The Manxman ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

After spending most of the last two days in bed, apparently exhausted, I finally got back to my Hitchcock 2-disc set. The Manxman was the last of the eight feature films (none of which I have watched in any particular order whatsoever). It's an all-so familiar story of a doomed love triangle: The naive Pete worships Kate, who in turn loves Pete's best friend, Philip. This silent film is 84 years old, yet it's difficult to see where the story might be modified much for a contemporary iteration. Obviously, Kate should be freer to be more vocal and proactive about her own wishes, but I can also understand how even a forthright woman might be guilted into appeasing as enthusiastic a devotee as Pete.

I found myself sympathizing with all three principle characters, which is unusual for these kinds of stories. Often, there's sympathy for the party who winds up shut out but indifference or even resentment for the others. I felt badly for Pete, I understood Philip's conflicts and I even empathized with Kate - who never asked to be put in the difficult situation in the first place. Man, though...finding out about the baby? Heart-crushing, that.

Maybe it's because I started watching around 5AM, but I did feel that at 1:50, The Manxman is either overlong or has some pacing issues - or both. At the 45 minute mark, I found myself trying to guess how far into the story we were. At the hour mark, I started guessing how much time was left. At the 1:30 point, I resigned that the film was just going to keep going forever. The finale was a pretty strong payoff, I'll admit, and offhand I couldn't necessarily point to anything to excise or abridge, but getting to the courtroom was a bit of a slog.

Still, I feel pretty up on The Manxman for its cast. In particular, Malcolm Keen's understated facial expressions contrasted with Carl Brisson's oblivious permagrin helped establish both Philip's quiet suffering and Pete's naivete. Anny Ondra, to whom I took an instant liking in Blackmail, bears a physical resemblance here to Christina Applegate in some shots and calls to mind shades of Louise Brooks's unapologetic performance in Pandora's Box.

How The Manxman Entered My Flickchart

The Manxman < Superman/Batman: Apocalypse --> #1499
Though I was caught up in the love triangle of The Manxman and its three leads are terrific, I *really* enjoy watching Superman truly cut loose.

The Manxman > Get Smart (2008) --> #1131
Get Smart has its moments, but I was more invested in The Manxman's doomed love triangle.

The Manxman > Troy --> #943
The scale to Troy worked, but the story just felt too ho-hum to be a dramatization of such a legend. Going with The Manxman for being compelling despite being overlong.

The Manxman > No Strings Attached --> #848
I do find Natalie Portman charming enough that I liked No Strings Attached, but Anny Ondra showed more range and depth in Hitchcock's final silent film.

The Manxman > Reservoir Dogs --> #801
I know I'm in the vast minority, but I only kinda like Reservoir Dogs. I have a few more complaints about The Manxman, but I was also more caught up in it.

The Manxman > Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets --> #778
They should have made a Harry Potter movie where Ron finds out that Hermione had Harry's baby. Now *that* would have been interesting. Manxman wins here.

The Manxman < Employee of the Month (2004) --> #778
I remember getting enough of a kick out of Employee of the Month that I'd be more apt to want to re-watch it than The Manxman and on that basis, it gets the nod.

The Manxman < Dr. T & the Women --> #778
I prefer the premise of The Manxman; the casts are mostly a draw though my favorite performance in either is Anny Ondra in The Manxman. Dr. T & the Women snags the win, though, for better pacing.

The Manxman < The Money Pit --> #778
I don't generally go for the kind of over-the-top, outrageous comedy that is The Money Pit, but there's something about Tom Hanks and Shelley Long's escalating insanity that's a lot of fun to watch.

The Manxman > Idiocracy --> #775
I like the premise of Idiocracy, but I feel it needed another revision to really sharpen itself. Going with The Manxman for engaging me despite its pacing issues.

The Manxman entered my Flickchart at #775/1508