Lost Hitchcock film to be shown publicly for the first time in nearly 100 years

 A “lost” Hitchcock film that has not been shown publicly for nearly 100 years is being screened this week at the British Silent Film Festival.

Three Live Ghosts (1922) was one of the first films that the young Alfred Hitchcock worked on and had been thought lost forever.


It has just been discovered in a Russian archive and is being publicly shown thanks to Laraine Porter, of De Montfort University Leicester’s renowned Cinema and Television History (CATH) research team.

It is one of dozens of screen gems being shown as part of the festival – the UK’s largest event dedicated to silent films, supported by the British Film Institute.

Laraine, who has organised the three-day film festival at Leicester’s Phoenix Cinema, said: “No-one has seen this since 1922 and many Hitchcock scholars thought it was no longer extant. He was credited as a title designer, but it is likely that he would have been involved much more than that.

“When you read his interviews he is talking about helping out and advising, and in those days it would have been a much more communal atmosphere on set. 
“What is also interesting is the role that his wife, Alma, played because she was an editor and collaborator yet received little attention.”

Three Live Ghosts was a comedy that was distributed by Famous Players-Lasky, an American film company which later became Paramount Pictures. It is one of several fascinating pre-1930 films set during the First World War to be shown during the festival.

Other wartime silent films being shown include The W Plan, a spy thriller set behind enemy lines in Germany; edgy melodrama Dark Red Roses; drag comedy Splinters, the story of Australian entertainers and Tell England, about the Gallipoli campaign which Dr Porter says “pulls no punches about the horrors of war”.

The 2015 centenary of the sinking of RMS Lusitania is commemorated and there are two rarely-seen films from the Imperial War Museum about Lord Horatio Kitchener, national hero and Secretary of State for War.

The festival will also see the premiere of a new film score to Russian Civil War drama Arsenal (1929) as well as a very special screening at Leicester Cathedral of Jane Shore (1915) the story of a woman who becomes the king’s mistress - but falls foul of Richard III.

Sci-fi thriller High Treason imagines a world with Skype and the Channel Tunnel before either were ever invented, while The Great Game is a football drama showing the real Chelsea team of 1930 preparing for the Cup Final.

There will also be clips and lectures from experts looking at the transition to “talkies”, advertising in the silent era and world cinema from Holland, France, Sweden and Russia.

Curated by Laraine Porter, Bryony Dixon of the BFI and silent film accompanist Neil Brand, alongside a team of UK experts, the festival offers cinemagoers the chance to see the films and hear live music from the world’s leading professional silent film accompanists.

“My research is about the coming of sound and these films were made in that transitional period. A lot of these films will not have been seen since they were released.”

One of her favourite films being shown is Windjammer, a documentary of the last voyage of a full-rigged Windjammer sailing from Australia to England via Cape Horn. The cameraman was killed on the journey and his death became part of the narrative of the story.

 “My favourite of those being shown is Windjammer. It’s so elegiac, it’s a record of a last journey of the sail ship around Cape Horn. It’s beautifully shot and so moving.”

Tickets for the festival are on sale now and can be bought individually or as day passes.

Posted on: Wednesday 09 September 2015

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