British Film Institute on the Trail of a Lost Hitchcock Film

British Film Institute on the Trail of a Lost Hitchcock Film

In 1926, Alfred Hitchcock directed his second movie, a silent film entitled A Mountain Eagle. The hour-long drama, set in Kentucky, features a crippled schoolboy who has a liaison with his enchanting teacher, Beatrice, who becomes involved in a love triangle that includes the boy’s father. There is murder, wrongful imprisonment, and unrequited love.

However, this is all mere speculation, since the film reel is currently lost. The only evidence of the film’s existence today is an advertisement card and a few stills. Nonetheless, the British Film Institute has not given up hope that it will be found. Since 1992, when the BFI first issued a list of missing films, 16 have been recovered and added to its impressive archives — the largest in the world, boasting 180,000 films and 750,000 television programs.

 

To mark its 75th anniversary, the BFI has released a list of its 75 most-wanted "Missing Believed Lost" films. A Mountain Eagle is just one of the 75 feature films that have eluded the BFI, and it is the only Hitchcock on the list. The director may have been pleased with the demise of the film reel. While it earned moderately favorable reviews, the film was immediately overshadowed by the director's Jack-the-Ripper thriller, The Lodger. Hitchcock, who described A Mountain Eagle as “awful.”

The other 74 missing films on the list date from 1913 to 1983 and span a variety of genres. Also included on the list is A Study in Scarlet (1914), the first the appearance of British detective Sherlock Holmes and the first film based on an H. G. Wells novel, The First Men on the Moon (1919).