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Blackmail (1929) Poster

(1929)

Trivia

As Tracy (Donald Calthrop) sits eating some food which he has just gained in a first minor act of blackmail, he sits humming the tune "The Best Things in Life are Free".
Jump to: Director Cameo (1)
The light levels in the British Museum were insufficient to allow Hitchcock to film the final chase scene in the museum. Without informing the producer, Alfred Hitchcock used the Schufftan process (developed by German cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan). This involved taking still photos of the interior of the museum, then reflecting the photos in a mirror with certain parts of the silvering of the mirror scraped away to allow people (entering a door, for example) to be filmed through the mirror so that they appeared to be present in the museum (in later years, American development of traveling matte and other process photography methods largely replaced the Shufftan process).
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".
Much of the film was originally shot silent; when sound became available during the course of shooting, director Alfred Hitchcock re-shot certain scenes with sound, thus making it the Master of Suspense's first talkie. There was one complication with this change, however. Leading lady Anny Ondra had a thick German accent which was inappropriate to her character, Alice White. Joan Barry was chosen to provide a different voice for her, but post-production dubbing technology did not exist then. The solution was for Barry to stand just out of shot and read Alice's lines into a microphone as Ondry mouthed them in front of the camera. This is generally acknowledged as the first instance of one actor's voice being dubbed by another, even though the word "dub" is technologically inappropriate in this case.
With The Jazz Singer (1927) doing spectacular business, the producers decided that the last reel of this predominantly silent film should have sound. Alfred Hitchcock thought that this was an absurd idea and so he secretly filmed the whole thing with sound.
Michael Powell claims to have suggested the use of The British Museum as the location for the final pursuit, thus beginning Alfred Hitchcock's use of famous landmarks in his "chase" films.
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.
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.
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
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.
Alfred Hitchcock filmed the silent version with Sam Livesey as the Chief Inspector, but when filming the sound version replaced Livesey with Harvey Braban.
Generally acknowledged as the first British talkie, and definitely the first sound-on-film British talkie. The Clue of the New Pin (1929), was released in March 1929 in the British Phototone system, a sound-on-disc system using 12-inch phonograph records synchronized with the film.
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Director Cameo 

Alfred Hitchcock:  being bothered by a small boy on the underground.

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