Manxman, The (1929)

The Manxman (1929), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Friends since boyhood, a lawyer and a fisherman both love the pub owner's daughter. She and one of them will deceive the other. Tragedy.

This is not a favorite among fans of Hitchcock's early work, but I liked it more than I expected. Silent films must somehow communicate the thoughts of the actors without constant use of intertitles, with expression, gesture, posture, direction of glance. It's a balance between too much and too little. This one is very good at showing people thinking one thing but pretending another.

At one level it is just soap opera, but there are dark themes underneath. When a man falls in love with his best friend's girl, when she has made a promise she immediately regrets -- these can be deep waters. Even good people sometimes have unkind thoughts and wicked desires; Hitchcock shows us this.

There is a funny Romeo & Juliet balcony scene where the fisherman stands on the lawyer's shoulders so he can propose. Later, a sad scene: the husband returns home to a empty house (apart from the unattended baby). First he sees the table has been set for one instead of two. Then he finds his wife's ring and a note.

The copy from the Mill Creek Alfred Hitchcock: The Legend Begins economy collection is not very good. Enough is trimmed off of the left margin that I have a hard time reading some of the intertitles. They are available at the Hitchcock wiki.