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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Blackmail (1929)



Reviews and Comments

Only the second of Hitchcock's characteristic thrillers, Blackmail is a wonderful achievement, tense throughout and peppered with ingenious cinematic flourishes. With his silent films, Hitchcock had been experimenting with creative visuals -- shots which not only look good but advance the story in a unique way. Those are in evidence here, particularly with some eerie track-in shots, but what's fascinating is how skillful this film's use of sound is, particularly since this was only England's very first sound film. Consider a moment when the camera moves in close on star Anny Ondra's face. Her character is tormented by the events of the preceding evening, which resulted in someone being stabbed to death. As she listens to others conversing unwittingly, the word "knife" rings louder and louder, while all the other words fade to an indistinct murmur.