The Manxman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Manxman Reviews

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June 12, 2015
Alas! This is not Alfred Hitchcock's take on the Mark Cavendish story, Britain's greatest ever cycling sprinter. It is in fact more of his silent movie era melodrama tosh. Don't bother.
January 11, 2015
Hitchcock's final silent film is also his best. It's his most successful non-thriller too, but the master of suspense is still clearly at work here; his ingenious, artistic use of camerawork and powerful performers really make us feel the emotional turmoil of the story's tragic love triangle.
September 3, 2014
The last silent film made by Alfred Hitchcock (although his next feature would be shot both silent and with sound), this film features two life long best friends both falling for the same girl. In fact, if you've seen the awful love triangle in that terrible "Pearl Harbor" movie...then you've pretty much seen this plot. Two men fall for the same girl, one seems to win her heart but leaves for a one reason or proclaimed dead...the other guy starts going with her, only for them both to be caught off guard when it turns out he is alive and has returned. It is certainly executed better here than in that other movie...but it still doesn't grab my interest too much.
½ June 9, 2014
An incredibly tragic story that was Hitchcock's last silent film.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ March 9, 2014
"I am the Manxman, I am the walrus, goo-goo-g'joob!" Embarrassingly obvious references aside, it's hard to think of something being older than rock music, let alone a song by The Beatles, although it's even harder to think that there's an adaptation of "The Manxman" that's older than this one. Yup, the Brits were pretty innovative I suppose, which would make sense, considering that they had a gutsiness about them that is very much reflected in this film, which has the nerve to run the sprawling length of almost... two hours. Hey, two hours was sprawling back in the 1920s, because even back then, they knew that people didn't want to dedicate all that much time to silent films... except for D.W. Griffith. Man, and "Birth of a Nation" and "Intolerance", on top of being so startlingly long, had some pretty prominent themes on race and whatnot, so maybe the Americans are gutsier than the Brits as entertainers after all, and I mean that metaphorically, seeing as how it's hard to imagine someone having more gut than Alfred Hitchcock. Yeah, yeah, I know, Orson Welles, but you could tell that he wanted to be full-blown British something fierce, just as you could tell that Hitchcock was proud to be British. Even without accents, this film is mighty British, which would be cool and all if those British tropes didn't include some dry spells.

I suppose there's enough going on throughout this quiet affair to keep entertainment value adequate, and it helps that it's hard to find a version not graced by an impressive score incorporation, but after a while, all of the minimalism to storytelling devolves into blandness, as you might imagine it would, given its dated filmmaking style. Natural shortcomings shake the engagement value of this film, as they do with most every silent film, and can even be found within the silence, an unavoidable issue whose lack of voice nevertheless distances you from and thins out a conceptually promising narrative. Of course, I don't know if the narrative is all that conceptually promising to begin with, being an intriguing drama, make no mistake, but a minimalist one whose full potential could by no means be explored during this time, however limited it may be. Honestly, I'm not especially familiar with Hall Caine's original source material's full potential, so as far as I can tell, Eliot Stannard's scenario interpretation is really what's so lacking, but either way, there's only so much diversity to this idea, and it becomes harder and harder to deny that the more the film drags along. I joke about how two hours was considered a hefty length during this era of very simple filmmaking, but at around 110 minutes or so, this film really does feel too long, meandering along material repetitiously, yet still rarely abandoning that classic silent film superficiality that dulls things down a bit. Make no mistake, the strengths are relatively considerable, and I've doubts that this was topped as a silent film-era Hitchcock film, but there's only so much you can do with this material, and draggy, often dry storytelling isn't exactly the way to go. The film is forgettable, but, again, it might very well be better than Alfred Hitchcock's preceding silent opuses, facing its shortcomings, both natural and consequential, and overcoming them enough to keep you, or at least your eyes adequately invested.

Certainly, motion photography capabilities were seriously limited by 1929, and age matters matters worse as it wears down the prints of this film, but for what it is, Jack E. Cox's cinematography is truly beautiful, drawing in frames of light shadow around emphasized whites that take solid advantage of the coloration limitations at the time in order to give you a sense of subtle visual flare. These hauntingly lovely plays on the handsomeness of this film's distinguished environment not only does justice to the lovely production values, but draws you into a sense of scope within a rather minimalist drama, thus, visual style, alone, guides much of the engagement value of this affair, at least about as much as it can. It's simply too difficult to bring all that much life to this story concept, at least at this simpler time in filmmaking, although that's not to say that the story is without meat, being a romantic melodrama whose layers were still prominent enough, and continue to ring to this day enough to endear, at least on paper. As for the execution, the film succumbs to storytelling limitations of the time, but it really does try in more than a few areas, working to be relatively extensive, if a little draggy in its meditations upon conflict, passion and, above all, characterization. Well, at least the characterization feels distinguished thanks to the performances, which, for their time, in spite of some hammy occasions, weren't too shabby in their projecting charisma and dramatic depth, in spite of a lack of dialogue. What further sells the core of this drama, at least to the best of its abilities, is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock's direction, which is kind of bland in its being more meditative than lively, but has its share of moments of genuine subtlety and grace that may not exactly have been well beyond the time, but carried a heart that cannot pump that much blood into this unavoidably improvable opus, yet has a weight to it that, when really played up, might very well compel, even by today's standards. These highlights in well-aged directorial inspiration are few and far between, and bridged by a questionable story concept and problematic execution, but through all of the natural and consequential shortcomings, there's enough quality to this drama for it to endear, even if it can only endear so much.

Overall, storytelling dry spells make worse the blandness of the silent filmmaking format, while a relatively overlong length gives you plenty of time to ponder upon the natural narrative limitations that secure the final product as yet another underwhelming silent film, no matter how hard it tries with the lovely cinematography, decent acting and reasonably inspired direction that admittedly do enough justice to an intriguing story concept to make Alfred Hitchcock's "The Manxman" a dated, but endearing final effort for Hitchcock as a man of silent cinema.

2.5/5 - Fair
February 27, 2014
A bit too long, a bit too slow, and a bit uninteresting. The characters are good, there is a nice bit of suspense throughout, but the plot doesn't hold up too well. There are a few good moments here and there, but they're most spread out through the run-time.
January 19, 2014
The old chestnut about a love triangle has some interesting camera angles, and that's about it.
January 5, 2014
The story is simple and bittersweet, the acting is typically melodramatic - but Hitchcock's brilliant touch for visual story telling is in full evidence. Hitch also reveals his penchant for cute blondes in this film, and due to his own obsession and affections he has a way of enchanting the audience with them as well.
½ November 21, 2013
Le dernier film muet d'Alfred Hitchcock (toujours scénarisé par son compère Eliot Stannard) est un mélodrame plutôt habile a la morale d'epoque et aux acteurs plutôt performants. Carl Brisson, Malcolm Keen et Anny Ondra sont crédibles et n'en font pas trop, pendant qu'Hitchcock expérimente de nouvelles manières de raconter un film (sa manière de montrer le temps qui passe est assez inventive).
May 30, 2013
If find ti quite unwatchable.
March 25, 2013
The Manxman (Alfred Hitchcock, 1929)

I watched three Alfred Hitchcock movies I'd never seen before this week. One of them is considered among his best films; The Lady Vanishes appears on over half the critical thousand-best lists I have collected over the years. The other two, Young and Innocent and The Manxman, appear on none. These would seem to be considered relatively minor films as far as Hitchcock's output is concerned. So it may be somewhat sacrilegious for me to say this, but I liked The Manxman, Hitchcock's final silent film, just as much as The Lady Vanishes.

Based on a novel by Hall Caine (which had already been adapted into a film in 1917 by George Loane Tucker; while by the standards of the time it was an almost unimaginably lavish production, the few voters on IMDB who've seen it as I write this are largely unimpressed), The Manxman is the classic love triangle story. Kate Creegan (the delicious Andry Onna, who would later appear in Hitchcock's Blackmail) is the daughter of the innkeeper on the Isle of Man, which lies between Wales and Ireland. Two childhood friends are both infatuated with her; fisherman Peter (Carl Brisson, returning from Hitch's The Ring) is below her station, but a good, solid man who truly loves her; she's altogether fond of him, but her father isn't happy with the match. He sails off to sea to make his fortune, leaving Kate in the capable hands of Philip (Malcolm Keen, also a Hitch veteran; he'd appeared in The Lodger), an aspiring Deemster (island judge) who is as much above her station as Peter is below it; in this case, it's his parents who don't approve of the match. For, yes, Philip is just as much in love with Kate as is Peter.

It's wonderful stuff indeed, with the classic love-triangle plot being used for all sorts of ethical dilemmas, acts of nobility, and the like. I feel like I should probably be more concerned by the fact that Onna's character is more a vehicle for these dilemmas and acts than a character in her own right, but I wasn't, and I've been mulling it over for a couple of weeks and honestly I still can't. I found this little drama ("little" in the sense of "intimate" more than "minor") charming, and the blush hasn't faded as it's stayed in my memory. A neglected Hitchfilm whose current presence on Netflix Instant (at least as of this writing) should be celebrated. ****
½ February 17, 2013
Carl Brisson was awesome! So touching.
½ February 2, 2013
For a silent film, it is pretty good. If a drama can make you consider moving to the edge of your seat, it must have a somewhat compelling story. This film is definitely imperfect; one of the main characters is just dense, to the extent that you can't help but roll your eyes at times. Nevertheless, I found myself on multiple occasions becoming genuinely engaged, interested in the fate of the characters, and even impatiently anticipating the outcome of different events throughout the story. Not a movie I am looking forward to watching again (there wasn't anything to make it really exceptional or unforgettable), but it wasn't bad either, especially considering how old it is.
½ September 20, 2012
I was a bit surprised to see the mixed reviews having enjoyed this film. I note that various sources list this as a film in excess of two hours yet the version I have (Hitchcock Early Years Boxset) runs at just under an hour and a half. Perhaps there are two versions and the succinct version simply works better. I'll have to investigate that. Nonetheless I experienced a relatively straightforward film that was of a sombre tone yet it stuck with me and really felt quite worthwhile. One of the best silent Hitch films that I have seen.
Super Reviewer
½ August 13, 2012
If he were still alive, then today, August 13, 2012 would be the day that Alfred Hitchcock turned 113. To celebrate, I watched and am now reviewing the final silent film of his career: 1929s The Manxman.

The story here, filmed on location on The Isle of Man, follows that of childhood friends Pete the fisherman and Philip the law student. They end up in a love triangle, both madlyattracted to village girl Kate. Pete ultimately wins her, but, after he is presumed lost/dead at sea, she begins things anew with Philip. Pete later turns up alive and unharmed, and marries Kate. She ends up pregnant, and conflicted over what to do, as the consequences may be dire.

Okay, so, storywise this isn't the most original film, and at the time Hitch, despite already establishing himself as The Master of Suspense, was still under contract with British International Pictures, and thus forced to do any picture they gave him, this being his final one for the silent era. It's dour, weepy, and a rather melodramatic romance movie, but it's fairly well played, decently acted, and gorgeously shot.

It has some thrilling moments, but this isn't really a thriller. It's just a nice, though not really upbeat love triangle tale. It's passable stuff, yet probably doesn't need to be 129 minutes, and definitely feels that long, if not longer. Still though, it's hard to rip on Hitch too much, and this is a must see for completists.
½ June 11, 2012
Hitchcock doesn't really let to get his stylistic flair fly here with women's weepy of a film that features one of the most daft leading characters in all of film history. It moves along at a nice clip and never fails to engage but a slight trim could probably be in order.
January 14, 2012
Slightly better than The Ring.
January 5, 2012

"What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

A love triangle with splashes of comedy. Carl Brisson's theatre reactions are hilarious. The version I saw was an hour and fifty minutes, which was to long. Didn't see much of Hitchcock's signature in there.

"The mills of God grind slowly."-Caesar Cregeen (Randle Ayrton)
November 20, 2011
Recommended by Trthornhill
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