Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Manxman


This seems to have been Hitchcocks’ last silent film, though Blackmail was released in both silent and sound versions. Childhood friends Pete, a fisherman, and Phil, a lawyer with eyes to be a Deemster (which is what they call a magistrate on the Isle o’ Man, go figure, but then they call themselves Manx and have cats with no tails, so you know these are weird people), are both in love with Kate. Phil stays quiet about it. Kate’s cranky old father forbids her marriage to Pete, so he goes off to Africa to make some money on sailing ships. The news comes back that he’s died. Kate and Phil fall in love, but Pete comes back. All wide-eyed, stupid innocence, Pete sees nothing. To honor some silly pledge they made, Phil lets Kate marry Pete … oh, this is pretty dreadful, isn’t it? Anyway, she can’t live with it, even though she has a baby … which, it turns out, is Phil’s! She leaves, abandoning the baby in the crib. Phil is about to become Deemster, has actually put on the wig, when a woman is brought into court for the crime of attempted suicide, throwing herself into the sea. Of course it is a slightly soggy Kate. Phil does the honorable thing, stepping down, confessing his love and his illegitimate child. Phil and Kate leave, followed by verbal abuse from the neighborhood harpies. At the end, Pete is back on his boat, somber but stalwart. This is, quite simply, a pretty bad movie, and another that would be forgotten today if it weren’t for Hitch’s name on it.