that en­com­passes all the di­rec­tor’s ob­ses­sions — the un­leash­ing of re­pressed fe­male sex­u­al­ity, child­hood trauma and Hitch’s love of cool-look­ing blondes. Tippi He­dren plays a klep­to­ma­niac whose com­pul­sion to steal springs from a need for love. This is even­tu­ally sup­plied by Sean Con­nery, a busi­ness as­so­ciate of one of Marnie’s pre­vi­ous vic­tims. A pro­foundly dis­qui­et­ing thriller, Marnie is re­plete with great set-pieces and Hitch­cock is said to have be­come ob­sessed with He­dren dur­ing the shoot­ing. In some ways it shows in the power and an­guish of her per­for­mance.

Per­sona (Sun­day, 10.30pm, SBS Two) could al­most be de­scribed as Ing­mar Bergman’s Marnie. It was made two years later (in 1966) and is Bergman’s clas­sic ex­plo­ration of fe­male psy­chosis. Liv Ull­mann plays an ac­tress who mys­te­ri­ously stops speak­ing af­ter a per­for­mance of Elec­tra and is sent by a psy­chi­a­trist to a sea­side cottage where she is looked af­ter by a nurse (Bibi An­der­s­son).

The two women, each with a trauma of her own, are drawn closer to­gether un­til, near the end of the film, their faces merge in one of the iconic im­ages of mod­ern cinema. Ull­mann, like He­dren, gives an un­for­get­table por­trayal of a tor­mented soul.

And on the sub­ject of great fe­male act­ing, it’s worth see­ing The Lion in Win­ter ( Fri­day, 12.30pm, ABC1) for Katharine Hep­burn’s per­for­mance alone. This is one of the best of all his­tor­i­cal dra­mas, an in­tel­li­gent adaptation of James Gold­man’s play about Henry II (Peter O’Toole), who sum­mons his po­lit­i­cally am­bi­tious fam­ily to a re­union in 1183 at which there is much jock­ey­ing among his three sons for the spoils of em­pire.

Hep­burn is su­perb as Henry’s wife, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he has kept in a re­mote cas­tle to pre­vent her med­dling in af­fairs of state. There are spell­bind­ing ver­bal du­els be­tween Hep­burn and O’Toole (barely recog­nis­able un­der a heavy beard and makeup), and the king’s three sons in­clude a youth­ful­look­ing An­thony Hop­kins as Prince Richard the Lion­heart. The film was shot on lo­ca­tion in Ire­land, Wales and France, and was a box-of­fice hit. Hep­burn won her third Os­car for her per­for­mance, be­com­ing the first ac­tress in his­tory to do so.

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 11.55pm, ABC1

(PG) ★★★★✩ Fri­day, 12.30pm, ABC1

(PG) ★★★★ Sun­day, 10.30pm, SBS Two

The Lion in Win­ter

Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hep­burn in

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