Alfred Hitchcock Conducts a Politically Incorrect Sound Test on the Set of Blackmail (1929)

Above we have a young Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Blackmail (1929), conducting a rather naughty sound test with actress Anny Ondra (1929).

In case you don’t know the backstory, Blackmail was originally meant to be a silent film. However, with talkies becoming the rage, Hitchcock decided mid-stream to make the film a talkie. That decision didn’t come without its own problems. Anny Ondra, a Czech actress, spoke English with a heavy accent and couldn’t pass as a Londoner in the film. So Hitchcock performed some cinema magic and had English actress Joan Barry dub Ondra’s lines. In those days, dubbing couldn’t take place in post-production. It all had to happen in real-time. Thus, as the camera rolled, Barry stood outside the frame and spoke the dialogue into a microphone, while Ondra pantomimed the words. Throughout, Hitchcock directed Ondra while listening to Barry through a pair of headphones.

hitch with hair

You can watch Blackmail (Britain’s first talkie feature film) online here or find it in our collection of 23 Free Hitchcock Films Online.

Related Content:

37 Hitchcock Cameo Appearances Over 50 Years: All in One Video

Listen to François Truffaut’s Big, 12-Hour Interview with Alfred Hitchcock (1962)

The Pleasure Garden, Alfred Hitchcock’s Very First Feature Film (1925)


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