‘The Number 13,’ 1922

The Number 13: A Review That Can Never Be

by ChatGPT


It’s important to note that “The Number 13” is an elusive entity in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography because it was never completed and remains a lost work. Therefore, a traditional review of the film’s elements, such as narrative storytelling or technical achievements, is not possible. However, its mere existence—or the lack thereof—provides a unique point of discussion about early filmmaking challenges, the evolution of Hitchcock as an artist, and the mythology that surrounds lost or unfinished works in cinema history.

Technical Challenges and Early Filmmaking

While there are no surviving reels to judge “The Number 13” by, it serves as a reminder of the struggles and uncertainties that filmmakers faced during the nascent period of cinema. The film was beset with financial difficulties, leading to its abrupt cancellation. These technical and financial challenges were common in early 20th-century filmmaking, often making the journey from script to screen a precarious endeavor.

Hitchcock’s Formative Years

The scant information available about “The Number 13” suggests that it was to include elements of comedy and social realism, diverging significantly from the genres Hitchcock would later be celebrated for. As an intended debut, it provides insights into what might have been a very different trajectory for Hitchcock as a filmmaker. The film’s incomplete status serves as an interesting counterpoint to the polished, meticulously crafted works that would later define Hitchcock’s legacy, offering a glimpse into his formative years in the industry.

Influence and Mythology

While “The Number 13” itself did not influence cinema, the enigma surrounding it and other lost films adds a layer of mythology to the art of filmmaking. The mystique of the ‘film that never was’ stokes imaginations and fuels academic and cinephilic speculation, contributing to ongoing dialogues about incomplete or lost art forms. Its intangible status also serves as a point of exploration for discussions about archival efforts and the importance of preservation in cinema history.


Although “The Number 13” cannot be reviewed in the traditional sense due to its incomplete status, its intended existence serves multiple purposes in discussions related to early cinema, Alfred Hitchcock’s evolution, and the broader mythology of lost films. As such, it becomes more than just an absence in Hitchcock’s filmography; it transforms into a subject of fascination and academic curiosity, providing a different kind of lens through which one can appreciate the complexities and unpredictabilities of filmmaking.