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National Post (05/Apr/1999) - Do you have a lost Hitchcock locked away in your dark, dank basement?



Do you have a lost Hitchcock locked away in your dark, dank basement?

As part of this year's centenary celebration of film director Alfred Hitchcock, who was born in August, 1899, his working notes have been gathered together and published for the first time. Hitchcock's Notebooks (Spike/Avon Books) is a thick, fascinating volume. Among its revelations, the book includes 30 stills from Hitchcock's lost film, The Mountain Eagle. No prints of this 1927 film are known to exist, and previously it was thought that only six stills had survived. But more have been found among Hitchcock's papers, along with photographs — also reproduced in the book — of him and his future wife Alma, a film editor, on location for the film in a snowy Germany. The Mountain Eagle is high on the most-wanted list of the many films from earlier this century that no one thought to preserve. Dan Auiler, who edited and provided the commentary for Hitchcock's Notebooks, says in his introduction that he hopes the publication of the stills (one of which is shown on the right) will "stir enough memories so that a print of this important Hitchcock film may be found." This is not as unlikely as it may seem, for as he points out, a rare, tinted print of 1926's The Pleasure Garden (previously the one other lost Hitchcock) was found in 1992 in Waco, Tex. But might it be better that The Mountain Eagle remains a tantalizing lacuna? A contemporary review from The Kinematograph magazine suggests that the young Hitch still had a lot to learn about creating tension and suspense: "Alfred Hitchcock's direction is, as usual [it was his second film], thoroughly imaginative, but in this case he has rather over-stressed the slow tempo..."