The only surviving copy of what is believed to be Alfred Hitchcock’s first foray into filmmaking has been found halfway around the world from Hollywood.
The first 30 minutes of “The White Shadow,” a story about two sisters — one angelic, the other “without a soul” — played by silent film star Betty Compson was apparently stored in the New Zealand Film Archive amongst a cache of early 20th century American film.
The footage will premiere on Sept. 22 at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. So far only three reels of the six-reel feature film have been discovered.
Hitchcock was reportedly just 24 at the time the film was recorded. He’s listed on the credits as assistant director, editor and writer.
“What we are getting is the missing link,” David Sterritt, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics and author of “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock” tells the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He was a creative young man who had already done some writing. We know the kind of creative personality he had when he was young and 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.”