Sunday, September 4, 2011

44. Blackmail


Man, we are so freaking close to the end of the 20s.  I am getting so pumped! I had seen this movie already because Alfred Hitchcock is my second favorite director (after Woody Allen).  I know it is a tad cliche but his ability to terrify people (namely me after watching Psycho) after 50 years is incredible!  This film also is a talkie which is like my dream come true!

So Anny Ondra (one of the first of Hitchcock's blonde damsels) is almost raped by an artist and stabs him in self-defense.  Gee, what do you think happens next?  You guessed it, she is blackmailed!  That is as far as I want to go without ruining anything.

This was a great movie, and no, not just because I am desperate for sound.  Hitchcock always picks great actors (most notably Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant) and this film is no exception.  You have probably heard of the famous "knife, knife, knife" scene (fantastic!) and if you haven't, I will let you discover it by yourself.  Now I think I have seen all the Hitchcocks in the book, and this definitely isn't my favorite.  Still, better than most movies we have seen so far.

RATING:  ****-

Interesting Facts:

First British talkie.

Anny Ondra was dubbed over because she couldn't speak English very well.

The first five minutes are silent so don't think that there is something wrong with your movie.

Hitchcock cast a shadow over the villian's face in one shot to make it look like he had a bushy moustache like in old silent movies.  He called it his farewell to silent pictures.  I feel like I have to say goodbye soon and it is 2011.  This book is messing me up!

Hitchcock Radar: He is on the underground!

Was filmed at first as a silent movie but was later changed to have sound after the success of The Jazz Singer.

Michael Powell claims to have given Hitchcock the idea to film chase scenes at famous landmarks.  I highly doubt this.  Powell really just sucks as a person and a director.

Available on YouTube and Netflix Instant:


  1. Did you see The Manxman? It is from the same period and I think better than Blackmail.

    1. No! You are giving me so many good recommendations!

  2. I liked that sound was such a new feature and whilst most other directors were trying to work out how to use it or even if it was a passing fad they should ignore (ha!), Hitchcock is already innovating with the "knife...knife..." scene well beyond what most others are doing nearly a hundred years later.

    1. Yeah I had kind of resigned myself to not really enjoying the early movies but appreciating them. This one I actually really liked.