You know, it seems like every other movie in the Legends Of Horror box set is an early Hitchcock movie. Considering his film career, you could probably easily make a 50 movie box set of his movies alone. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying watching all of these old movies but I wish there was a little more variety in the set. But enough complaining, let’s get on with today’s movie, The Manxman.
The plot: In a small island fishing village, Pete Quilliam is a poor fisherman while his childhood friend Philip Christian is a up and coming lawyer. Whenever the fishermen come across legal troubles, Philip is always willing to help due to his friendship with Pete. The two head to the local tavern, where they are both interested in Kate Creegan, the owner’s daughter. Pete wants to ask Kate’s father, Old Caesar, for her hand in marriage and asks Philip to speak on his behalf. Philip speaks with Caesar about allowing Kate to marry Pete but Caesar refuses, telling Pete to leave because he is a penniless lout. Pete is angered over Caesar’s dismissal and vows to make him eat those words. Pete decides to travel to Africa and make his money abroad and rushes to tell Kate, with Philip reluctantly coming with him. Calling out to Kate until she answers, Pete stands on Philip’s shoulders so he can talk to Kate and tells her he is leaving for Africa and asks if she will wait for him. She agrees to wait for him and gives him a kiss before closing the blinds on him. As she peeks down on the two, she sees Pete telling Philip that she would wait for him and asking Philip to look after her but Kate suddenly seems nervous and goes to call out to them but the two men have already left. While Pete is gone, Philip begins calling on Kate almost every day and the two end up being attracted to one another. Philip’s mother says that his father ruined his career by marrying beneath him and she doesn’t want to see his chances of becoming Deemster, the island’s chief magistrate, and says he should break off his affair with Kate. Philip heads to the bar intending to do just that but he finds it full of the local fishermen and wonders what is going on. Caesar hands him a telegram, saying that Pete is dead, and Caesar says he might have been wrong about Pete and Kate as she hasn’t said a word to anyone. Philip goes to see Kate who tells him that they are now free and shouldn’t feel guilty about what they are doing. Meanwhile, Pete was still alive in Africa and had made his fortune. He writes a letter to Philip telling him he will be coming back and not to tell Kate, but Philip and Kate have begun to have a physical affair at an old mill. When Philip receives Pete’s telegram, he asks Kate to meet him and tells her the news. Kate says that she is glad Pete is alive but she doesn’t love him but Philip says she was promised to him and they have to end things as they watch the ship carrying Pete head towards port. Heading back to the tavern, Kate has Philip go inside first, as she is unable to face Pete just yet. Philip does and Pete embraces his friend before asking about Kate. Kate shows up and Pete embraces her before the two are led away by Caesar, who is happy to have Kate marry Pete now. The two are wed at the old mill where Philip and Kate had been having their affair and during the reception, Caesar gives a warning to them about dishonoring their vows, saying God will punish them. Kate goes through with the wedding but she can’t stand to be with Pete, as she is in love with Philip. Several weeks go by and Philip, who had gone on holiday after the wedding, is set to be appointed Deemster. Kate sends a note to Philip saying she must speak with him before the fishing fleet comes back. When Philip comes over, Kate begs him to take her away and when he asks why, she tells him she is pregnant with his child. Philip asks why she didn’t say anything sooner and she tells him he thought more of his career than her feelings. Kate insist that he take her away but Philip refuses, worrying about the shame they would face if what they did was known. Pete returns home and Kate starts to tell him the truth but seeing Philip walk away, she merely tells him that she is pregnant. Pete is excited and calls Philip back to tell him the news but as Pete turns his back, both Kate and Philip have sorrowful expressions on their faces. Time passes and Kate gives birth to a daughter, while Philip is made Deemster. After giving thanks to the crowd when he makes Deemster, Kate goes to see Philip and tells him that she left Pete and wants to be with him. Meanwhile, Pete returns home to find Kate missing and had left a note saying that she had loved another man and still loved him, leaving Pete with the baby. Pete is heartbroken but tells everyone that Kate had a rough time and was on vacation while he cares for the baby. Philip feels guilty when Pete tells him the news while Caesar finds the note Kate wrote but chooses not to say anything when Pete sees him with it. Meanwhile, Kate had been hiding in Philip’s office and wants Philip to run off with her but he refuses to ruin his career by doing so. Distraught, Kate returns to he home and Pete is excited to see her and have her back but she tells him she isn’t staying. Kate tells Pete that she is there for the baby and Pete refuses to let her have it. Kate then says that the baby isn’t his but he refuses to believe her and still won’t let her take the baby, grabbing the baby and locking themselves in the bedroom. Feeling completely hopeless, Kate leaves the house and decides to try and commit suicide by throwing herself off the harbor into the water below. Kate is rescued by a police officer and, charged with attempted suicide, brought before Philip’s court. Philip is shocked to see Kate there when suddenly, Pete, Caesar, and several of the fishermen enter the courtroom. Pete asks Philip to let him speak on her behalf and Philip agrees and after listening to Pete beg to have her released back to his care, Philip agrees to it but Kate refuses to go. Caesar, who figured out that Philip was the other man, accuses Philip and Philip admits to it, removing his powdered wig and vacating his position. Philip and Kate go to the house to pick up the baby and Pete kisses her goodbye and as Philip and Kate leave the island, facing the jeers of all the villagers who were watching from the windows, Pete sits at the table and cries as he has now lost everything, before returning to the sea with a haunted look in his eye.
The Manxman met with high praise from recent critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics seem to feel that, several critics seemed to like the story but admit this isn’t one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. Hitchcock’s last silent movie, he began filming this movie two weeks after his daughter Patricia was born. Two key lines in the movie, where Kate tells Philip, and later Pete, that she is haing a baby, did not have intertitles to go with them and instead, the audience was left to read her lips to know what was being said.
To be honest, I am feeling a little indifferent towards this movie, but it is not a bad movie. The acting was pretty good, with Carl Brisson (Pete), Malcolm Keen (Philip), and Anny Ondra (Kate) doing great jobs in their roles, putting a lot of expression and emotion into their performances. The story was ok, though pretty predictable for the most part. I know it was based on a novel by the same name, but I wished Hitchcock could have added a little more suspense to it. The camera work was pretty good, showing plenty of close ups to help emphasize the emotions from the main actors. Definitely not something you would expect from Hitchcock but worth giving a shot if you want to see some of his early works.
Rating: 3 out of 5