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Blackmail (1929)

7.1
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Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920's London. Her boyfriend, Frank Webber is a Scotland Yard detective who seems more interested in police work than in her. Frank takes ... See full summary »

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Title: Blackmail (1929)

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Stars: Alfred Hitchcock, Anny Ondra
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Charles Paton ...
...
Donald Calthrop ...
Cyril Ritchard ...
Hannah Jones ...
Harvey Braban ...
The Chief Inspector (sound version)
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 1920's 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 »

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 October 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chantaje  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

There is a big mess with the title of the premiere of this movie in Spain. The film was apparently not released in Spain until the 70s, due to its status as one of the first movies with sound system. Then someone wrote a book in which he decided to assign the title of "La muchacha de Londres", which had belonged to another film with Anny Ondra, Eileen of the Trees (1928), to this. Thereafter this error was copied in various publications, and when the film was dubbed and aired on TV in 1984, this error was maintained. Meanwhile in the 70s, the film was first released in theaters in Spain, entitled "Chantaje", title that should really know this movie, and not as "La muchacha de Londres". This chain of errors could be discovered because of the novelization of the argument of "La muchacha de Londres", published at an early date to the premiere of that title in Spain. See more »

Goofs

Alice grasps the knife in a normal cutting position, with her thumb at the front of the handle. But her grip is different as she takes it behind the curtain: the knife is now held below her fist, with her thumb at the back of the handle, in a stabbing position. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Det. Frank Webber: Well, we finished earlier tonight than I expected.
See more »


Soundtracks

Miss Up-to-Date
(1929) (uncredited)
Words by Frank Eyton and music by Billy Mayerl
Performed by Cyril Ritchard
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Creative, Subtle, & Suspenseful
1 June 2001 | by (Ohio) – See 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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