Earliest Surviving Hitchcock Credit Discovered
The first half hour of 1923’s “White Shadows” – aka “The White Shadow” – was among a treasure trove of American prints that were in the New Zealand Film Archive, which got hold of it in 1989 but couldn’t examine because of budgetary restraints that required it to maintain its own country’s movies first.
What researchers uncovered in December is only a portion of the movie that director Graham Cutts shot, which was originally about an hour long. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills will show it on Sept. 22.
The movie features Betty Compson in a dual role as a woman with an evil twin, and lists Hitchcock as a writer, assistant director, editor and production designer.
David Sterritt, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics and author of “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock,” said movies like this one opened the door to a new career for the Englishman, who had previously been a writer. “What we are getting is the missing link,” Sterritt said. “We know a few years later he started directing movies himself. What we don’t know is how these things were coalescing in his imagination.”
Fred Stark, who heads the New Zealand Film Archive, said “White Shadows,” like the many other titles it deals with, was in good hands. “We took quite a lot of care into storing them,” he said. “We would wind through these films every 18 to 24 months, which enabled us to keep them from getting stuck, and if there were problems, we were able to correct them.”
An outgrowth of the Library of Congress, the National Film Preservation Foundation put the funding it got from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation into viewing the last of the archive’s materials, following up on a similar endeavor last year.
The whereabouts of Hitchcock’s “Fear o’ God” – a silent movie that historians sometimes refer to as “The Mountain Eagle” – remain a mystery.
Hitchcock made a name for himself as the Master of Suspense with yarns like “Psycho,” “North by Northwest,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window.”
This article was originally appeared on AllMediaNY.com
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