Found! Hitchcock's First Film (Sorta)

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Oh, those tricky film canisters. So easy to misplace or mislabel! Especially if it's a mere 30 minutes of footage that some young nobody assistant directed… Even if that AD turned out to be one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.

In a revelation as surprising as the ending of Hitch's "Psycho," a part of the famous director's first credited film was found in the New Zealand Film Archive. Leslie Lewis of the National Film Preservation Foundation went down to New Zealand to investigate the collection of stored but unexamined film footage.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Lewis found the first 30 minutes of "White Shadow" by director Graham Cutts; it was written and edited by the assistant director, a young fellow by the name of Alfred Hitchcock.

What's so exciting for fans, critics, and academics is that even these mere 30 minutes help us understand the growth of Hitchcock from a young buck to the distinguished director who has influenced countless other writers or directors. Savvy film lovers know that nods to Hitch's films can be found in everything from "The Simpsons" to photo spreads in Vanity Fair and even video games like "Metal Gear Solid."

Plenty of famous directors namecheck Hitchcock as an influence or inspiration, like Spielberg and Tarantino, but especially those in the horror biz like Guillermo del Toro, John Carpenter and even Eli Roth. Perhaps the most blatant "homage" to Hitchcock, other than Gus Van Sant's shot-by-shot remake of "Psycho," is the Shia LaBeouf thriller "Disturbia," which actually got Spielberg and Dreamworks sued by the owner of the rights to "Rear Window."

There's a screening of the footage in September at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater, although it's not clear if the public will be able to see the footage for themselves anytime soon.