Film Review: The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Release Date: October 7th, 1938
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder, Alma Reville
Based on: The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White
Music by: Louis Levy, Charles Williams (both uncredited)
Cast: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty

Gainsborough Pictures, Gaumont British, United Artists, 97 Minutes

Review:

“I’ve no regrets. I’ve been everywhere and done everything. I’ve eaten caviar at Cannes, sausage rolls at the dogs. I’ve played baccarat at Biarritz and darts with the rural dean. What is there left for me but marriage?” – Iris Henderson

This was one of the last British pictures that Alfred Hitchcock did before coming to Hollywood to ply his trade for a larger audience. It is also considered to be in his upper echelon. While I enjoy it, to me, it isn’t on the same level as most of his stuff from the 1950s and early 1960s.

The story is a mystery but even for 1930s standards, the mystery element of the plot seems a bit far fetched.

A young woman meets a nice old woman. While on a train, the old woman goes missing. The young woman asks everyone on the train about the older woman’s whereabouts but everyone denies that such a woman was even on the train. Of course, the younger woman is not delusional. Everyone on the train that denies seeing the older woman is lying. The problem is that everyone lying has their own personal reasons for doing so. So there isn’t a big conspiracy, it’s just a big strange coincidence with a lot of extra layers.

The bulk of the picture deals with the mystery part of the story. Although, there is an entertaining twenty minutes or so before the characters even get on the train and then the film is capped off with a confrontation with soldiers. A spy element is introduced to the plot, as well.

This is a good picture, despite my complaints with the narrative. Everyone else really seems to love the movie but I just can’t put it up there with Hitchcock’s better work.

Although, I did enjoy that the main girl in this Hitchcock picture was actually a brunette for a change.

Plus, the miniature work in the opening shot was really well executed.

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