We've had a few months for laurel-resting after the hard work and great results of our third "For the Love of Film" blogathon. Together with the dauntless Marilyn Ferdinand and Roderick Heath, we raised money for the National Film Preservation Foundation to stream the three surviving reels of the six-reel silent movie The White Shadow, from 1924.
Its director, Graham Cutts, is a key figure in early British cinema. Even more important, The White Shadow is the earliest surviving feature on the towering resume of Alfred Hitchcock, as well as the earliest surviving film on which Hitchcock collaborated with his future wife, Alma Reville. Hitchcock worked on this movie as assistant director, art director, editor and writer.
Now it's time to savor our results. The two-month run of The White Shadow, which critic David Sterritt calls "one of the most significant developments in memory for scholars, critics, and admirers of Hitchcock’s extraordinary body of work" begins today, folks.
The Siren hands the mic over to Annette Melville of the NFPF:
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...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 the 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 continent
Almost everybody loves Hitchcock movies. We went one better. We helped get one back in front of thousands of viewers for the first time in decades. No modesty here: This film is online because we worked our tails off to help get it there.
A thousand thanks, Fandor. Mazel tov, NFPF. And kudos, gang. Spread the word.
Meanwhile, in celebration, the Siren decided to do something she has previously hasn't: offer a list of her Hitchcock favorites. She came up with a dozen. This is one of the richest filmographies imaginable, and yes, there are some towering titles missing, out of mere personal preference. There's another four or five the Siren would gladly rewatch this instant, including Foreign Correspondent, Rope, and The Paradine Case. (Yes. The Paradine Case.) Even so, it's marvelous to revel once more in this man's talent.
Consider this list as the Siren's way of throwing confetti.
Dark, yes, but also comforting: "He thought the world was a horrible place. He couldn't have been very happy, ever. He didn't trust people. Seemed to hate them. He hated the whole world. You know, he said people like us had no idea what the world was really like."
In a crowded field of unbelievable greatness, Robert Walker is the greatest Hitchcock villain of them all. Certainly he's the most psychologically interesting. And this film gave the Siren her most potent Hitchcock scare, when the painting is revealed.
An exemplary adaptation and a fabulous ghost story, with a touch of demonic possession. Plus twisted sexual yearnings all over the place, plus George Sanders coming in through the window. Pure beauty to rival any of Hitchcock's Technicolor masterpieces, and if you don't believe the Siren, just ask the folks at the magnificent picture blog Obscure Hollow.
If there is a heaven, and some good soul manages to get the Siren on the guest list, they'll let her borrow Grace Kelly's wardrobe.
Hitchcock's sexiest and most romantic film. If you haven't already, please do read Sheila O'Malley on the love psychology of Dev and Alicia.
Left the Siren fated to spend the rest of her life wishing she could take a long, elegant train ride through a charming European landscape...in 1938. And as allegory it's alarmingly prescient, isn't it?
The only thing that could make a train ride better would be if the Siren were handcuffed to Robert Donat (who in a just world would have worked with Hitchcock again). An extremely funny movie. "And this bullet stuck among the hymns, eh? Well, I'm not surprised Mr. Hannay. Some of those hymns are terrible hard to get through."
The Siren's essay on this one will be in the Criterion edition of the film, due in January.
In addition to borrowing Her Serene Highness' clothes, the Siren will also get to hang out with Tallulah. "The trouble with you, darling, is that you've been reading too much Kipling. 'The sins ye do by two and two ye must pay for one by one.'"
You know who needs a little more love for this one? Jessie Royce Landis, that's who. "I'm not nervous, I'll be late for the bridge club."
A dreamily gorgeous movie, but the Siren scratches her head when this one is called romantic. To her, it's a complete negation of the very possibility of romance, telling us instead that men and women are fated to bring one another nothing but agony. Peter Bogdanovich nails the Siren's feelings, but he also acknowledges that Vertigo is a great film, and the Siren agrees there, too.
So much more than the milk.