Hitchcock’s silent films ended in a similar fashion to how they began, with love triangles, betrayal and suspense.
The 1929 film, The Manxman was not supposed to be the last of Hitch’s silent era films but the swiftly growing popularity of the ‘talkies’ made silent films almost dead overnight.
The Manxman tells the story of Pete, a kind and trusting fisherman and his naive love for the local barman’s daughter, Kate. Early on in our story Pete is denied permission to marry Kate due to his social and financial position, only making Pete more determined to be with her than ever. In order to make himself worthy, Pete leaves for Africa in an attempt to make his fortune but not before asking Kate to wait for him and ensuring his best friend, Philip will take care of her while he’s away.
In inevitable movie fashion, Pete’s absence leads his best friend and his girlfriend into each other’s arms, quickly forgetting the promises they made, or at least disregarding them. The character of Kate, was to me, frivolous, thoughtless and irritating. Philip, while still not blameless in any sense, did seem to at least suffer guilt at his betrayal, which I suppose is better than nothing…
A little ways into the affair, the two are informed of Pete’s apparent death, news which Kate seems quite pleased with since she can now be with Philip alone.Not surprisingly, the news of Pete’s death ends up being false and he returns home, with his promised fortune, thrilled to see those closest to him again.
As the movie goes on, Pete is betrayed time and again, he marries Kate not knowing of her affair or that the daughter she bares is not his own. I found the character of Pete so sweet and charming that it was near impossible to sympathise with the characters who continually did him wrong, especially when Pete keeps his kind and level head even as he is finally being faced with the hard truths surrounding his life.
|Loving that triangle...|
Overall, I did enjoy the movie but would have preferred more reason to feel for the other characters in the story. That being said, there were times when I felt sorry for their positions but it was difficult when they continued to lie to the person who trusted them most.
I’m glad to end the silent film portion of Hitchcock’s career on such a high note but I am definitely looking forward to seeing his transition into ‘talkies’.
Join me next week, to hear how I get on with the 1929 film, Blackmail.