Blackmail (1929)

Dir. Alfred Hitchcock

A decent pick for the 1001 book. On one level we get to see early Hitchcock (and his abilities are already on display) and, on another, this is a pretty effective film. Other idiots would find this enjoyable and worth-watching, but it’s not something you would really run out to see.

The film is about Alice and her Scotland yard boyfriend Frank. After a spat, Alice meets an artist. What does the blackmail entail? Well, I’ll leave that part of it out.

The first five minutes of the film are essentially without sound. According to the 1001 book the film was supposed to be a silent picture, but, mid-way through, they decided to add sound. I mention the first five minutes because it’s good. There are no title cards, but you know exactly what’s going on; the acting didn’t seem so dramatic and pronounced like you see in other silent films, too.

Since this is a Hitchcock film, you have to be thinking if the suspense worked. Imo, it did, to the very end, although I felt the ending was ambiguous. On one hand, Hitchcocok may have intended that. Is Alice comfortable with pinning her act of murder on Tracy? It’s hard to say, but I don’t know if I could live with that. Donald Calthrop as Tracy is good at playing a slime-ball. Audiences must have felt satisfied with his end. The acting was decent all-around.

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