One of the earliest films made by British master director Alfred Hitchcock has been found in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Film Archive said the first three reels of the six-reel feature "The White Shadow" were found in a cache of ageing nitrate prints given to the archive in the 1990s. It said the silent-era film, made in 1923, was believed to be the oldest surviving feature by Hitchcock, who went on to Hollywood with classic thrillers such as "Psycho", "Vertigo" and "North by Northwest".
The archive described the film as "a wild atmospheric melodrama" about two sisters, one angelic and the other without a soul. No other copies are believed to exist.
"This is one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock?s extraordinary body of work," David Sterritt, chairman of the US National Society of Film Critics, said.
The whereabouts of the final three reels of the film remain a mystery.