Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Manxman (Alfred Hitchcock) **

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Carl Brisson, Malcolm Keen, Anny Ondra

Background: Hitchcock was a busy director at this point, making 8 movies in the previous two years. The story was adapted from a novel written by Hal Caine.

Story: Fisherman Pete (Brisson) and lawyer Phillip (Keen) grew up as best friends. Pete is in love with Kate (Ondra), but cannot marry her until he gets more money, so he goes off on a long fishing trip. While he's away, Philip and Kate begin a shameful affair, but soon find out about his death. However, their marriage plans are halted when they find out he's very much alive.

Thoughts: There's a decided lack of artistry in the telling of this story. You wouldn't be able to tell this was directed by Hitchcock, as it contains none of his signature touches or his skill as a storyteller. The film mainly plods along from event to event without much interest. Anny Ondra gives an emotional performance in the lead role, but she has no chemistry with Malcolm Keen. This is a huge problem, as we're supposed to feel for the complex moral dilemma faced by Phillip and Kate. Yet they just seem like horrible, selfish people and the only sympathy to be found is for poor Pete, who just gets horribly mistreated through the whole movie. This is a romantic melodrama without any romance that doesn't need to be seen by anyone other than Hitchcock completists.

Postscript: This film only has any distinction because it is Hitchcock's last silent film. He would follow it up the same year with the much better Blackmail (also starring Ondra).

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