The Manxman being Hitchcock’s 9th film is I believe the last silent film he directed. Fittingly to fit in with this by some kind of bad luck/poor searching I was unable to locate a version of this film with a musical score so was forced to watch my first ever truly silent film. This was a very strange yet captivating experience and was surprisingly enjoyable once I got into the film and allowed me to notice more intricacies about the performances and shots. However it is not something I would do again or recommend, as it is quite tiresome and involves a lot of concentration to fight of the boredom.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The storyline is reasonably simple at first two best friends, Phil (Malcolm Keen) an up and coming lawyer and Pete (Carl Brisson) a lowly fisherman both fall in love in the same girl, Kate (Anny Ondra – who previously appeared in last weeks Hitchcock film Blackmail). Kate’s father will not let her marry Pete because he has no money so Pete sets off travelling to make money, Kate promises to wait for him to return so they can marry. Whilst he is gone Phil and Kate fall in love and Phil ‘takes her honour’. When Pete returns Phil and Kate agree that although they love each other they can’t hurt Pete, so cover up their affair leading to lots and lots of lies and tension.

 

THE GOOD

The plot of this film is actually quite intriguing; after the first few minutes I was expected another stereotypical love triangle, like The Ring, however although that does happen the narrative has many twists and changes that kept me thoroughly interested throughout.

 

The film is one that would say is Hitchcock’s best so far at the art of Visual storytelling… the film has very few Title Cards and for the first time they are not needed at all. Everything that happens is portrayed beautifully by the actors and lots of close-ups on notes (which I now expect in Hitchcock films). The passing of time is shown through the use of Kate’s diary which is very effective. 

The film also creates a lot of tension, the first time that Hitch has fully managed to achieve such with a love storyline, and it is all based on the lies. Some of the shots are just fantastic such as this one moment when Pete is celebrating his marriage to Kate whilst Kate and Phil look away from him extremely sad and pitiful. It also creates an enormous amount of empathy for Pete as he does nothing wrong in this film and is therefore unlucky for all the bad treatment he gets from his supposed ‘friends’.

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A Hitchcockian feature which I have only recently thought of as an auteur quality appears in the film and that is that the film begins and ends with the same shot only different emotions from the characters. In The Manxman the shot is of Pete on his fishing boat but the same technique is also used in Champagne and thus is something I’m now going to look out for during the rest of this challenge.

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THE BAD

As discussed the film is generally good however there is a passage in the middle of the film when Pete and Kate get married that was incredibly boring as nothing really happened. There are also several twists that come out rather too conveniently which is kind of annoying.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Once more there is no cameo in this film.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Manxman is a very good film that is thoroughly enjoyable and understandably considered alongside The Lodger as Hitchcock’s best silent film. However watching it with no sound I believe hindered by experience overall and therefore I award this film three Hitch’s. However if I have time I will try and find a version with a score and see the difference it makes.

 

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