IMDb > Blackmail (1929)
Blackmail
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Blackmail (1929) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.1/10   6,196 votes »
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Up 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Charles Bennett (from the play by)
Alfred Hitchcock (adapted by)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Blackmail on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
6 October 1929 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
See and Hear It - Our Mother Tongue As It Should Be Spoken
Plot:
Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920's London. Her boyfriend, Frank Webber is a Scotland... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
NewsDesk:
(62 articles)
Video of the Day: See Every Alfred Hitchcock Cameo
 (From SoundOnSight. 21 August 2014, 10:01 AM, PDT)

Odessa honours Frears
 (From ScreenDaily. 14 July 2014, 2:03 AM, PDT)

Berlinale and Cannes winners competing in Odessa
 (From ScreenDaily. 11 June 2014, 5:28 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
They Did A Bad, Bad Thing See more (75 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

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 ... The Chief Inspector (sound version)
Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop ... The Detective Sergeant (as Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop - Late C.I.D. Scotland Yard)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Johnny Ashby ... Boy (uncredited)

Joan Barry ... Alice White (voice) (uncredited)
Johnny Butt ... Sergeant (uncredited)

Alfred Hitchcock ... Man on Subway (uncredited)
Phyllis Konstam ... Gossiping Neighbour (uncredited)
Sam Livesey ... The Chief Inspector (silent version) (uncredited)
Phyllis Monkman ... Gossip Woman (uncredited)
Percy Parsons ... Crook (uncredited)

Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock 
 
Writing credits
Charles Bennett (from the play by)

Alfred Hitchcock (adapted by)

Benn W. Levy (dialogue) (as Benn Levy)

Michael Powell  uncredited

Produced by
John Maxwell .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
Jimmy Campbell (musical score by) (as Campbell)
Reginald Connelly (musical score by) (as Connelly)
Hubert Bath (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Jack E. Cox (photography) (as Jack Cox)
 
Film Editing by
Emile de Ruelle (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
C. Wilfred Arnold  (as W.C. Arnold)
Norman G. Arnold (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Frank Mills .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
Dallas Bower .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Harold V. King .... sound (uncredited)
Harry Miller .... sound editor (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Ronald Neame .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Michael Powell .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Derick Williams .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Hubert Bath .... musical score arranged by
Hubert Bath .... musical score compiled by
John Reynders .... conductor: British International Symphony Orchestra
Harry Stafford .... musical score arranged by
Harry Stafford .... musical score compiled by
 
Other crew
Joan Barry .... dubbing voice: Anny Ondra (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
85 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.20 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Brazil:12 | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:K-12 (1995) | Finland:K-16 (1931) | Germany:12 | Iceland:L | Spain:T | Sweden:15 (DVD rating) | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1989)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
When the film came to be released, the silent version did considerably better business than the sound one, as few cinemas outside the big cities were equipped for sound.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When the Artist helps Alice fasten the ballerina outfit, the position of the sleeve on her shoulder changes between shots.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Det. Frank Webber:Well, we finished earlier tonight than I expected.
See more »
Soundtrack:
Sonny BoySee more »

FAQ

Are the first eight minutes supposed to be silent?
Why are the picture and sound so bad?
Is this film really in the U.S. public domain?
See more »
5 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
They Did A Bad, Bad Thing, 13 June 2007
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States

It's not the crime itself, but the cover-up that entraps two lovers in this cleverly sinewy suspense film shot by Alfred Hitchcock early in his career.

How early? Apparently, the sound era arrives about ten minutes in, as the opening reel is shot entirely as a silent movie (minus "quote" cards) before switching to audible dialogue. Yet like many seemingly creaky elements of "Blackmail", this is something that actually works to the film's benefit and gives it a stylistic uniqueness that helps it stand out today.

Alice (Anny Ondra) steps out on her police detective boyfriend Frank (John Longden) to have fun with an artist she fancies named Crewe (Cyril Ritchard). A crime is committed instead, and she finds herself back in Frank's arms seeking his protection. Unfortunately for both of them, a sponger lowlife named Tracy (Donald Calthrop) knows what's doing and pressures the pair for his silence.

To really appreciate "Blackmail's" skewed perspective, it's important to understand Hitchcock's complex view of the law. By all accounts a law-abiding, socially upright man, he nevertheless nursed an extreme dread of John Law dating back to a childhood episode when he was locked in a cell to be taught a lesson. As a director, Hitchcock presented authority figures as vaguely menacing, while reserving his greatest sympathy for outsiders who found themselves, rightly or wrongly, on the run.

The first image of "Blackmail" is the spinning tire of a police quick-response van, or is it a roulette wheel? The capricious nature of law enforcement is always on view, whether it's a bobby sauntering outside an apartment window while Alice screams for help inside or Frank using his authority to subvert a murder investigation.

This is the rare Hitchcock film that features fine acting bottom-to-top, but Calthrop stands out best as Tracy, the personification of the core ambiguity of this film. Described as "kind of mousy", given to smirking while pleading for help and whistling when he thinks he has the upper hand, Tracy seems easy to hate at first glance but isn't, not as Calthrop imbues him with a vulnerability anyone can relate to, cutting across the staginess around him with a dynamic performance that anticipates how cinema liberated the actor from hidebound stagecraft.

"One's got to live, you know!" he says, but the people he says this to act as if this is yet another of Tracy's unreasonable demands. We end the film pulling for him with as much passion as we pulled away from him at first encounter.

Subtle directorial touches abound, like Alice holds her face in an expression we see mirrored in a cut-to scene of Tracy fleeing through the British Museum while an impassive giant mask looks on. There's also clever use of the new sound medium (the "knife" one's not subtle, but a lot of fun) and knowing humor, like a conversation about a new crime film. Frank, being from Scotland Yard, scoffs at such fiction, but Alice thinks it has merit: "I heard they got a real criminal to direct it, just to be on the safe side."

About the only negatives are the static compositions and bad audio, problems of the period and not of the film. "Blackmail" even has a terrific final shot, which Hitchcock never topped until his final film, "Family Plot". It's another rueful note on the hit-or-miss quality of law enforcement, one that stays with you after the laughter fades.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (75 total) »

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