Although he was established as a master of suspense by 1929, Alfred Hitchcock was still under contract to British International Pictures, and thus still obliged to direct everything his studio chose for him. Hitch's last silent film was The Manxman, a "romantic triangle" imbroglio based on a novel by Hall Caine. Filmed on location in the Isle of Man, the story concerns a local fisherman named Pete (Carl Brisson), a law student named Philip (Malcolm Keen), and a beautiful village girl named Kate (played by German actress Anny Ondra). When Pete is reported drowned, Kate turns to Philip for solace and sexual gratification. By and by, Pete returns none the worse for wear. Never suspecting that Kate has been unfaithful to him, Pete marries the girl. Eventually she bears Philip's child, which of course Pete assumes is his. Unable to lie to her husband anymore, Kate attempts suicide, which according to the laws of the Island is a crime. Kate is brought before the judge, who happens to be her ex-lover Philip. Confronted with the truth by Kate's father (who has suspected all along that she and Philip have had an affair), Philip gives up his legal career to make an "honest woman" out of Kate. An unrelentingly dour film, The Manxman is nonetheless beautifully photographed by Jack Cox. Sensing that the film would not appeal to a mass audience, BIP withheld release of The Manxman until after the distribution of Hitchcock's first talkie, Blackmail.
by Hal Erickson synopsis