Streams and Channels: Watch 'The White Shadow' for free online at NFPF
Alfred Hitchcock wrote, edited, and designed this recently rediscovered 1924 film
Remember earlier this year when Videodrone and the folks at The Hitlist participated in the "For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation" blogathon? It was part of a campaign to raise money for the National Film Preservation Foundation to restore, commission a score for, and screen "The White Shadow," a 1924 film discovered last year in a New Zealand film archive, on the web.
That project has come to fruition.
The National Film Preservation Foundation premieres "The White Shadow" (or rather, the existing reels of the film) online on Thursday, November 15, for free.
The film remains incomplete -- only the first three of the film's six reels were discovered in the archive -- but is a major historical discovery nonetheless because of the creative involvement of Alfred Hitchcock. Graham Cutts directs "The White Shadow" but the young, ambitious Hitchcock arguably shaped the film more as screenwriter, production designer, editor, and assistant director.
The 43-minute film will be streamed on the website for free for two months, beginning today, with an original score by Michael M. Mortilla and accompanied by a wealth of companion materials, including program notes by film critic and historian David Sterritt.
For more on the film and the project, see the NFPF press release after the jump. Click on "More" below.
Lost for decades, The White Shadow (1924), the earliest surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980), will screen on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website (www.filmpreservation.org) beginning on November 15. The first half of this mysterious melodrama starring Betty Compson as twin sisters—one angelic and the other “without a soul”—turned up last year among a cache of unidentified American nitrate prints at the New Zealand Film Archive. The NFPF’s free presentation of the discovery is made possible by contributors to the 2012 “For the Love of Film” Blogathon and Fandor.com.
Hitchcock broke into the film industry in 1920 as a title-card designer. Within three years, he was writing scripts, designing sets, and taking on every production job thrown his way. For The White Shadow, a British feature directed by Graham Cutts and picked up for international distribution by Hollywood’s Lewis J. Selznick Enterprises in 1924, the British/American filmmaker is credited as assistant director, art director, editor, and writer. The White Shadow is thought to be the first surviving film on which Hitchcock collaborated with Alma Reville, who became his wife in 1926.
The opening three reels of the six-reel feature were uncovered in 2011 during research by the NFPF to identify American silent-era titles held by the New Zealand Film Archive. David Sterritt, Chairman of the National Society of Film Critics and author of The Films of Alfred Hitchcock, hailed the discovery as “one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock’s extraordinary body of work.” The film was preserved at Park Road Post Production in New Zealand under the supervision of the NZFA and the Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The White Shadow will be presented for free streaming, with the following extras:
• Program notes about the film by David Sterritt
• Newly recorded musical score created by Michael M. Mortilla who, with Nicole Garcia, reprises the performance from the gala premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2011
• A short bio of New Zealand projectionist Jack Murtagh, who salvaged the film
• Slide shows about the film’s discovery, the New Zealand Film Archive, and the Academy Film Archive
The 43-minute presentation, which will run two months, is made possible by contributors from around the world. “Not everyone has the ability to attend the special screenings of The White Shadow in Los Angeles, Washington, or New York,” said Jonathan Marlow, co-founder of Fandor, the curated on-demand movie service that is donating webhosting for the event. “We’re thrilled to play our part in making this fascinating discovery available everywhere.” Fandor’s gift matches cash donations raised through the Internet fundraising drive organized by the 2012 “For the Love of Film” Blogathon, spearheaded by Marilyn Ferdinand, Roderick Heath, and Farran Smith Nehme. The campaign mobilized support from more than 100 film fans across five continents.
The film is among 176 early long-unseen titles recovered and sent to the United States through a multi-year preservation collaboration of the New Zealand Film Archive / Ngā Kaitiaki O Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua, the American film community, and the National Film Preservation Foundation. Some 70 percent are thought to survive nowhere else. Already 24 other films are available for free viewing on the NFPF website. For more about the project, click here.
About the NFPF. The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. Since opening its doors in 1997, the NFPF has supported film preservation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and has helped save more than 1,976 films. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.