The Manxman (1929) – reviewed by George

This film is part soap opera and part Greek tragedy. It certainly shows the maturity of the director as he stages scene after scene of deception, devotion, ambition, and pure unselfish love. And some selfish love too. Alfred Hitchcock’s 9th film is masterful.
Two men, best friends in boyhood, and best friends still, despite their different backgrounds and current status, like the same girl. The men are Philip Christian (Malcolm Keen), a lawyer expected someday to be a Deemster, which is Isle of Man talk for Judge, and Pete Quilliam (Carl Brisson), who is a fisherman. The girl is Kate Cregeen (Anny Ondra), the daughter of the local publican, Caesar Cregeen (Randle Ayrton) and his wife Mrs Cregeen (Claire Greet).
The fishing fleet is coming in, and Philip has come to meet the boats with the Petition he has written at Pete’s request. It is a petition “of the fishermen attending the Fishery on the coasts of this Isle, to protect against the encroachment of the steam trawlers on their fishing grounds.” All of the fisherfolk head over to the Manx Fairy, Caesar’s pub, to sign the petition and have a pint as well. The best friends seem awfully glad to see Kate, and she them. But does she seem to favor the lawyer?
After the signing Pete wants to ask Caesar if he can begin to “see” Kate, but Caesar is so frightening that Pete asks Philip to talk to Caesar on his behalf. Caesar stands his ground and calls Pete a penniless lout, so Pete decides to go to Africa and get rich. He first asks Kate to wait for him, and then asks Philip to look after her until he returns. Philip is already thinking about dating Kate, since he knows her father will approve, but how can he betray Pete? When he gets home that night his aunt says, “You were out with that publican’s daughter again today. It doesn’t improve your prospects to be seen about with that girl. Your father married beneath him – let his ruined career be a warning to you. I’ve devoted my life to fitting you for the day when you become Deemster. Break it off while there is time.”
So there’s your set-up. Misunderstandings, outright lies, schemings, and sudden realizations follow. A really good movie which is a credit to the entire cast and crew.
Adapted from the famous story by Sir Hall Caine (that’s a quote from the opening credits), Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Scenario by Eliot Stannard.

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