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Canberra Times (11/Oct/1929) - New English ''Talkie''



New English Talkie


"Blackmail" — the first British all talking film — was shown privately to an audience of experts and critics at the Regal Theatre, London.

"Blackmail" (says the London Daily Mail) is as far in advance of all other talking films which have hitherto been shown In London as a modern Charlie Chaplin comedy is of the custard pie farces of 1912. It is — very nearly — a great film. The qualification is necessary, not in virtue of its merits in comparison with other talking films, but because of its own standards. In this film for the first time intelligent use is made of sound: the noise has not been thrown in as an overweight to the action. The director, Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, has been known always as a master of expressive technique. He has succeeded in translating into vocal terms the doctrines of expressionism which the great Germans like Pabst and Lubitsch have exploited in pictorial values. It is superb entertainment and it is the first credible picture of London and its characteristic life which has yet appeared on the screen. London is, indeed, its leading lady. The story is taken from the stage play of the same name (and in its taking contrary to established practice, Mr. Hitchcock has transmuted a play which was almost entirely tedious into an exciting entertainment). A young woman makes friends in a West End cafe with an artist who persuades her to go to his studio. He attempts to seduce her. She stabs him and flies for home. One of the detectives who are investigating the crime finds her glove in the studio, but hides it. Unhappily the other glove has been found by a nondescript rat of a criminal, who tries to blackmail the pair of them. In the end the blackmailer is himself suspected by the police of the murder, and in flying from them he is killed by falling through the glass dome of the British Museum. The Investigation is closed by the Yard, and the detective and the girl walk out with their deadly secret. The cast is a brilliant one. Mr. Cyril Ritchard (who was in Williamson musical comedy in Australia) and Miss Sara Allgood (the original "Peg o' My Heart" in Australia) are both excellent. But in Mr. Donald Calthorp's performance as the blackmailer there is abundant proof that Britain is the potential leader of the world in talking-films. "Blackmail" will come as a shock to the American film magnates, who cannot conceive goodness in a film not created after their own image