Blackmail ★★★½

After an argument with her boyfriend, Police Detective John Longden, Anny Ondra walks home with artist Cyril Ritchard. Ondra goes up to Ritchard’s apartment, (to see his paintings!). He attempts to rape her, and she stabs him in self defense. Suffering from shock and horror, Ondra goes home without reporting the killing. The next day, Longden, investigating the murder, finds Ondra’s glove and realizes that she is the killer, but he does not report her.

At her home, Ondra and Longden are discussing the situation when local street person Donald Calthrop intervenes and announces that he knows that Ondra killed Ritchard. Calthrop demands money for his silence. Longden and Ondra give Calthrop food and money and seem destined to pay him never-ending blackmail.

However, the police have learned that Calthrop was in the area at the time of the murder and are searching for him. To protect Ondra, Longden threatens to implicate Calthrop. As the police arrive, the frightened Calthrop flees. The police pursue him into the British Museum where Calthrop climbs onto a platform under the glass dome. As he starts to accuse Ondra of the murder, he stumbles and falls to his death through the dome.

Meanwhile, Ondra goes to police headquarters and is about to confess. Before she can implicate herself, Longden arrives and takes her away. The death of Calthrop has put Ondra into the clear.

Alfred Hitchcock’s first talkie is suspenseful and entertaining despite the obvious difficulties of filming with the primitive early sound equipment. The performances are good. Ondra had a heavy accent; she mouthed the words, and her lines were recorded by an English actress. However, Ondra’s facial expressions are very effective in conveying her emotions, from annoyance and playfulness to shock, confusion, and fear. The pursuit of Calthrop in the British Museum is an early example of the chase sequence included in many Hitchcock films.