12 November 2008

Hitchcock | The Manxman (1929)

The Manxman (1929)
written by Eliot Stannard, based on a novel by Hall Caine

Back to melodrama and love triangles. The story involves two best friends and the woman they both love on the Isle of Man (hence the name... disappointingly, this was not a movie about a half-man, half-cat). Knowing it lacked boxing, I didn't have very high hopes for this one. It's not bad. I found myself getting into the soap opera-style story, wondering what was going to happen next.

One difference between this film and his previous melodramas is that The Manxman is a bit darker. We spend a lot of the movie waiting to see how the tragedy is going to unfold. What'll Pete do when he finds out his wife doesn't love him and his daughter really isn't his? In a way, it's a bit of a suspense film. Instead of a bomb planted under a table, we've got an oblivious, happy man with a load of heartbreak headed his way. I suppose, similarly, we're also waiting to see what will befall high-and-mighty Judge Phil once it gets out that he's fathered an illegitimate child with his best friend's wife.

The movie feels more open to me than previous efforts. Much time is spent indoors on sets, but there are also significant scenes set on beaches, docks, and in the streets of the town they live in. The beach scene, in particular, is beautiful as Hitchcock frames the two lovers through interesting rock formations.

This one doesn't seem to have too many fans -- and I've read Hitchcock wasn't terribly into the movie himself -- but I found it engaging. Not a bad final (sort of penultimate) silent film at all. (6/10)

Watched the region 1 DVD released by Lionsgate in 2007 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock: 3-Disc Collector's Edition. Nice print and transfer.