Blackmail is an outstanding early film from director Alfred Hitchcock. I have to say that given what I've read about the quality of the print I was pleasantly surprised when this print had few scratches or patchy areas. The film works well in many ways. The acting is convincing; the casting was very well done; the plot moves along at a very good pace and there is a real thriller element to the chase scene just before the very end of the movie. It should also be noted that this was the first British "talkie" which alone gives this film historical significance.
When the action begins, Hitchcock and the writers set the tone for the movie by showing a police squad car racing through the streets of London, hot on the trial for a criminal who is found in a rather seedy neighborhood. After this the real story begins. Alice White (Anny Ondra) is sick and tired of always having to wait for her workaholic boyfriend Frank (John Longden) who is a detective at Britain's New Scotland Yard. Alice has also met an artist, Mr. Crewe (Cyril Ritchard) to whom she has taken a liking and they plan a rendezvous when Frank isn't around to find out about it.
Crewe talks Alice into coming up to his artist's studio; and it isn't long before he tries to forcibly have his way with her. In a desperate attempt to defend herself, Alice stabs Crewe with a knife and kills him. She then walks the streets of London throughout the entire night in a state of shock and horror over what she's done; and she decides to keep her it all a secret.
Unfortunately, Alice's secret doesn't remain a secret very long. Not only does Frank, her boyfriend, recognize Alice's glove at the scene of the crime; there's yet another shady character, Tracy (Donald Calthrop), who has the other glove of Alice's--and he wants money as he blackmails Alice and then both Alice and Frank to keep his silence about his knowledge of her crime. The entire affair is blown wide open when Frank's police squad arrives and Tracy himself now has to run to avoid being blamed for the murder. The chase sequence is excellent! The plot ends in some interesting ways with a few quick twists to keep you in suspense until the very last minute; and the final impression is quite interesting because it shows a resolution on more than one level.
Blackmail is an incredibly powerful, memorable film, brilliantly done even though Hitchcock was still a comparatively new director doing his first picture with sound. I highly recommend it, especially for Hitchcock fans and film buffs interested in early "talkies." You won't be disappointed!