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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In one key shot, the villain Cyril Ritchard is photographed with a thick shadow (caused by the arm of an overhead chandelier) across his upper lip. Hitchcock wanted the image to evoke the old-fashioned, heavily mustached villain found in many silent films. He later called this touch "my farewell to silent pictures". See more »
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 »
Hitchcock artfully enters the era of talking pictures
This film may .not hold up among Hitchcock's great films from his golden years of 1948 through 1963, but compare it to any other talking picture from 1929 and then tell me what you think.
The fact is, this film is shot part silent. Yes there is sound, but there is no synchronized dialogue until about ten minutes into the film when the police detective and his girlfriend who are the central characters speak to one another. Shooting the film primarily silent with synchronized effects and leaving the talking sequences for segments of the film where dialogue was necessary and then having the judgment to know how much dialogue was enough and stop at that point was something Hitchcock got from the beginning. Watch some of the long-winded speeches from some other 1929 films and realize that many of Hitchcock's contemporaries struggled with this skill.
The story is a good one. Alice is feeling neglected by her police detective boyfriend, and follows a handsome artist up to his flat. After some flirting the artist turns suddenly violent and assaults her. She defends herself by grabbing a knife and stabbing the man. Stunned and sure she has not been seen by anyone entering the man's flat, she attempts to erase all signs of her presence there and returns home. She mentions the incident to no one, but is weighted down with guilt.
Frank, Alice's boyfriend, investigates the crime scene and sees Alice's glove. He confiscates it. Unfortunately, someone else who is not Alice has the other glove. The lovers don't discuss anything but the threat of the blackmailer until the end of the film. Like many of Hitchcock's later works, much of his art is in furtive glances and in objects that recall the crime rather than specific dialogue. An example of this is a jester in the artist's painting that Alice sees as pointing at her and thus accusing her. The jester meets Alice's eye both immediately after the crime and at the end of the film.
Highly recommended as one of the best talking pictures of 1929, but I am yet to find a satisfactory copy on DVD anywhere.
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