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Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 remake of the 1916 U.K. drama The Manxman is no picnic: lives are destroyed, careers ruined, and hopes dashed. One of the director's harshest works, this silent film concerns two old school chums on the Isle of Man, Pete (Carl Brisson) and Phil (Malcolm Keen), who both love the same woman, Kate (Anny Ondra). Phil has been reared and educated to become an aristocrat--a successful lawyer and eventual judge. Pete, by contrast, is happy as a fisherman but cannot win Kate until he earns his fortune. (He also doesn't know how Phil really feels about his girl.) When word comes that Pete has died overseas, Phil and Kate consummate their passion, only to find that the news of their friend's demise has been greatly exaggerated. What follows is a doomed effort by the lovers to paper over what they've done: Pete marries Kate, all right, but Kate and Phil's deception not only doesn't go away, it just gets deeper. Hitchcock explores, though not too subtly, his developing preoccupation with shared guilt and secret selves, and he layers in strong hints of ever-deepening motivation behind so much self-destruction. (A suggestion that blue-blooded Phil is really using the barmaid Kate as a shield against his destiny is not only provocative but amplifies the tragedy.) Much of the film is set-bound, but there are also astonishing moments of Hitchcock working out early versions of visual ideas fulfilled up to 30 years later in such films as North by Northwest and Psycho.

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