NEW ZEALAND – Film preservationists found an old film by Alfred Hitchcock AND they found… Alfred Hitchcock!
Film preservationists found the first half of the earliest known surviving feature film on which Hitchcock has a credit: a silent melodrama called “The White Shadow.”
AND, most surprisingly, when the looked in the attic that they found the film, they also found Alfred Hitchcock. “He was just sitting there, smoking a cigar,” said film historian Patrick Jacob.
Alfred Hitchcock just said “I saw the whole thing,” when asked questions by the New Zealand film preservationists.
Hitchcock was taken to a nearby theatre where he was dusted off. They watched his old film. Hitchcock watched the film with the film preservationists and simply said, “I saw the whole thing.”
The first three reels of the six-reel film, made in 1923, were discovered by the National Film Preservation Foundation at the New Zealand Film Archive.
“The White Shadow” was directed by Graham Cutts, and the 24-year-old Hitchcock was credited as writer, assistant director, editor and art director.
Hitchcock stood up when he saw the credits and yelled, “I was the director. I was the director!”
The film preservationists wanted to know more about Hitchcock and his contribution to White Shadow, but Hitchcock just sat down and said, “I saw the whole thing.”
Hitchcock made his official directing debut two years later with the chorus-girl melodrama “The Pleasure Garden.” He went on to direct such suspense classics as “Psycho,” “The Birds,” “Rear Window” and “Vertigo.”
“The White Shadow” is a “missing link, one of those few productions where we are able to bridge that gap of Hitchcock, the young guy with all these ideas, and Hitchcock the filmmaker,” said David Sterritt, author of “The Films of Alfred Hitchcock.”
Here’s a still from the White Shadow:
“Even though he didn’t direct it, he was all over it,” said Patrick Jacob.
“I directed it,” Hitchcock yelled to the stunned New Zealand police.
Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film was 1940’s “Rebecca,” the best-picture Academy Award winner that he made for producer David O. Selznick. Lewis J. Selznick Enterprises, run by Selznick’s father, had released “The White Shadow” in the United States 16 years earlier.
Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899. He is almost 112 years old. He attributes his long life to eating the same thing for lunch every day – pasta with peas. He also says that staying “far away” from Hollywood has allowed him to live a long life.
“Everybody dies in Hollywood,” Hitchcock said. “Everybody dies.”