Saturday, October 05, 2013

[Anny Ondra Sound Test for Blackmail]

Anny Ondráková (Anny Ondra). From Národní filmový archiv, Praha.
[ANNY ONDRA SOUND TEST FOR BLACKMAIL] [Provino sonoro a Anny Ondra per Blackmail] (British International Pictures, GB 1929) D: Alfred Hitchcock; C: Alfred Hitchcock, Anny Ondra; 35 mm, 63 ft., 42" (24 fps), sound; print  source: BFI National Archive, London. English dialogue. Viewed at Teatro Verdi (Pordenone, Le Giornate del Cinema Muto), 5 Oct 2013.

David Robinson: "Blackmail was begun as a silent film, but partway through production the company decided to make a section with sound. Hitchcock responded by enthusiastically  using sound for almost the entire picture, which was eventually released in both silent and sound versions. Anny Ondra had previously worked  successfully with Hitchcock on The Manxman, but now her marked  accent presented  a problem,  as this sound test shows. Hitchcock’s  solution – in an era before post-synching – was to have  the English  actress  Joan Barry record the lines as  Ondra mouthed them. The test exposes Hitchcock’s notorious  technique of testing actresses with challenging and in this case somewhat suggestive dialogue." – David Robinson (The GCM Catalog)

AA: This Anny Ondra sound test was screened several times during the festival. Anny Ondra had already starred for Hitchcock in a soulful performance in The Manxman. In this sound test Hitchcock is in his practical joker mode, doing his best to chide, tease and provoke Anny Ondra, who reacts with a mixture of embarrassment and fun. In less than a minute we get a sense of something characteristic of the spirit and the sense of humour of both Hitch and Anny.

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