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The Mountain Eagle

© Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Or: What Alfred Hitchcock, Ötztal and the most wanted film in the world have to do with each other

He is considered a master of suspense, inventor of subtle horror and father of the psychological thriller - we are, of course, talking about Alfred Hitchcock. Classics like The Birds, Psycho and Vertigo made him world famous. However, his film The Mountain Eagle (1926) is lesser known. The master director's early work is one of his not so successful films, disappeared from cinemas soon after its premiere and finally forever... The silent movie is still missing today and is considered the most wanted film in the world according to the British Film Institute (BFI). Film shooting locations also included Obergurgl and Umhausen in Tirol’s Ötztal. That's why we take you on a film-like search for traces on the Carat.Blog.

A postcard that made film history

It is thanks to a postcard that Hitchcock first found out about the mountain village in the uppermost part of Ötztal. It is in 1925, Hitchcock is currently in Munich for the production of his second film The Mountain Eagle. He is still in search of an ideal backdrop for outdoor shots. Then he notices a postcard in the shop window that shows a small, remote village surrounded by steep mountain slopes. The location seems to be perfect for his project. So Hitchcock asks the shopkeeper which village is on the postcard. “Obergurgl in Tirol” is the answer. Together with his assistant Hitchcock then sets off on the then tiring journey from Munich to Obergurgl.

“Hitchcock is considered the best film director of the last century. That says everything about his importance for movie history.”

Johannes Köck, Head of Cine Tirol

An idyllic mountain village far away from civilization

Nowadays you can easily reach Obergurgl from Munich by car within 3 hours. Minimum effort, maximum difference: from the big city to the small mountain village, from the foothills of the Alps straight to the heart of the mountains. Around 100 years ago, in autumn 1925, things were still completely different. First, Hitchcock & team take the train from Munich to Innsbruck, then in an open car for 7 hours (!) to Ötztal and finally another two and a half hours on foot to Obergurgl.

But the journey was worth it. Obergurgl is exactly the picture postcard idyll that Hitchcock wanted: a romantic alpine village, idyllically located, with snow-capped mountains, lush meadows, deep green forests and far away from any civilization. Immediately after the climb, Hitchcock and his cameraman take the first shots in the outdoors. The next morning they are surprised by an early onset of winter, which has covered the entire landscape in a white coat. They then decide to descend to Umhausen.


Gurgl, the village in the “glacier crown”, lies at an altitude of 1,930 meters.

A volunteer fire brigade washing away the snow

Umhausen is also covered by a blanket of deep snow. After a few days of waiting and inaction, Hitchcock's crew has the ultimate idea. They convince the men of the volunteer fire brigade to wash away the snow with their hand pump. But it doesn't remain without incident either. The following quote from Alfred Hitchcock has come down to us: “(...) One of the house roofs gave way under the masses of water, and the landlady rightly complained about her flooded home. The mayor said that a shilling's worth of compensation would be appropriate for the woman. I gave her two. Judging by how happy she was, I could probably have flooded the entire village for ten shillings.” The film team then finally realized the planned outdoor shots.

A film that remains missing

In 1926 The Mountain Eagle celebrated its premiere. But visitors to cinemas in Germany, Great Britain and the USA do not seem to have much interest in the early work of then 27-year-old Hitchcock. The director himself is said to have later described the film as “awful”. The film soon disappears from cinemas and seemingly disappears forever. While copies of all other Hitchcock films exist, The Mountain Eagle remains missing. A few years ago, the British Film Institute (BFI) declared the movie the most wanted film in the world. A search that continues to this day.

Also for Johannes Köck (Head of Cine Tirol Film Commission) what happened to the film is “a mystery”. But he doesn't give up hope that there is still a copy of The Mountain Eagle somewhere in the world. Because there are always cinematic twists and turns. For example in 2011, when the first 30 minutes of the film The White Shadow - which was believed to have disappeared - were found in New Zealand. The 1923 movie is considered one of the first films where Hitchcock was involved in producing.


Any tip that gives us a clue to the whereabouts of the film is warmly welcome. We would be delighted if you take a closer look at your cellars and attics and talk to as many people as possible about this mystery of film history. The more people who keep their eyes and ears open, the greater the chance of bringing the world's most wanted film back to light.

Do you have any relevant information?
+43 512 5320-258
[email protected]

A landscape that is worthy of a film

The beauty of Tirol’s mountain landscape not only captivated the legendary director Hitchcock. Many top-class film and television productions have been shot in Tirol in recent decades. The most famous film “made in Tirol” is definitely JAMES BOND 007 – SPECTRE. Filmed in Sölden (Ötztal) and Obertilliach (East Tyrol). So what is it that keeps filmmakers from all over the world drawn to Tirol for their productions?

Johannes Köck, Head of Cine Tirol, names several success factors that set Tirol apart from the international competition as a filming location. In particular the “variety of alpine filming locations; the easy accessibility of even high alpine areas; the five perfectly developed glacier areas and the breathtaking mountain roads” are top arguments for Tirol as the number one location. In addition, according to Köck, there is the efficient infrastructure, the special architecture, the central location in Europe and the good cooperation with locals and partners on the spot. So Tirol is not “just” beautiful, but rather impressive in all its facets. By the way: this makes Tirol and especially Ötztal not only an ideal film location, but also a perfect event venue.


The Bond movie SPECTRE was partly filmed in Sölden, Ötztal.

“Ötztal is a true byword for film-friendliness. Every time we are in Ötztal with a production, it is a feeling of being very welcome. We get a lot of support and help from the locals.”

Johannes Köck, Head of Cine Tirol

A destination that is second to none

Scenic Ötztal, Tirol’s longest side valley and home to myriad superlatives. Stretching over a distance of 65 km, the valley is home to 250 peaks higher than three thousand meters, including Wildspitze as the highest mountain in Tirol, 1600 km of hiking trails, 6 ski areas, 363 fine slope kilometers and 5 different climatic zones. In addition to the huge choice of leisure time activities, it is above all the pristine nature that guests from around the globe appreciate and love in Ötztal.


Ski fans will find 112 immaculate slope kilometers in Gurgl from November to April.

“Ötztal is also one of country’s most attractive valleys from a film shooting perspective.”

Johannes Köck, Head of Cine Tirol

Obergurgl in particular, located at the very end of the valley, seems to have an almost magical appeal. In the mountain village at almost 2,000 m above sea level, Hitchcock wasn't the only one who found the alpine idyll he was looking for in 1925. Around 6 years after filming The Mountain Eagle, a world-famous scientist rather involuntarily gets to know Gurgl. In May 1931, the Swiss physicist Prof. Auguste Piccard had to make an emergency landing on Gurgler Ferner glacier during his first stratospheric flight. Obergurgl becomes world famous almost overnight. Also the Austrian economist and Nobel Prize winner Friedrich August von Hayek has a special connection to the small Tirolean mountain village. In Obergurgl’s Zirbenwald stone pine forest, not far from Gurgl Carat, he is said to have written his most famous work: “The Constitution of Freedom”.


“Zirbenwald” natural monument is home to stone pine trees that are over 300 years old.

Obergurgl is a place for poets and thinkers, for skiers and summer enthusiasts, for those hungry for adventure and those in search of relaxation. All of this makes the village in Tirol’s Ötztal the perfect location for your next event with spectacular side program.


  • Die Geierwally, 1940, cinema film
  • Die Lawine – Spuren eines Mörders, 2000, TV film
  • Snowfever, 2003, cinema film
  • Tatort: Der Teufel vom Berg, 2005, TV series
  • Bhoopathy, 2006, cinema film (Bollywood)
  • Mount St. Elias, 2007, cinema documentary
  • Universum: Land der Berge – 9 Länder, 9 Gipfel, 2011, TV documentary (ORF)
  • James Bond – Spectre, 2014/2015, cinema film
  • Germany’s Next Topmodel, 2018, TV show
  • Totenfrau, 2021, TV/VoD series

We would like to thank Cine Tirol Film Commission, with whose help and support this blog article was created.

Further information about The Mountain Eagle and about Filmland Tirol can be found here:
Website: https://www.cine.tirol
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CineTirol
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cinetirol



Lara Brunner

Lara Brunner is a freelance copywriter and specialist in content marketing. As a studied Germanist, she writes about all topics related to Gurgl Carat in the Carat.Blog. The Tirolean-by-choice seeks and finds inspiration for her texts amid unspoilt nature in Gurgl. That is why she spends most of her free time in the Ötztal mountains. With hiking boots or on skis, she prefers to explore the many three-thousand meter high summits in the immediate vicinity of Gurgl Carat.

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