The rarest item in MOMA's Hitchcock retro is Mary, the German-language version of his 1930 Murder!, shot simultaneously on the same sets at Elstree . The film surfaced in 1990 at an East German archive and has never been seen here before. In Murder!, an actor (Herbert Marshall) has doubts about the guilt of the woman (Nora Baring) he helped convict and tracks down the real killer. Hitch enlivens the plot with a knockout opening shot (which anticipates Rear Window), caustic humor, an expressionistic soundtrack, and a kinky gay subtext. Twelve minutes shorter than Murder, Mary is tighter, but not better. The director, who makes one of his cameos in Murder!, is nowhere to be found in Mary. Gone also are the villain's sexual ambivalence and the theatrical scenes cross- relating art and life. Marshall's role is dryly played by Alfred Abel of Metropolis. Mary's single superiority is its heroinewhere Baring is vacant, Olga Tchekowa is soulful and moving as the wrong and wronged woman. (Both films screen on April 24 and 27.)
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