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Blackmail PG rating

Alfred Hitchcock's first sound film sees a young woman blackmailed for a murder she was forced to commit.

Police drama 1929 82 mins Silent

Director: Alfred Hitchcock



A grocer's daughter kills a man who tries to sexually assault her. Her boyfriend, a policeman, attempts to cover up the murder. However, a small-time crook witnessed the act and threatens to blackmail the couple. Only Hitchcock's second crime film, Blackmail would sow the seeds for many of his masterpieces to come, including Vertigo (1958) and Psycho (1960).

Blackmail holds additional historical importance for being Britain's, as well as Hitchcock's, first feature-length sound film. Originally intended as a silent film, its producers asked Hitchcock to experiment with adding a sound finale (as adopted in The Jazz Singer [1927]). But the director surreptitiously shot the entire film in sound, re-shooting his dialogue scenes and famously enlisting Joan Barry to speak Anny Ondra's lines as she mouthed them, to mask Ondra's thick Czech accent. Blackmail was adapted by Charles Bennett from one of his own plays, in the first of a string of collaborations with Hitchcock during his early sound period.