Here's a plot twist Alfred Hitchcock likely never envisioned: The earliest feature film he worked on has finally been discovered in the vaults of a New Zealand archive. A nitrate film expert found the long lost 1923 British movie White Shadow, which credits the then-24-year-old Hitchcock as writer, assistant director, editor, and production designer. The silent film will be screened Sept. 22 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The print was uncovered among a batch of 75 unidentified American features, newsreels, and short films that have been housed in New Zealand since 1989. Due to budget constraints, the archive could only afford to view and restore classic New Zealand films until last year, when the US National Film Preservation Foundation was awarded a grant to send an archivist to sift through them. "What we are getting is the missing link," says the chairman of the National Society of Film Critics. "We know the kind of creative personality [Hitchcock] 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."