Blackmail

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out says

Robinson is excellent as a fugitive from a chain gang, convicted of a crime he didn't commit, who nine years later has become a pillar of society with wife, child and enviable reputation as an oil-well troubleshooter. Lockhart is even better as the blackmailer, oozing sleazy, scalp-crawling bonhomie, who confesses that he committed the crime, plausibly claims to be anxious to set the record straight, and engineers a scam which puts Robinson back on the chain gang. Potter handles the sharply shifting moods very well: the authentic excitement of the oil-rig fire at the beginning; the ordinariness of the family background and the blackmailer's scenes; the dark, brooding brutality (mental as much as physical) of the chain gang sequences. Much of the film's edge is guaranteed by a fine script from David Hertz and William Ludwig, which cleverly paces its action to a parabola between two oil fires (the first a blaze of glory for Robinson, the second his season in hell). Pity about the totally duff upbeat ending.
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Release details

UK release:

1939

Duration:

81 mins

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