Alfred Hitchcock's Blackmail is a landmark in British cinema. Released in June 1929, it was hailed as 'the first British all-talkie film.' Characteristically, Hitchcock makes flamboyant use of the new technical and aesthetic opportunities that sound offered. But the film was also released in a silent version, and to this day some critics consider this version a superior work. In his lucid and knowledgeable discussion, Tom Ryall covers both versions of the film. It is, he argues, both a considerable work of art in itself, and also one of the first to display those touches we now think of as typically Hitchcockian; a blonde heroine in jeopardy, a surprise killing, some brilliantly manipulated suspense, and a last-reel chase around a familiar public landmark (in this case the British Museum). There's also a cameo appearance by the director himself, as a harassed traveller on the London Underground.
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