85 minutes 1929

Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 masterpiece, his last silent, follows the plight of a murderer caught between her blackmailer and her detective boyfriend. For all the experimental interest of the sound version that followed (the first full-length talkie released in England), this is more fluid and accomplished. Apart from two suspenseful set pieces—an attempted date rape in an artist's studio that ends with the murder of the artist-rapist, and a chase through the British Museum, Hitchcock's first giddy desecration of a national monument—what most impresses is the masterful movement back and forth between subjective and objective modes of storytelling, as well as the pungent uses of diverse London settings. As someone who's always preferred Lang's treatment of serial killers to Hitchcock's, I would opt for this thriller over the much better known The Lodger as Hitchcock's best silent picture, rivaled only by his less characteristic but formally inventive The Ring.

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