Movies | July 2, 2022 8:07 pm

Revisiting a Lost — and Possible Nonexistent — Hitchcock Film

The director made "Number 13" one hundred years ago

Hitchcock And Dali
Film director Alfred Hitchcock speaks with Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who designed sets and a devised a 'dream' sequence for Hitchcock's film 'Spellbound,’1944.
PhotoQuest/Getty Images

If you’re a film buff of a certain age, it’s very likely that you can talk at length about the works of Alfred Hitchcock. And if you’ve read anything on the filmmaker in question — like, say, Hitchcock/Truffaut — you likely have a sense of the breadth of his filmography. (Which isn’t to say that there aren’t some unsettling details about that filmography that have since come to light.) But that filmography also holds one substantial mystery within it — which is to say, the silent film he made 100 years ago, and which may no longer exist.

In an article at Far Out, Mick McStarkey explored the complex history of Hitchcock’s Number 13. What makes it such a mystery? McStarkey explains: “Not one person, that we know of, has ever seen the film, and even the most enlightened Hitchcock historians are perplexed by it.”

According to the article, the film focused on a group of people living within a house funded by a philanthropic trust. One of its stars, Clare Greet, would go on to appear in a host of the director’s other films. Still, nothing of the film itself has survived to the present day — though a series of images of the production do show Hitchcock working on it.

As some Hitchcock buffs have noted, references to the number 13 came up in another of his films — could that be seen as a kind of self-homage? We may never know for sure.