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Hull Daily Mail (19/Nov/1929) - Blackmail




What a relief it is to hear English as it should be spoken, and not as it might be mis-spelt. Even the most insignificant character in this first homeland all-talkie might take the feature role of an English peer in an American production. Except for one or two Edgar Wallace thrillers, crime has hitherto ignored by those concerned with the making of films in this country, but "Blackmail" definitely puts Britain on the map in this direction, From first to last one is enthralled and in suspense; the familiar scenes and the perfect inflexions and pronunciation do much to enhance the standard of the entertainment. Alfred Hitchcock, the man who superintended the making of this film, proves that he is one to whom Britain may look to achieve her rightful place on the screens of the world. The opening scenes prepare the appropriate atmosphere without being especially relevant to later occurrences. They just show a typical day in the life of a Scotland Yard detective, with "shop" soon forgotten when the daily round is accomplished. The hero is a detective, the heroine his somewhat flighty girl. Her vagaries cause him to leave her to make up her mind on her own in a Lyon's Corner House and she promptly proceeds to prove the superficiality of her affection by going home with an artist friend. The latter forces his affections upon her, and is slain with a bread-knife for his pains, the remainder of the film being devoted in a most thrilling manner to the true lover's efforts to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds or bring the murderer to justice and conceal the guilt of the girl. His task is complicated by the inconvenient intervention of a gentleman with a criminal record, who knows of the girl's complicity but is not on too secure footing with the police himself. The ending is none the less satisfactory because it leaves one in doubt as to its ultimate intention. The blackmailers taking refuge in the British Museum leads to a thrilling climax. The excellent acting is enhanced by the cultured and perceptive rendering of the dialogue. John Longden, as the hero, Donald Calthrop, the blackmailer, and Cyril Ritchard, the artist, give portrayals which will undoubtedly lead to their continuance in British "talkies." Anny Ondra is ideally cast as the heroine.