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

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Overview

User Rating:
7.1/10   6,648 votes »
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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:
The Powerful Talking Picture See more »
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:
User Reviews:
some glitches and flaws, but mostly a smashing success See more (73 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


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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:
Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock]being bothered by a small boy on the underground.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: Alice's hair is different on multiple occasions on switching camera angle close-ups. Most noticeable when Crewe is attempting to assist Alice button the back of her dress...and in Scotland Yard right before Alice and Frank stroll down a long hallway.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 »
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
some glitches and flaws, but mostly a smashing success, 18 August 2008
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

Alfred Hitchcock had directed nine silent films before Blackmail- all, I should add, before the age of 30- and while he was hesitant to make the transition to the "fad" known as synchronized sound, he took to it with enthusiasm and with the daring he'd been known already for by this time as one of Britain's most notable directors. In the case of Blackmail, the film works on both levels of silent and sound, but having now seen the sound version I'd be very curious to see the one that is totally silent. Because many scenes and sequences work perfectly, maybe better in that purely and spectacularly cinematic quality, in simple silent storytelling, and here and there it looks as if Hitchcock decided not to touch a thing with the syncing or re-shooting. One sequence that still sticks in my mind, and one that reminded me a little of Murnau, was when Alice is walking outside on the streets following the killing in the apartment, and she walks along with a look on her face that is staggering and sometimes with the bodies and faces merging together.

It's the kind of sequence, among others here, that display Hitchcock at the peak of his skills as a director in the silent-film mold, but what's ingenious about Blackmail is how he manages to make some scenes work great for one form and then for another, and occasionally merge the two. In telling the story of Alice (Anny Orda), a shopkeeper's daughter who abandons her date Frank for the evening to cozy up to a painter with a charming/creepy stare and who lures her up to his apartment, Hitchcock lays his touches on sometimes thick and seductively, and with some bits of dark humor (or light, as is his cameo on the bus). Aside from the actual killing scene, which is staged with a minimum of sound and with an astonishing amount of bravura acting from Orda afterward in the apartment, there's the scene where Mr. Crewe sings and plays on the piano and Alice gets dressed on the opposite side of the room/frame. This scene, which expresses the momentary joy of the sound of singing and music as well as the physical and facial expressions from Orda trying on the dress and hearing music, is without putting it too pretentiously that rare moment where silent and sound film merge in a kind of transitional poetry.

If it does sound a little like typical Hitchcock, don't fret; it's actually near *classic* Hitchcock, with the murder case being a little more delicate this time around and the instance of blackmail being a devilish twist as the provoker, played by an actor with a great despicable face and a eerie temperament and voice. Working from the play by Charles Bennett, the Master of Suspense is able to weave this possibly stagey affair into a string of tense close-ups and reactions, of dialog that seems to toy with the emotions of Alice and Frank (befuddling Alice's confused parents), and Hitchcock, apparently not happy with the play's third act, cuts to a wild chase scene as the climax that leads its low-life if innocent man through the British museum and all the way up to the roof for one of the first major chase scenes in a Hitchcock film.

While this climax nearly gets marred by the inter-cutting with Alice's close-up, and earlier on in the picture there's a jarring moment when the silent-movie feel for the first few minutes (i.e. the cops going into the man's room looking at the paper, the gun, etc) into sound, these are its only major liabilities. Throughout, there's a very firm grasp on making sure that sound and dialog isn't just something of a kitsch device or something silly (albeit I'm sure the singing and piano playing is inspired by the Jazz Singer) but meant to actually involve the viewer in the progression of events. It goes without saying, as mentioned, a good deal of this could be as compelling without dialog and with the occasional inter-title to fill in the blanks. But then one would also lose little moments that make Blackmail special, like when Alice is in her room taking off her clothes from the night before in a kind of purging moment and a bird is off chirping away in the room- metaphor, perhaps, but it at least works as another kind of 'pure' cinema.

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Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Blackmail (1929)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Where to find a Region 1 silent version of Blackmail? maestro7PL
Fingerprints ddaanntt
This movie should be more famous picasso2
Sound vs. silent ancientnut
Portrays the police as oppressive dave_wlogan
KNIFE! blablabla...KNIFE! blablabla...KNIFE!!! manferot
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