For Darkness Shows the Stars

darknessshowsthestars

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars #1) by Diana Peterfreund

So I picked this book up as you know I will review anything Austen. I thought it was going to be about Pride and Prejudice as most are, but it surprised me and was about Persuasion instead.

persuasion

Persuasion was published in 1818 after Austen’s death, alongside Northanger Abbey. Out of all the Austen works, these two seem to have the least amount of fans and notice.

It is sad they don’t have more.

I have always found that strange as I love both of these novels.

Even though it isn’t as loved by people, Persuasion has had two films made of it and a lot of it is based on Austen’s feelings of her first love and a wish fulfillment of being reunited.

Anyways, just in case you’ve never heard of it (and as I have yet to work through it as I am still stuck on Emma) I think we need a quick review.

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Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth fall in love. He asks her for her hand in marriage, but Anne’s father refuses. Anne is unsure and goes to a family friend for advice; as her mother is dead, her father lives in his own world, and her sisters don’t care. This family friend persuades her to say no as Anne is above him in station, Fredrick has no options for promotion (as his family can’t procure it), the likelihood of him dying and living Anne a penniless widow (as her father will leave her nothing) is very high, and the two are so young.

Hmm…

Anne goes to Fredrick and refuses, him becoming angry as he thinks it is just because of his lack of money and station. (In Anne’s defense the real thing that made her unsure was the stressing of him most likely being killed and her being left alone.)

Years pass, Anne has never seen Fredrick again or stopped loving him. She had other men interested, but refused them as she didn’t love them.

What has changed is the Elliot family fortune, her father and older sister have blown through their money so fast that they are being forced to let out their home to a sea Admiral. A Captain Admiral Croft and his wife, Mrs. Croft. Mrs. Croft who turns out to be Fredrick Wentworth’s sister!

Anne goes to stay with her sister, Mary Musgrove, for a while, while her other sister and father are staying in Bath, with Anne to join them later.

When she is staying with Mary, Fredrick Wentworth returns to visit his sister and husband. Now a Captain, he has also become extremely wealthy; having taken so many risks in the war that he excelled monetarily and was promoted. Captain Wentworth is searching for a wife, and is funny and kind to all; but Anne.

It appears that old hangups remain so. Will Wentworth and Anne be reunited? Will Wentworth marry another?

You have to read the book!

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So this science-fiction/Fantasy book takes place in the not too distant future…

Sorry, anyways…there were advancements in technology, so much that they were able to do DNA procedures to make your body excel in ways previously unimaginable, almost cyborg like.

These DNA procedures cause a war between people who believe this is not what God wants, and those who believe that the pursuit of science is the only answer. Unfortunately, they discover they did not know everything, as many of these experiments go wrong as people lose a majority of their faculties.

After wars, bombing, and a complete restructuring of the world they know, the people are divided into two groups: Luddites and the Reduced.

Like the class system in Metropolis.

Luddites are the royalty and own all the land, they care for the Reduced in a feudal system/slave system as the Reduced are tied to the land, but more extensively like slaves, yet not traded and sold as slaves are. Reduced are mutes, who aren’t in complete control of their faculties, need to be supervised, etc.

Recently, things have been shifting as there are “Reduced” who are born very intelligent, able to speak, often called “Children of the Reduced” or “CORs”, and “Post-Reduced” or “Posts” by themselves.

Our main character is Elliot North (Anne Elliot) a wealthy Luddite, one of the oldest Luddite families. She, her father, and sister have a farm; but it is going downhill as her father and sister don’t care about the people, the farm, long term care, but only themselves and what they want. For instance her father has cut down all their apple trees for a “better view” or destroyed Elliot’s planted field for a racetrack.

Elliot tries hard to keep things running, to take her mother’s place, but finds herself drowning in the debt her father and sister, Tatiana North, create. In fact, they have had to rent out her grandfather’s, Chancellor Boatwright, home and ship yard to a set of wealthy free Posts- Admiral Innovation, his wife Dr. Felicia Innovation and their crew: Captain Malakai Wentforth, Andromeda Phoenix, and Donovan Phoenix.

Not good

Elliot’s only solace is the barn, where she would work on her plans, and relive her memories with her old friend, the boy she loved, and Post; Kai. Since she has lost her field and all her months of hard work, nothing seems right. But there is plenty to do on a farm.

When the Innovations and their crew arrive, Elliot finds herself admiring and enjoying the company of the Innovations and the crewman Donovan. Andromeda doesn’t seem to like her one bit, although Elliot has no clue what she could have done to upset her. However, everything changes when she meets Captain Malakai Wentforth. It appears it is her old friend and love has returned-Kai (Captain Fredrick Wentworth).

Years ago the two forged a friendship, (despite her father’s constant striving to keep them apart), a friendship that turned into love. The two made plans to run away together, but in the end Elliot couldn’t do it. She knew she had to fulfill her promise to her mother and take care of the farm and the Posts. She wrote Kai a letter:

Dear Kai,

Please do not hate me. I couldn’t bear it if you hated me.

                      But I cannot go with you.

                      I thought I could. Last night, I thought everything was possible. I thought you were right, that there was nothing for me here, either. Mother’s dead, Grandfather’s locked in his own head, and you’re leaving. Why in the world should I stay? It was a beautiful dream. But outside your room, outside the barn, in the cold light of morning, I realized that was all it was. A dream. There is nothing for me here, but that doesn’t mean I am nothing to the North estate.

                     Today, when I was supposed to be packing, I wandered the estate. I watched the Posts in their little cottages, I watched the Reduced in the fields, and I thought about our lots in life.

                    We can’t escape who we are born to be, Kai. The Reduced are Reduced. They will always be Reduced. And I will always be a Luddite. I was born this way. I will die this way. I can’t turn my back on that. Luddites were handed a sacred trust-we are the caretakers of humanity. Without us, the world would have burned, and all mankind would have been destroyed. I cannot ignore that. I cannot forget who I am.

                    But you are not a Luddite.

                    That’s why I cannot go with you. And also why I can’t ask you to stay.

                     God be with you.

Yours,

Elliot

 Elliot’s feelings for Kai resurface but he wants nothing to do with her.

He is rude, cruel, cynical, and nasty around her. He spends a lot of time with their neighbors, the Groves-Horatio and his younger sister Olivia. Olivia has fallen for Kai, and to Elliot’s utter disappointment it looks like he feels the same way.

Noooo!

But Elliot cannot focus on that only as her long lost cousin, Benedict and air to the North estate, returns eager to regain control of the promised land, her grandfather grows more ill, and her father tries to engage her in even more power plays.

During one of her free moments, she joins Andromeda, Kai, Donovan, Olivia, and Horatio on an outing to the sea cliffs. Kai and Donovan jump from incredible distances, and Andromeda explains that they recognize the wind shifts because of their piloting expertise. As they continue, Elliot realizes something is not right.

When Olivia tries to do the jump, she falls and is horribly injured. While they try and help her, Elliot realizes that Kai is hiding a big secret, one that could destroy everything.

Not good

Once again Eliot finds herself at a fork in the road. Should she follow the man she loves? Or cling to her Luddite responsibilities.

***Spoiler Warning***

I thought it was pretty good story and interpretation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Having Wentworth as a slave/serf rather than lower standing put a completely new spin on the relationship.

I liked how in between the time of the novel, there were letters and notes their younger selves passed, giving us a view of how their relationship started.

Aw!

It doesn’t follow the book exactly, but the author did a good job in staying true to the core of the story, while at the same time doing her own thing.

Good job!

Now there are two things I didn’t like.

First, I didn’t like how the author inserted God to create conflict between those who wanted change and mutation and those who wanted things to remain the same. The insertion wasn’t really what bothered me as much as the author not really giving us a stand on how our main character felt. One of the laws is to not try to play with genetics as you are raising yourself for a a fall, messing with things you shouldn’t control, etc. As much as the main character struggles with her ideas and wondering if they are against God, we never see what her relationship to God is. Is she extremely devout? Who or What is her God? What exactly do they believe in their religion? She brings it up constantly, but we never really know why this is such an issue to her because the author chooses to ignore it. We never see her pray, attend church, do any type of worship, etc. In my opinion you either need to go all the way or just leave it out; no in-between.

The second thing that bothered me was how mean Kai was in this. I mean he was horribly cruel. Now in Persuasion she doesn’t really explain herself as to way she refuses him, so he draws his own conclusions. I this Kai knows! He knows that she needs to help care for the people! He knows how her father and sister are, and without Elliot they would be cruel, starve everyone, and run the whole farm down into the groumd! Yet even though he knows this, he is so horrible to her. I understand why the author made him that way, and it completely makes sense as to character to behave in such a way. But it makes it hard to read as he acts like a jerk, before he finally comes to his senses.

But otherwise I thought it was an excellent read and one of the better Austen reinterpretations on the market. I suggest you check it out for yourself.

For more on Persuasion, go to What Would Jane Do?: Quips and Wisdom from Jane Austen

For more Persuasion variations, go to Captain Wentworth’s Diary

For more books based on Jane Austen, go to Suspense & Sensibility (Or First Impressions Revisited)

The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)

Dial M For Murder

Do you really believe in the perfect murder? Mmm, yes, absolutely.

So after years of his absence from my Horrorfest countdowns, I have finally included Alfred Hitchcock in not one, not two, but three posts.

Double double yay

Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director. He was influential in creating new ways of filming psychological thrillers, he is often credited for creating the true horror genre/slasher film with Psycho (1960), and was just a pure cinematic genius. He is just amazing.

Awesome

Dial “M” For Murder is one of his highly known films (although not as known as Vertigo or Psycho). It has been referenced or parodied in countless films and TV shows. In the ’90s they even remade the film under the title A Perfect Murder. It starred Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Viggo Mortenson; but it wasn’t nearly as good.

MeanGirls I know right!

This film also started Hitchcock’s filming relationship with Grace Kelly. This film was crucial in her career as it made her stand out not only to Alfred Hitchcock but other directors as well, a huge step to becoming a permanent leading lady. After this film she starred in Hitchcock’s Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Hitchcock was impressed with her ideas and thoughts on the script in how a woman would act (especially regarding clothing), that after this film he allowed her to make all her own wardrobe decisions. She, like Audrey Hepburn,  quickly became known for her style and class. But that wasn’t the only thing that Hitchcock found attractive, he really liked her and fell for her; but she wouldn’t give him the time of day, (romantically that is). (For more information on Hitchcock and his leading ladies, I strongly suggest the book Spellbound by Beauty by Donald Spoto. It’s an amazing read!) And sadly she had to retire from acting at an early age as she married the Prince of Monaco. However short a career, it was an amazing one.

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This film also reunited Hitchcock and Robert Cummings, who had starred in an earlier film, Saboteur (1942).  In this film Cummings plays an important role, but a smaller one than his earlier collaboration.

This film is also the only Hitchcock film to ever be shot in 3-D. In the 1950s, 3-D was super popular, so popular that some people came up with the idea of Smell-O-Vision to beat it (I’m serious!). Hitchcock didn’t want to shoot in 3-D, but until the late 1960s, studios had a lot more pull and Warner Bros. wanted it. Hitchcock obliged, although it did cause a few issues for him as he had to rework his known style to incorporate what 3-D was able to accomplish at the time.

So the film is based on the play of the same name Frederick Knott, and he also helped write the screenplay. It is set in England and as  you can guess from the poster, the phone plays a huge role in this film as well. That really seems to be a theme this month. I swear that wasn’t planned.

Oops!

Oops!

Well here we go!

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So before I start the film, let me give you the background on the characters. Now as you watch the film things are revealed to you, but it’s easier for me to give them at the start.

So we have a couple, Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) and his wife Margot (Grace Kelly). Tony was a huge tennis star and met Margot when he was competing. She comes from a very wealthy family. The two were married and Margot convinced him to give up competing as she didn’t like him being away. He complied and now sells sports equipment. However, as he no longer is the dashing tennis star, she lost interest in him and had an affair with Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings) an American Crime writer.

keanu Whoa

As the film starts out we have Margot and Mark in a very cozy embrace.

BMW Kiss

“Margot Mary Wendice: Let me get you another drink. Mark, before Tony comes I ought to explain something.

Mark Halliday: Yes, I’ve been waiting for that.

Margot Mary Wendice: I haven’t told him anything about us.”

Margot tells Mark that she burned all his letters, except one. That one was stolen by a blackmailer who demanded payment, but he never picked up the money or returned the letter. She is worried that her husband will find out.

Mark has a completely different reaction to the news.

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He wants them to tell Tony all about the affair so that Margot can get a divorce and the two can marry. Margot doesn’t want to as “she feels bad” about hurting “Tony’s feelings”.

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Now I’m no expert, but if the person doesn’t want to break up the relationship, it seems to me that they want, to quote an old cliché, “have their cake and eat it too.” I think Margot likes the respectability of her marriage and doesn’t want the divorce scandel, but at the same time is heavily intrigued by Mark. And who can blame her? Robert Cummings is a looker.

Saboteur

Photo from Saboteur

That night Tony is introduced to Mark, him being Margot’s “friend”. The two discuss Mark’s profession.

Tony Wendice: How do you go about writing a detective story?

Mark Halliday: Well, you forget detection and concentrate on crime. Crime’s the thing. And then you imagine you’re going to steal something or murder somebody.

Tony Wendice: Oh, is that how you do it? It’s interesting.

Mark Halliday: Yes, I usually put myself in the criminal’s shoes and then I keep asking myself, uh, what do I do next?

Margot Mary Wendice: Do you really believe in the perfect murder?

Mark Halliday: Mmm, yes, absolutely. On paper, that is. And I think I could, uh, plan one better than most people; but I doubt if I could carry it out.

Tony Wendice: Oh? Why not?

Mark Halliday: Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always.

Tony Wendice: Hmm.

Mark Halliday: No, I’m afraid my murders would be something like my bridge: I’d make some stupid mistake and never realize it until I found everybody was looking at me.”

Tony invites Mark to join him for a tennis party, and Mark agrees. Its all men, so Margot will be staying home. After a bit more pleasantries Margot and Mark leave to go out “as friends” to a theatre show that Tony didn’t want to see, while Tony stays home to “work” on some stuff.

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After they leave, he calls up an old friend. Swann (going by the name Captain Lesgate) from his old Cambridge days. He brings him there under false pretenses of wanting to purchase a vehicle from him. He then tells Swann that he wants him to murder his wife.

Say What

“Tony Wendice: One thousand pounds in cash.

C.A. Swann: For a murder?

Tony Wendice: For a few minutes work, that’s all it is. And no risk, I guarantee.”

Tony then goes on to tell Swann a story.

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Tony only married Margot for her money, and it really injures his pride to see her cheating on him and tossing him over like an old shoe. He followed her one day and discovered the affair.

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He wanted to kill Mark.

dialMforMurder Killer Hate

He then moved to the idea of murdering his wife. But things changed…

“Tony Wendice: It’s funny to think that just a year ago, I sat in that Knightsbridge Pub actually planning to murder her. And I might have done it, if I hadn’t seen something that changed my mind.

C.A. Swann: Well? What did you see?

Tony Wendice: I saw you.”

Back in the day, Swann was always getting into trouble for all kinds of stuff, and it struck Tony that he could commit the perfect murder. He then began extensive planning. He has been collecting £1000 over the year, under the guise of racetrack betting, etc.; compiling the money for such a purpose.

He even went to great lengths to get one of the letters from Mark and pretended to blackmail her. With Mark back in town he has set up the whole scenario on how to murder her even planning to use Mark as an alibi, as being the husband he will be the first suspect. All he needs is someone to do it for him. He has a lot of information on Swann’s background (as he has been tracking him) and uses it to blackmail him into completing his murderous plot. And he has to do it tomorrow.

He reveals his perfect plan.

“Tony Wendice: At exactly three minutes to eleven, you’ll enter the house through the street door. You’ll find the key to this door under the stair carpet here.

C.A. Swann: The fifth step?

Tony Wendice: That’s the one. Go straight to the window, and hide behind the curtains. At exactly eleven o’clock, I shall go to the telephone in the hotel to call my boss. I shall dial the wrong number. This number. That’s all I shall do.”

His wife will answer the phone, and then Swann can strangle her and leave through the french windows.

perfect plan

Swann agrees to the plot as he feels he has no other choice in the matter. Tony is estatic as everything seems to be going along perfectly.

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But then things start falling apart. Margot doesn’t want to stay home. She is thinking of going out to dinner and seeing a movie. Mark thinks it’s a great idea but Tony convinces her to stay home.

“Margot Mary Wendice: Don’t make me stay home. You know how I hate doing nothing.

Tony Wendice: Doing nothing? Why there are hundreds of things you can do. Have you written to Peggy, thanking her for the weekend? And what about those clippings? It’s an ideal opportunity.

Margot Mary Wendice: Well I like that. You two go gallivanting while I stay home and do those boring clippings.”

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Before Tony leaves, he stills Margot’s key from her bag and puts it in the marked hiding place. Keeping his key in his pocket, he and Mark leave for the party.

Back at the home, Margot has been working hard on her scrapbooking. She eventually goes to bed, putting everything away…at least almost everything. She actually forgets the scissors and leaves them by the phone.

That night everything starts being put into motion. Swann enters the place the same way that Tony planned it out. He leaves the key under the stair and hides behind the curtains waiting for the phone.

However, back at the party, things aren’t quite going as planned.

Stupid, stupid

Stupid, stupid

Tony’s watch stops and he has to ask for the time, finding out that it is actually past 11:00.

What!

He hurries to the pay phone and makes the call, hoping that everything else goes accordingly. Margot gets up to answer the phone. As she is talking, Swann reaches out to strangle her.

dial-m for murder strangle grace kelly

But instead of overpowering her like he’s supposed to, Margot ends up getting him. As the two are struggling, she reaches for something…anything to stop him. She ends up grabbing the scissors and stabbing him with them, completely killing him.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

Margot is a mess and is freakin’ out. I can’t blame her, someone is trying to murder you and you kill them.

I don't know what to do

Tony tells her to touch nothing and wait for him. He’s on his way over.

As he heads over Tony freaks out. His plans have failed. But then something comes to him. A new plan, a way to fix things.

Its-so-crazy it just mightwork

He decides to make it look like Swann was blackmailing Margot and that she murdered him rather than self-defense. He calls the police and sends Margot to bed. He then plants Mark’s letter in Swann’s coat, takes the key and puts it back in Margot’s handbag, and burns the scarf that Swann was going to use, replacing it with Margot’s stocking. He then tells Margot to make sure she doesn’t tell the police that he told her not to call the police. He’s worried how it might make her look. However, Tony is plotting very well, and the police begin to strongly suspect her.

Everyone's a suspect!

Hmm…

The police figure out that Swann did not come through the French Windows. He must have come through the hall, as it rained the night before. If he had come through the garden there would be muddy footprints. Inspector Hubbard (John Williams) strongly suspects Margot and believes her to be the killer. We cut to a scene showing Margot on trial amd sentenced to be hanged.

perfect plan

Except thing are not quite perfect.  There are quite a few things Tony didn’t plan. One of which was getting rid of the money. As Tony mentioned, he’s been drawing a lot of money out of his bank every week, pretending to spend it on racehorses. He had planned to give it to Swann, but now is at a loss. He can’t put it back in the bank as there would be too many questions. He can’t keep it, if the police find it, it’s all over for him.

I don't know what to do

So he tries to spend it all. Unbeknowest to him, the police are watching him very carefully. And they notice this.

Months later, on the night before Margot’s execution,  Mark comes to speak to Tony. He tells him that instead of letting Margot die, he should say that he tried to murder her. That he hired Swann. This will give him some jail time but save Margot’s life. Tony does not want to do that.

Dial M for murder mark, tony, inspector hubble

Inspector Hubbard comes back to the flat to question Tony some more about the money he’s been spending. Mark hears this and starts searching, finding the briefcase full of money.

What!

Tony thinks of a lie quickly and says that this was the money Margot had to give to Swann, but then changed her mind and killed him. The Inspector listens and takes his comment as fact…or does he?

Everyone's a suspect!

Hmm…

Now, if Tony was really smart he would have made up a different lie. I would have said that I realized there was nothing between me and Margot and was planning on leaving her. However, I knew that I wouldn’t get much money in the divorce (he signed a prenup), so I’ve been taking some money out, bit by bit. When the murder happened, I knew it would come to light and was afraid that it might put me in a bad light or under suspicion. I mean its not the perfect excuse, but at least it shows he wasn’t going to kill her as why remove money when he was planning on getting it all. But he doesn’t think that way.

princess Bride Victim to classic blunder Vizzini

This makes the inspector highly suspicious of Tony and he steals the key from Margot’s purse, intent on sneaking in and investigating.

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Hold on, that is illegal. He doesn’t have a search warrant or permission to be searching the house. Anything he finds will be immaterial and thrown out of court. I looked it up and  this is what it said:

By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass.No man can set his foot upon my ground without my license, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing; which is proved by every declaration in trespass, where the defendant is called upon to answer for bruising the grass and even treading upon the soil. If he admits the fact, he is bound to show by way of justification, that some positive law has empowered or excused him. The justification is submitted to the judges, who are to look into the books; and if such a justification can be maintained by the text of the statute law, or by the principles of common law. If no excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.

So technically, anything he finds can not be used in a court of law. That’s it, Tony is allowed to go free.

TheEnd_Title_2

But of course this is a movie, and things go differently. Inspector Hubble discovers that the key in the purse does not work on the front door. He instead finds it under the stair carpet. This gives him the great idea of creating a little trick to discover if Tony is the true killer.

John Williams (Chief Inspector Hubbard) Dial M for Murder (1954)

The Inspector visits Tony and steals his raincoat, leaving his own, therefore taking Tony’s key. He calls the station and asks them to release Margot. She immediately returns home, but finds out that her key won’t work. Hubbard watches her and discovers that she does not know the key is under the stairs. The Inspector let’s her in and gets a policeman to take the bag back to the station. They then begin to wait for Tony.

perfect plan

Tony comes home from his errands and finds that he can’t get inside. His coat belongs to Inspector Hubble and he has the wrong key. When Tony discovers his key doesn’t fit, he goes down to the station to get Margot’s bag. When that key doesn’t fit, he looks under under the stairs and finds the key, giving himself away.

dun-dun-duuuun

Tony enters and figures out they caught him. Being the gentleman he is, he doesn’t fight them. He knows when he has been defeated.

Tony Wendice: [pouring a drink] As you said Mark, it might work out on paper, but congratulations, Inspector. Oh, by the way… How about you, Margot?

Margot Mary Wendice: Yes, I could do with something.

Tony Wendice: Mark?

Mark Halliday: So could I.

Tony Wendice: I suppose you’re still on duty, Inspector.

TheEnd_Title_2

It;s a great movie, despite the small legality issue, but otherwise an amazing film. I definitely recommend it.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

For the previous post, go to What Have We Done to Each Other?

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For more on Dial “M” for Murder, go to Part X: The Movie List That Would Not Die

For more on Alfred Hitchcock, go to The Past of a Man

For more on blackmail, go to Secrets are Great, Unless You Get Caught

For more films based on a play, go to Murder is My Favorite Crime