The Lady Vanishes (1938) | Alfred Hitchcock’s clever comedy thriller never runs out of steam
Comedy! Chills! Chuckles! in a Mystery Express!
Intrigue and espionage abound when soon-to-be-married English tourist Iris (Margaret Lockwood) aboards a transcontinental express train back to England and strikes up an acquaintance with elderly English governess, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), who then disappears without a trace. With the help of a besotted musicologist (Michael Redgrave), Iris turns amateur sleuth to get to the bottom of the mystery?
The Film That Made ALFRED HITCHCOCK Master of Suspense!
Alfred Hitchcock once said that a train was his favourite setting for a movie because they offer such a perfect venue for generating suspense. This well-oiled 1938 comedy thriller, made at the legendary Gainsborough Studios in Islington, north London, is his most famous mystery film, and one of the pre-war features that helped pave his way to Hollywood.
Packed with twisty plots, a great sense of very British humour, and eccentric characters – courtesy of a great ensemble cast, The Lady Vanishes contains all the hallmarks of what would become Hitchcock’s stock-in-trade (including his eye for the ladies – just check out his cheeky champagne and chicken dinner scene).
Indeed, it’s so accomplished that it still holds up today (and still preferable in my books to the 1979 Hammer remake with Cybill Shepherd or the 2013 BBC TV movie with Tuppence Middleton), even the model train, studio sets and miniatures have a charm about them that’s hard not to like. This is vintage cinema magic – Hitchcock style. And, as for the cricket-loving Charters and Caldicott characters, they’re so very old school, they are hysterical! And not gay, at all!
THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
The Lady Vanishes is available on Blu-ray in the UK from 19 January, as part Network Distristributing’s The British Film collection, and is featured in a brand-new High Definition transfer from the original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio. There are no notes about the restoration accompanying the release. The special features include an introduction by film historian Charles Barr, original theatrical trailer, image gallery and pdf promotional material. These are also included on Network’s DVD 1008 release. A US Blu-ray version was brought out by the Criterion Collection in 2011.
• Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1930s features The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and Young and Innocent (1937) are also available on Blu-ray from Network Distributing from 19 January. Click on the links for more information. My reviews coming later this week.
Posted on January 12, 2015, in British Film, Classic, Must See, Must-See, Thriller and tagged 1930s British film, Alfred Hitchcock, Charters and Caldicott, Comedy thriller, Dame May Whitty, Gainsborough studios, Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Network Distributing, The British Film, The Lady Vanishes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.