3 Aug 2011

Early Hitchcock film discovered in NZ

9:36 pm on 3 August 2011

A large part of what is thought to be Alfred Hitchcock's earliest surviving film has been discovered in New Zealand.

Three reels of The White Shadow - a wild, atmospheric melodrama which was believed lost has been discovered at the New Zealand Film Archive in Wellington.

Chief executive Frank Stark says the 1923 silent movie had been tucked away in its substantial collection of foreign films held since the 1980s. It was part of a collection gifted by film buff Jack Murtagh in 1989.

Mr Stark told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme his staff have only seen still frames, as careful restoration work by hand is needed before the film can be re-animated.

He believes there were six reels originally, and it is not known if the beginning or end has been lost - making it "a real cliff-hanger".

He hopes to see the first screening of the film probably since the 1920s in about a week or so.

The British Film Institute last year issued a world-wide appeal for lost Hitchcock films and it is believed The White Shadow is the first to be unearthed.

Mr Stark says the Film Archive will provide copies to archives in Britain and the United States.

Hitchock went on to make classics including Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest and Rear Window. He died in 1980.