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Lost Hitchcock movie will get Hollywood premiere

Thirty years after his death, a film by Alfred Hitchcock will enjoy a Hollywood premiere.

A copy of what is believed to be the earliest surviving film from his back catalogue has been found in New Zealand.

Three reels from a silent movie called The White Shadow, described by researchers as a "wild, atmospheric melodrama" and previously thought to be lost, have turned up at Auckland's national film archive among a collection of nitrate prints donated in the 1980s by the family of a collector. The location of the remaining reels is unknown.

Fans will be able to see the half-hour of footage from next month, after The White Shadow has been given a "re-premiere" by the Academy of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Made in north London in 1923, the movie starred Betty Compson in dual roles as twin sisters. One of them was angelic; the other, quite the reverse.

Hitchcock, the son of an East End greengrocer, was an unknown but ambitious 24-year-old when the low-budget melodrama was made. He worked as the writer, assistant director, editor and production designer, and is believed to have fallen out with the director, Graham Cutts, during filming.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, David Sterritt, chairman of the National Society of Film Critics, described Cutts as a "hack" who didn't take too kindly to Hitchcock's attempts to impose himself on the project. His "professional jealousy toward the gifted upstart made the job all the more challenging", he noted.