Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Early Alfred Hitchcock Effort Discovered in New Zealand-- (from the Los Angeles Times) Hitchcock, who was just 24 at the time, was the writer, assistant director, editor and production designer on the melodrama, starring Betty Compson as twin sisters — one good and one bad — and Clive Brook. "The White Shadow" will have its "re-premiere" Sept. 22 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-et-hitchcock-film-20110803,0,4619800.story


  1. How cool is this? Thanks for the 'find', Doug!

  2. You're welcome Will. Whenever an early film created in full or part by one of the Old Masters like Ford or Hitchcock is discovered, it's truly a wonderful event; another piece of the puzzle to what made these directors critically and publicly succesful.

    It sounds like a good amount of Hollywood footage was saved by our "Kiwi cousins", enough for a whole retrospective on a DVD.

  3. Moa spotted in Leytonstone park in the northeast London Borough of Waltham Forest!

  4. Thanks for this interesting piece of cinema history Doug with the discovery of Hitchcock's 'missing link' hidden in New Zealand for almost 90 years.
    Given his fame it is amazing really that it has only just been discovered. Is this a new discipline if cinematic archaeology I wonder?

  5. LOL!

    I say Whitehall (under the Foreign Waterfowl Act of 1907) should agree to repatriate one flightless bird to NZ in exchange for the other reels of the Hitchcock film! The Kiwis are no doubt sitting on a trove of film treasures from the silent era, waiting for more publicity down the road.

  6. It is amazing to me how films by famous directors and actors suddenly turn up. The New Zealanders also announced they had a full-length John Ford western nobody had seen in decades.

    Film preservation has made some strides starting with film studies at universities in America around the late 60-70's. Before that it estimated that 80 percent of silent era films were lost, or destroyed by fire, or simply left to molder away.

    Before that I'm afraid film preservation was rather abysmal. A great film like "Lost Horizon" from 1937 had to pieced back together. The last surviving 35mm print of Ford's "Stagecoach" was discovered in John Wayne's garage. Some films exist only in bad television prints that, before digitalization, were literally fading away!

    Thanks to private collectors--who were once regarded as pirates but turned out to be rescuers---and foreign film archives in unlikely places like Eastern Europe, many American classics and just plain cultural treasures have been reclaimed and transferred to safety stock film.

    Some of Buster Keaton's original silent -era films work was feared lost, but new prints were located in Romania and other places. Parts of the Fritz lang film, "Metropolis", feared lost, was located in Argentina a couple years back.

    Even a standard film is of course a treasure in my view,a priceless glimpse of the past that can never be replicated.

    Restoration takes a lot of money and I can understand why the New Zealand film preservation teams want American funds and personnel to go through what can be saved. It sounds like they did a better job than many of the major studios did with their own libraries for decades. It's literally a race against time in some cases since the old nitrate prints are highly combustible and literally deteriorate away if not stored properly.