The White Shadow (film)

The White Shadow (1923), also known as White Shadows in the US, is a British drama film directed by Graham Cutts and starring Betty Compson, Clive Brook, and Henry Victor.[1]

The White Shadow
Directed byGraham Cutts
Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)
Produced byMichael Balcon
Victor Saville
Written byGraham Cutts
Alfred Hitchcock (uncredited)
Michael Morton (novel Children of Chance)
StarringBetty Compson
Clive Brook
Henry Victor
A. B. Imeson
Distributed byWoolf & Freedman Film Service (UK)
Selznick Releasing (US)
Release date
August 1923 (UK)
13 October 1924 (US)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
English intertitles


The plot concerns twin sisters, one who is modest and socially conservative, the other a free spirit who can't bear the constrictions of a traditional life. Their father's unhappiness over his bohemian daughter's lifestyle leads him to drink and dissolution. The sisters end up having the same man, Robin, in love with them, without him realizing they are two different people. The extant film ends at a most critical juncture, at which both sisters, Robin, and the father meet at a Paris boîte and are about to realize who each other is. There are several multiple exposures when the two sisters, both played by Betty Compson are on screen at once, which are skillfully done. [2]



The film is based on the unpublished novel Children of Chance by Michael Morton. Alfred Hitchcock collaborated with Cutts on the film. Cutts and Hitchcock made the film quickly, as they wanted to make use of Betty Compson, who had appeared in their hit Woman to Woman (also 1923), before she returned to the United States.[3]

The film was made at the Gainsborough Pictures studio in Hoxton, London.[4]

Writing about the film in 1969, producer Michael Balcon said:

"Engrossed in our first production [Woman to Woman], we had made no preparations for the second. Caught on the hop, we rushed into production with a story called The White Shadow. It was as big a flop as Woman to Woman had been a success."[5]

Preservation status

The film was long thought to be lost. In August 2011, the National Film Preservation Foundation announced that the first three reels of the six-reel picture had been found in the garden shed of Jack Murtagh in Hastings, New Zealand in 1989 and donated to the NFPF. One film can was mislabeled Two Sisters, while the other simply stated Unidentified American Film. Only later were they identified. There is extensive damage to the beginning and end of reel 1, and some nitrate damage throughout, as well as a small section where film is lost altogether and a title card bridges the gap in the plot.

The film was restored by Park Road Studios and is now in the New Zealand Film Archive.[2][6][7] It was later scored and released on a DVD featuring other American films found in the NZ Film Archive.[8]


  • Racheal Low, The History of British Film: Volume IV, 1918–1929 (Routledge, 1997)


  1. "The White Shadow". British Film Institute. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  2. "Rare Alfred Hitchcock film footage uncovered". BBC News. 3 August 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  3. Low p.135
  4. "The White Shadow". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  5. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light by Patrick McGilligan [pg 754]
  6. Westbrook, Laura (3 August 2011). "Early Hitchcock film found in NZ". Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  7. Zafar, Aylin (23 September 2011). "Lost for 80 years, Alfred Hitchcock's Earliest Known Film Makes Its Debut". Time. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  8. "Alfred Hitchcock Collectors' Guide: The White Shadow (1923)". Brenton Film. Retrieved 23 September 2018.

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