NOTE: This post is a review of a Hitchcock film that was seen projected on 35mm at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN, as part of their Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense Series. These movies were not watched on DVD, but in a theater, projected on film.
Most average American's don't realize the fact that Alfred Hitchcock's career began in the silent cinema in England. The Belcourt showed two of his early sound films, Blackmail and Murder!. Both are fairly simple stories, Blackmail is about a woman who accidentally murders a man who is trying to take advantage of her. She runs from the scene, but not without a panhandler seeing her. She thinks she may have gotten away with it, with the help of her Scotland Yard detective boyfriend, but soon enough, the panhandler reappears, and he wants compensation to keep his mouth shut. Murder! feels like it may have been a partial inspiration for Twelve Angry Men. A woman is found murdered, most likely by the hand of her dazed and confused roommate. Even though he caves to the pressure, and votes her guilty, one of the members of the jury believes her to be innocent, and sets out on a quest to prove it.
I'm not a huge fan of pre-war filmmaking. I know that's sacrilege, but the era these are from is especially awful because, with the advent of sound technology, filmmakers literally had to redefine the way they made films. Everything seems clunky about them - the dialogue, the acting, the way that they're edited together. Both of them have good moments, but, as a whole, are a little difficult to watch.