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Blackmail (1929)

Not Rated | | Crime, Thriller | 6 October 1929 (USA)
After killing a man in self-defense, a young woman is blackmailed by a witness to the killing.


Alfred Hitchcock


Charles Bennett (from the play by), Alfred Hitchcock (adapted by) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
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 Harvey Braban ... The Chief Inspector (sound version)
Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop ... The Detective Sergeant (as Ex-Det. Sergt. Bishop - Late C.I.D. Scotland Yard)


Alice White is the daughter of a shopkeeper in 1920s 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 <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


See and Hear It - Our Mother Tongue As It Should Be Spoken See more »


Crime | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


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 movie. See more »


When the Artist helps Alice fasten the ballerina outfit, the position of the sleeve on her shoulder changes between shots. See more »


[first lines]
Det. Frank Webber: Well, we finished earlier tonight than I expected.
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Alternate Versions

Originally filmed as a silent movie, running 75 minutes; Hitchcock later added newly shot scenes and had other existing footage dubbed to create a talkie version, running 86 minutes. See more »


The Best Things in Life Are Free
(1927) (uncredited)
Written by Buddy G. DeSylva Lew Brown and Ray Henderson
Whistled by Donald Calthrop
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User Reviews

Unquestionably Hitchcock
29 March 2009 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Britain's first talkie, the 1929 "Blackmail," is directed by Alfred Hitchock, and even back then, it has many of his touches. The stars are Anny Ondra, Cyril Ritchard, John Longden, and Sara Allgood.

A young woman (Ondra) two-times her Scotland Yard inspector boyfriend (Longden) and goes out with an artist (Ritchard). Things get rough in his apartment, and he forces himself on her. She kills him (a la Dial M for Murder). Her boyfriend finds her glove in the apartment and realizes she did it; the other glove was found by a criminal hanging around the artist's apartment building, and he decides to blackmail the inspector.

Hitchcock more than appears in this film; he has a bit with a little boy on a subway. The film is strange in that the beginning is silent with no title cards. Then suddenly, there is sound. It moves quite slowly, with not much in the way of action. The story builds slowly, and the scene in the artist's apartment is quite long before anything happens.

Nevertheless, the Hitchcock touches are there. A pivotal scene happens at the British Museum - Hitchcock's upheaval in familiar places. And in the jail scene, there's a sound the director often described as being terrifying in his childhood when his father had the local police teach him a lesson - the jail door closing.

The very pretty Ondra, wife of boxer Max Schmelling, is dubbed here. Ritchard in 1929 is not recognizable as Captain Hook.

Worth seeing - it's early Hitchcock and it's an 80-year-old movie. Mind-boggling.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

6 October 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blackmail See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (2012 restoration) (silent)

Sound Mix:

Mono (R.C.A. Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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