1926                 Classic silent thriller

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      Alfred Hitchcock once called this the first true "Hitchcock movie". In addition to being the first in which he explored his favourite theme of the innocent in danger, it also marked Hitch's debut before the camera in one of those celebrated fleeting cameos.

      The action is based on a potboiling novel about Jack the Ripper and played with suitable extravagence by matinee idol Ivor Novello and a truly creepy cast.

      Clearly reflecting the influence of German Expressionism, it showcases Hitchcock's tehnical virtuosity.

      Having succeeded in preventing the release of Hitch's first features, Graham Cutts went to town on this one, convincing CM Woolf, head of W&F, that he had a disaster on his hands.

      The producer Michael Balcon had spent over 12,000 in the making of the film, and he saw Hitchcock himself as an investment that was about to be squandered. He delayed the trade preview till the following September, then contacted Ivor Montagu, a renowned film critic and respected editor. He asked him to help shape the film into a more commercial release and so Montagu, assisted by E McKnight Kauffer, reduced the number of title cards from 300 to 80 while Hitchcock went about performing minor reshoots.

      Though Hitchcock never referred to Montagu's contribution to the film, it undoubtedly saved his career.

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