Mary, 1931 – ★★★½

#43 in the Reverse Hitchcock project.

“Blood on her hands!”

This is perhaps the most obscure of the feature films of Alfred Hitchcock, sometimes even omitted from his list of works: however, this is not simply ‘a German version of ‘Murder!’ as it has a different cast, runs at least twenty minutes less in duration, and changes some of the character names (notably the accused woman, Diana Baring, is called Mary here, and even gives her new name to the film title).

Not only does ‘Mary’ remove the comic elements which lifted ‘Murder!’ from the mundane, it also, strangely, removed some of the elements one might suggest as expressionist in nature (the shadow of the noose, for example). It is true that the same sets were utlised, people by a different set of performers: only Miles Mander was used in both productions, having some ability in speaking the German language, but his role is relatively small.

Where we had Herbert Marshall in ‘Murder!’ playing the Henry Fonda-like dissenting voice on the jury, here we have Alfred Abel, who is something of a dry stick (he is perhaps best remembered as Joh Fredersen in Fritz Lang’s classic ‘Metropolis’). I liked Olga Tschechowa’s performance as Mary, though, a pretty girl who may yet sway the men on the jury by her physical charm.

The source print I am watching – on an unofficial DVD, with English subtitles, as the only official releases remain resolutely Germanic – is from the National Film Archive and so is watchable, although as with many early sound features there are audio glitches.

Because on previous viewings I was struggling with my basic German and finding the film a chore to watch, this re-viewing gets an extra star. The new cast are richly delineated and although it is odd to see this as a Hitchcock film, despite his own reservations with the language, it is not a complete disaster, although it omits a major twist which is present in the ‘Murder!’ film.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

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