Despite their differing backgrounds, fisherman Pete and lawyer Philip have been life long friends on the Isle of Man. Pete wants to marry Kate, the landlord's daughter at the local inn, however Kate's father doesn't think he is good enough. Pete leaves the island to seek his fortune abroad and entrusts Kate to Philip, but they start to be attracted to each other.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hitchcock's final silent film is another drama focusing on a love triangle his primary plot basis in these early days before he became the master of suspense.
In many ways The Manxman can be seen as something of a loose remake of The Ring (1928), following a similar story of a love triangle between a man, his wife and his best friend, with similar characters and circumstances and the same lead man in Carl Brisson. However while that earlier boxing drama eventually pulled its punch (excuse the pun), The Manxman is a far harsher affair, with a ruthless disregard for its characters' fates that prefigures film noir.
As was Hitchcock's style from his earliest works, his aim here as a director is to place the audience inside the scenario, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them. The film is almost entirely composed of point-of-view shots, and an unusually large number of them in which an actor looks straight into the camera. Time and time again Carl Brisson's big innocent face stares out at us, as if implicating us in the guilt of the other two leads.
This also happens to be one of a small number of Hitchcock pictures which is very beautiful to look at. There are plenty of exquisite location shots and great use of natural lighting, in ironic counterpoint to the darkness of the story.
While not quite the best of them, The Manxman is perhaps the most confident of Hitchcock's silent pictures. Whereas the majority of his silents relied too much upon rather obvious expressionist camera techniques, The Manxman is shot much more straightforwardly, and yet it still has a smooth, flowing style and isn't cluttered up with too many title cards. For me though, Hitchcock didn't really become an interesting director until he started making talkies.
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