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Blackmail (1939)

Passed  -  Crime | Drama | Thriller  -  8 September 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 276 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

John Ingram, successful oil-field firefighter, is really a chain-gang escapee. Someone out of his past finds him...



(screen play), (screen play), 4 more credits »
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Title: Blackmail (1939)

Blackmail (1939) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Complete credited cast:
William Ramey
Bobs Watson ...
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ...
Moose McCarthy (as Guinn Williams)
John Wray ...
Arthur Hohl ...
Esther Dale ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lew Harvey ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Mitchell Lewis ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Louis Natheaux ...
(scenes deleted)
Ted Oliver ...
Workman (scenes deleted)
Lee Phelps ...
Guard (scenes deleted)


John Ingram of Oklahoma has a loving family, loves his work fighting oil fires, and is good at it. But 9 years ago, under another name he escaped from a Southern chain gang. Enter William Ramey, a "friend" from John's past, who gradually works up to a blackmail attempt under a promise to get Ingram cleared...but instead has him sent back to the old chain gang. Though determined to tough it out this time, circumstances compel Ingram to attempt another escape... Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

chain gang | fire | oil | oklahoma | blackmail | See more »


Robinson at his tip-top best! Daring death in untameable oil-field fires...seeking vengeance in a flaming inferno...for a woman who gave him his one glimpse of heaven! See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 September 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blackmail  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Featured in From the Ends of the Earth (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Great start, great end - boring middle.
11 January 2000 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

This film starts with a bang - literally. It also ends with a bang. You see Edward G is an oil-fire fighter in Oklahoma - and he's doing really well. Great job (if a little dangerous), great house, great wife, great kid. Trouble is he is actually a fugitive from a chain gang - and his past is about to catch up with him. A shame it does really because the scenes of Eddy walking fearlessly into fire-balls are unforgettable. A story about the lives of oil-fire-fighters would have been a lot more interesting than the rather dull blackmail leading to a return to chain gang stuff. The chain gang scenes never live up to those of the masterpiece "I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang" - but I wouldn't be surprised if Hitler got a few ideas on his slave labor camps from this film. Were the chain gangs of the thirties really this brutal? If so there were a few "war criminals" in the Southern USA.

Anyway the film drifts back to oil fires at the end - and the climax is really spectacular. It is enhanced by Ed's magnificent performance, and an unforgettable snivelling evil performance from Gene Lockhart. Both rise above the ordinary material. Also impressive is Guinn Williams, but the very talented Ruth Hussey is given little to do but look worried, and Bobs Watson is VILE as the cry-baby son. All in all good MGM entertainment, with some great sequences.

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