In 1924, a title designer and budding writer/director named Alfred Hitchcock took the unpublished novel “Children of Chance” and adapted it into The White Shadow for director Graham Cutts. He had worked previously as assistant director and writer under Cutts for 1923’s massive success Woman to Woman, and it was these first in a handful of projects for Cutts that led to him directing his first feature in 1925. Until recently, The White Shadow was thought lost, but a discovery in New Zealand and arduous work from the National Film Preservation Foundation have made most of the print available.
Sadly, the print isn’t complete, but over 40 minutes have survived that show off the early promise that Hitchcock would later fulfill as a visual genius and a master of suspense storytelling. Plus, the online screening room comes with a ton of detailed information from critic David Sterritt about how the film came about and how, even though it flopped, Hitchcock went on to build a sterling career.
It’s a huge find and an intriguing piece of film history that we can thankfully see firsthand. Hopefully someone will find the final three reels somewhere, and we’ll have a complete experience – a new, old Hitchcock piece to enjoy.