Pre-Hitchcock Hitchcock

What may be this year’s most interesting bit of Hitchcockiana — certainly it’s the least expected — is available for viewing at, the website of the National Film Preservation Foundation.

It’s a 1924 English silent film, The White Shadow, which was long thought lost. More accurately, it’s the film’s three first reels, lasting a little more than 40 minutes (the remainder of the film remains missing). The footage was found last year at the New Zealand Film Archive in canisters marked (Twin Sisters) with Betty Compson. Compson is the film’s star. Some inspired sleuthing by the NFPF’s Leslie Anne Lewis revealed the film to be The White Shadow.

What made this a big deal is that The White Shadow is as close to being a Hitchcock film as a movie can get without actually qualifying. The director was Graham Cutts, a leading English filmmaker of the ’20s. With that name, he should have been an editor. Instead, it was Hitchcock who edited it. He also wrote the script, based on a novel by the English dramatist Michael Morton, and was assistant director and art director — via

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