Considering the technical limitations confronting Hitchcock (the part-sound/part-silent format; the bulky, graceless early sound camera; a leading lady who barely spoke English, etc.), "Blackmail" remains one of the director's most impressive productions. The visual and sound quality is excellent, especially for a 1929 film, and already Hitchcock is using distinctive camera angles to create memorable effects. (Notice the shadowy interior of the Artist's loft, and the way Hitchcock swoops the camera about to convey Alice's disorientation after the murder.) I also love the way Hitchcock depicts the Blackmailer's flight after his climactic confrontation with Alice and the Detective. We never see the Blackmailer at all - the camera remains frozen on the face of the Detective, who reacts to what is going on. At the moment the Blackmailer shatters the window, the Detective lets out a shout, and the camera - as if startled by the commotion - dollies backward. We immediately cut to the busted window, with a posse of lawmen rushing toward it. It's a wonderful device (what other director in 1929 would have approached the scene in this way, I wonder?). The performances in "Blackmail" are remarkable and eccentric, in the best sense of the word. Donald Calthrop and Cyril Ritchard, playing the disheveled blackmailer and the lecherous artist, etch themselves in your memory. Anny Ondra is fine as Alice, gamely committing herself to the role, even though she was pantomiming lines. Her dazed reactions at the climax of the murder sequence are shocking. She's like a demented robot, yet the behavior rings true for me. Lastly, let me say I admire John Longden's performance most of all. His role as Frank, the detective, is in no sense that of a traditional film hero. He often bullies Alice, turns moody and childish during arguments and is willing to pin murder on an innocent (albeit not very nice) man. Longden realizes all the not very appealing attributes of Frank's behavior (how he sneers when the tables finally turn on Calthrop), but he also makes clear that he loves Alice and is trying to protect her. He is clearly devastated as he talks with Alice in the phone booth and realizes she is indeed guilty. In summary, few of Hitchcock's 1930 British films are on a par with "Blackmail." The depth of its characterizations will remain unmatched until "Rebecca" a decade later. Reflect on how "Blackmail" compares - technically - with America's first sound film and you start to see the true measure of Hitchcock's genius.