Hitchcock’s ‘first film’ found in New Zealand archive

News came August 3 via The Hollywood Reporter that the earliest film on which Alfred Hitchcock worked has been discovered in the New Zealand Film Archive.

The White Shadow was directed in 1923 by Graham Cutts and starred Betty Compson. Hitchcock, 24 at the time, is credited as writer, assistant director, editor and art director.

Only the first three reels of the film have been discovered and it is unknown where the final three reels are. It is believed this is the only copy in existence.

The White Shadow reels were donated to the archive, along with other, unidentified films, by the family of New Zealand projectionist and film collector Jack Mertagh following his death in 1989.

The BBC reports that the footage will be preserved at Park Road Post Production in Wellington. The reels, which Chairman of the National Society of Film Critics David Sterritt says “offer a priceless opportunity to study [Hitchcock’s] visual and narrative ideas when they were first taking shape”, will re-premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Los Angeles on September 22.

About The Author

Michael Pattison is a film critic from Gateshead.

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