A lost Alfred Hitchcock movie discovered in New Zealand shed is scheduled to be screened in Los Angeles today for the first time in 80 years.
The only copy of the 1923 film The White Shadow was discovered in a garden shed in New Zealand alongside hundreds of other films from that period that had been hoarded by former cinema projectionist Jack Murtagh, who died in 1989.
New Zealand Film Archive chief Frank Stark described Murtagh to the AAP as a "magpie", who was supposed to throw the footage away but could not bear to do so. He explained that in the early days of movie-making, prints would be sent to isolated New Zealand once "they were deemed to be at the end of their distribution life".
The film will be shown at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles today.
The Film Archive described the film as a “wild, atmospheric” melodrama starring Betty Compson in a dual role as twin sisters, one angelic and one soulless.
David Sterritt, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics and author of “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock,” called the discovery “one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock’s extraordinary body of work” in a statement.
“At just 24 years old, Alfred Hitchcock wrote the film’s scenario, designed the sets, edited the footage and served as assistant director to Graham Cutts, whose professional jealousy toward the gifted upstart made the job all the more challenging,” Mr. Sterritt added.