Long lost Hitchcock film unearthed in New Zealand
1924 silent film 'The White Shadow' was an early Hitchcock effort
Three reels of the 1924 British silent film "The White Shadow," was
recently unearthed in New Zealand. An early effort from the Master of
Suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock, film historians have heralded it a
The story of twin sisters, one evil and one innocent, "The White Shadow's" star, American actress Betty Compson, plays both parts.
"We were sort of the end of the line, I think, from the U.S. They obviously traveled to Australia and across to New Zealand, and then when it got to the last screenings in New Zealand here, these productions were just destroyed," Brian Scadden, the head of the laboratory at Park Road Post Production in Wellington says.
A local projectionist kept the film and left it to the New Zealand Film Archive after his death in 1989.
Leslie Anne Lewis, an American audio visual archive specialist examined the collection and came upon three reels.
"They were filled with really striking images, images that were enough to pique my curiosity, so I decided that night to start trying to identify the film," Lewis says. "And during my inspection, I was able to identify two of the film's stars, Betty Compson and Clive Brook, and the film's distributor, Selznick [Lewis J. Selznick Enterprises].
"I realized that this was most likely a film that Alfred Hitchcock had worked on," she said. "It was quite a surprise, and it was the middle of the night when I realized this, and I had no one that I could call and tell!"
The story of twin sisters, one evil and one innocent, "The White Shadow's" star, American actress Betty Compson, plays both parts. Park Road Post Production's Brian Scadden says the film has unique tints that emphasize its drama.
"There's one part where the leading lady, she goes into the bedroom, and it's an amber tint, and then she switches the light off, and it goes to quite a bluey-green tint," Scadden says. "So, whatever the mood is, whatever the time of day is, they have a different tint."
Film researchers will continue to look for remaining reels of the movie, which may have been destroyed or disintegrated.
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