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The Camera LiesActing for Hitchcock$
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Dan Callahan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197515327

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197515327.001.0001

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(p.27) 4 Blackmail
The Camera Lies

Dan Callahan

Oxford University Press

Hitchcock’s first talking film, Blackmail (1929), presented the Master with a dilemma when it came to the performance of his lead actress, Anny Ondra. Blackmail had been shot first as a silent film, but when it was decided to do a sound version, Ondra’s thick Czech accent was judged unacceptable because she was playing the part of a working-class London girl. Hitchcock did not want to replace Ondra, and so he got the young British actress Joan Barry to read the lines for her off-camera as Ondra mimed to them. The result is often awkward, of course, but it also says something about the difference between what an actor is like as an image and what an actor is like when they speak.

Keywords:   blackmail, Anny Ondra, Joan Barry, Cyril Ritchard, Sara Allgood

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