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Blackmail (1929)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 6 October 1929 (USA)
After killing a man in self-defense, a young woman is blackmailed by a witness to the killing.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Charles Bennett (from the play by), Alfred Hitchcock (adapted by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anny Ondra ... Alice White
Sara Allgood ... Mrs. White
Charles Paton ... Mr. White
John Longden ... Detective Frank Webber
Donald Calthrop ... Tracy
Cyril Ritchard ... The Artist
Hannah Jones ... The Landlady
Harvey Braban Harvey Braban ... The Chief Inspector (sound version)
Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop ... The Detective Sergeant (as Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop - Late C.I.D. Scotland Yard)
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Storyline

Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920s London. Her boyfriend, Frank Webber is a Scotland Yard detective who seems more interested in police work than in her. Frank takes Alice out one night, but she has secretly arranged to meet another man. Later that night, Alice agrees to go back to his flat to see his studio. The man has other ideas, and as he tries to rape Alice, she defends herself and kills him with a bread knife. When the body is discovered, Frank is assigned to the case, he quickly determines that Alice is the killer, but so has someone else, and blackmail is threatened. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

See and Hear It - Our Mother Tongue As It Should Be Spoken See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 October 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blackmail See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2012 restoration) (silent)

Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Anny Ondra had a very heavy Czech accent, which, combined with the primitive sound recording of the time, made her dialogue virtually unintelligible. All of her lines were dubbed in by Joan Barry. See more »

Goofs

When the blackmailer (Tracy) is lighting his cigar at the "standing-flame", the handle is on the opposite side during the close-up. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Det. Frank Webber: Well, we finished earlier tonight than I expected.
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Alternate Versions

Originally filmed as a silent movie, running 75 minutes; Hitchcock later added newly shot scenes and had other existing footage dubbed to create a talkie version, running 86 minutes. See more »


Soundtracks

Miss Up-to-Date
(1929) (uncredited)
Words by Frank Eyton and music by Billy Mayerl
Performed by Cyril Ritchard
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Creative, Subtle, & Suspenseful
1 June 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

While remembered as the first sound picture made by Alfred Hitchcock (or anyone else in Britain), there is much more to "Blackmail" than merely historical interest. It reveals the director's subtle creativity, with a carefully structured story that also produces some real suspense, with one of Hitchcock's best cameos and an entertaining chase sequence as bonuses. The movie has a unique feel, as Hitchcock was still using many silent film techniques at the same time that he was experimenting with sound. Not all of this works perfectly, but it does not detract from the film's many positive features.

Alice White (Anny Ondra, voice dubbed by Joan Barry) goes out for the evening with her boyfriend, who is a police detective (John Longden). When they have a series of minor quarrels, Alice decides to go her own way, and meets an artist friend. The artist's intentions are obvious, but Alice is innocently unaware. When he brings her to his studio, there is soon an unpleasant confrontation that sets in motion a turbulent series of events.

The story is carefully constructed not just to produce suspense but also to raise interesting questions in the viewer's mind. Alice feels a terrible sense of guilt and fear over what has happened - communicated to the viewer in a variety of creative ways - but of what is she really guilty? The behavior of the detective boyfriend is partly well-intentioned, but he certainly is not faultless. The moral ambiguity is often subtle, because it takes a back seat to the suspense, and it takes a couple of viewings to appreciate all that is going on.

There is a particularly nice symmetry to the beginning and ending, pointing to the greater significance of the action in between. The opening sequence (filmed in silent movie style) shows the detective and his partner dealing with a suspect in a routine way, not caring about him as a person. In the final scenes, when the detective must help Alice make a final report on everything that has happened, he sees his job in a far different perspective.

"Blackmail" is of the darker type of Hitchcock, like "Notorious" or "Vertigo". While clearly made in a different era, it has the same kind of depth and craftsmanship that distinguished those later, more well-known masterpieces.


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