The White Shadow

Only three reels survive of this 1924 British melodrama, which was written and edited by a 25-year-old Alfred Hitchcock. The scenario hinges on two themes that would become central to Hitchcock’s own films, those of the double and the transference of guilt. Betty Compson (a silent-era star best remembered for Josef von Sternberg’s The Docks of New York) stars as wealthy twin sisters; one lives recklessly whereas the other, a model of virtue, is her “white shadow.” Clive Brook plays the young man who is drawn to the first sister but falls in love with the second. Though the sisters are easily distinguishable, Brook doesn’t figure out who’s who until the very end—a dramatic contrivance that nonetheless prefigures one of Hitchcock’s favorite formulas for suspense, alerting the audience to pressing information of which the hero is oblivious. Graham Cutts directed.