‘Mary,’ 1931

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Hitchcock’s German-language Curiosity


“Mary,” a 1931 German-language film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is often overlooked in the vast landscape of Hitchcock’s oeuvre. It serves as a fascinating curiosity—essentially a German version of “Murder!”—shot simultaneously with its English-language counterpart. Though not as critically acclaimed as his later works, the film offers a window into Hitchcock’s early experiments in international cinema and his attempts at cross-cultural storytelling.

Linguistic and Cultural Significance

As a German-language film created for German-speaking audiences, “Mary” holds a unique place in Hitchcock’s filmography. It represents Hitchcock’s engagement with German Expressionism and his effort to communicate his narrative to an entirely different cultural milieu. The language and minor changes in dialogue and scenes reveal a keen sensitivity towards cultural specificity, which marks the film as a curious example of early international cinema.

Parallels to “Murder!”

Given that “Mary” is a version of “Murder!”, the film shares much of its thematic material and technical innovations with its English counterpart. Like “Murder!”, it is an early foray into the psychological thriller genre and features experimental techniques, such as the use of voice-over thoughts. However, “Mary” diverges in subtle ways that adapt the story to its German context, a testament to Hitchcock’s adaptability and attention to cultural detail.

Hitchcock’s Technical Mastery

While not revolutionary in terms of technique, the film still bears traces of Hitchcock’s growing mastery over the medium. There are glimpses of his capacity for suspense and character psychology, even though these elements would not fully mature until later in his career. The mise-en-scène and shot composition, though reflective of the period’s filmmaking conventions, offer early signs of Hitchcock’s eventual iconic style.

Contextual Place in Hitchcock’s Filmography

“Mary” can be considered an outlier in Hitchcock’s career due to its language and the circumstances of its production. However, its existence reflects the director’s willingness to expand his storytelling techniques and themes across cultural boundaries, a trait that would serve him well in his later Hollywood years.


Though “Mary” might be considered a minor entry in Hitchcock’s body of work, its linguistic and cultural adaptations provide valuable insights into Hitchcock as a versatile and international filmmaker. While the film does not radically alter our understanding of Hitchcock’s artistry, it serves as an intriguing footnote that enriches our comprehension of his early career and his adaptability as a storyteller. For scholars and enthusiasts of Hitchcock, “Mary” represents an opportunity to explore the director’s formative influences and the broader scope of his cinematic ambitions.