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The Lady Vanishes Reviews

Page 2 of 45
August 13, 2014
Ah, the last Hitchcock movie before he came to America. This movie is really good and is up there with his other great movies.
August 3, 2014
Funny, suspenseful and very enjoyable. What else to ask for?
July 4, 2014
I'm not very familiar with Hitchcock's early, more British films, so I had no expectations going into this, but I have to say that I was quite impressed by this film. The film follows a woman who wakes up to find that her companion on a train ride has disappeared, and in her search for the truth uncovers an involving conspiracy endangering those around her. It's a top-notch thriller that's engaging, entertaining, but also very funny. I loved all the characters, particularly the way the film pokes fun at the posh British travelers. If you're at all a fan Hitchcock, The Lady Vanishes is one of his early films that is worth checking out. I had a great time with it (much to my surprise).
January 11, 2011
While the first act is slow it rapidly becomes an intriguing mystery and ultimately an elaborate thriller.
June 22, 2014
Direção inventiva e sofisticada de Hitchcock, aliada a uma narrativa perspicaz, irreverente e irônica, dá origem a uma obra bastante divertida e, ao mesmo tempo, progressivamente intrigante, envolvente e tensa. Em síntese, um digno entretenimento regado ao melhor "estilo britânico".
Riccardo T.
June 13, 2014
One of the greatest movies ever made. A+
February 22, 2014
After the first 45 minutes, which are a delight to watch, the plot spirals out of control and any interest I had in the story and characters, like the lady, vanished.
June 5, 2014
I'm ashamed to admit I prefer the streamlined 2009 version released by the BBC.
April 29, 2014
This film comes highly recommended to Alfred Hitchcock fans.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 15, 2014
Wow, I heard that this was one of Alfred Hitchcock's more fluffy thrillers, but I wasn't expecting it to be about something as fun as magicians. Oh, now, come on, people, don't tell me that you weren't thinking that when you see this film's title, or even that this film involves a train, the preferred form of transportation for circus folks, but no, don't get too excited, because this isn't that festive. Well, to be fair, I don't know if Hitchcock making a woman disappear is much of a laughing matter, because you couldn't trust him around blondes, and it would be easy to hide them behind that gut. Man, Hitch sure did love his gravy, which is why he took a train of the gravy nature to Hollywood shortly after this film. Well, either the financial opportunities brought him over here, or the fact that probably shouldn't have showed his face around Britain for a while after "Jamaica Inn", but as far as people are concerned, this was Hitchcock's last, pre-"Stage Fright" hooray in his hometown, and boy, he sure does make it count. Seriously, this film is so British that, while it saw a hiatus on Hitchcock's, it also saw the debut of everyone's favorite recurring pair of supporting-cast cricket connoisseurs, Charters and Caldicott, and if you remember those blokes, well, my friend, how are you still alive? I'd say, "jokes aside", but, again, this is one of Hitchcock's less urgent thrillers, and not just on purpose, being pretty engaging, but not as thrilling as, well, a circus act, and for a couple reasons.

While black-and-white, the film's ensemble cast is pretty colorful, and that would be great and all if the many members of this character roster were more thoroughly developed, as the film, at just over 90 minutes, isn't long enough to flesh out its sizable cast, which feels overblown due to its being undercooked, not unlike the film's tonal layers. Just as the cast isn't especially immense, the film's tonal layers aren't especially dynamic, rarely losing its light heart, which upon being pumped up a little bit, convolutes the sense of momentum of this comedic thriller, though not without the help of inconsistencies in pacing that place a more direct plague on momentum. Well, maybe pacing isn't all that inconsistent, because its lively spells are mighty limited, compared to the limp spells, initiated by meandering material, and anchored by very British dry spell in atmosphere that range from bland to kind of dull. Sure, the film is pretty entertaining on the whole, based on its overwhelming charm and wit, but Alfred Hitchcock's questionably thoughtful approach to Sidney Gilliat's and Frank Launder's meandering scripting slow momentum down more than it should, especially if the film is trying to keep you from thinking about just how thin its narrative is. With all of my talk of undercooking, this film doesn't have much depth to flesh out, and as much as I talk of pacing inconsistencies, this story concept doesn't carry that much momentum, being ultimately more fluffy than intense as a comedic thriller, and therefore limited in potential that still isn't all that thoroughly explored. I don't know if the film is so much lazy as much as its interpretation of a story that is too intentionally thin for its own good is itself too intentionally thin for its own good, keeping you going as it drags its way to underwhelmingness, but ultimately reaching an improvable destination nonetheless. Of course, like the train it features, the film carries on, at least as decent, having its shortcomings, both natural and consequential, but also carrying plenty of strengths, both in its narrative and in its production value.

Well, there's not much production value to this minimalist film which is primarily isolated on a train, yet such a setting is mighty well-put together by Maurice Carter's, Albert Jullion's and Albert Whitlock's art direction, whose designs are dynamic enough to give you a certain sense of scale to this environment, tight enough to help immerse you, with the help of appealing cinematography by Jack E. Cox, as well as an appealing cast. Though underdeveloped, this film's character roster is, as I said earlier, pretty colorful, with dynamic and potentially memorable characters who are done about as much justice as they can be by across-the-board charismatic performances. Everyone boasts distinguished charm, and between the charm is chemistry that drives the interactions which in turn drive this narrative, whose effectiveness is anchored, but not defined by the performances, no matter how charismatic. No, what can make or break the engagement value of this lighthearted thriller is the efforts of Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, whose script is seriously underdeveloped, draggy and tonally uneven, shaking the film's momentum as both a comedy and a psychological drama, yet when the writing hits, it hits pretty hard in drawing memorable, if minimalist set pieces, and thoroughly clever humor. Even the more tense aspects of the film are handled reasonably well, with suspenseful subtlety that isn't flowed into from color especially organically, but highlights engagement value about as much as heights in comedic wit, at least on paper. When it comes to the final product, it's up to director Alfred Hitchcock to bring life to the script's own bite, limited though it may be, and while Hitchcock's dryness blands matters up more than it probably should on more than a few occasions, the thoughtfulness has enough sharpness to subtly draw you towards the style and substance of this comedic thriller. Again, I don't know if the film is so much lazy, as much as it's simply limp, ostensibly on purpose, and such an approach is too questionable for the final product to be memorable, but there's enough entertainment value to hold your attention, at least up to a point.

When it comes time to pull your own vanishing act, you leave a film whose natural narrative limitations are stressed enough by underdevelopment and glaring inconsistencies in tone and pacing to make the final product barely memorable, but while your time is being occupied by this affair, sharp production value, charismatic performances, clever writing and thoughtful direction make Alfred Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" adequately entertaining, despite its questionable aspects.

2.5/5 - Fair
March 3, 2014
Watching from a modern perspective, I have to be honest and say that "Lady" became just too convoluted by its end, but it still managed to keep the suspense flowing throughout. It seems this was just a taste of what was to come from the magnificent director.
February 13, 2014
Fun and interesting, but not quite up there with Hitchcock's most memorable. The characters are good and the plot is decent yet slow at times, and it ends rather generically.
January 28, 2014
Funny and suspenseful.
January 17, 2014
A film that's a pleasure to watch and admire, comedy mixed with suspense and great British stiff upper lip and unfazed characters only Hitchcock can blend this masterfully.
January 14, 2014
The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938)

The Lady Vanishes is prime Hitchcock, one of his early masterworks, and one that, traditionally, has gotten very little press. Could that be because it was one of the last films he made in Britain before becoming a part of the Hollywood machine? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know I intend to do anything I can, as one small voice in the wilderness, to try and elevate The Lady Vanishes in the American consciousness to its rightful place at the top of the Hitchcock heap with other timeless works like Rope, North by Northwest, Psycho, and Rear Window (and, while I know I am in the minority on this one, his silent film The Manxman, which I adored). It's a textbook in the construction of a humorous mystery with dark undertones, and in that regard, I'm not sure it has ever been equalled.

Plot: Iris Henderson (Night Train to Munich's Margaret Lockwood), dissolute debutante by trade, is on her way home to England to be married when an avalanche delays her train. She, and the rest of the passengers, are put up in a hotel for the night while the tracks are cleared, and she makes the acquaintance of a number of charming oddballs, including Gilbert (The Importance of Being Earnest's Michael Redgrave), a dashing musicologist who finds himself entirely too interested in the bride-to-be. The next morning, Iris finds herself sharing a carriage with one Miss Froy (Gaslight's May Whitty). The two become fast friends, share tea, and make plans to go to lunch. Iris goes off to take a nap; when she awakens, Miss Froy is nowhere to be found, and no one else on the train professes to remember her at all. Gilbert, of course, is all to willing to help Iris, and the two of them set about trying to prove that Miss Froy did indeed exist, despite everyone else on the train insisting the contrary.

It's all quite fun stuff, if a little terrifying in hindsight given the year it was made and the exploits of the following six in those same frosty mountain countries. The characters are pitch-perfect, even the minor ones; the cricket-mad travellers Caldicott and Charters, played by Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, proved so popular that they spawned their own series of films. If that's not a recommendation, I don't know what is. (Unlike Ma and Pa kettle, however, Caldicott and Charters never overshadowed the film from which they sprung.) Hitchcock does a fantastic job of slipping in the dark undertones-everyone knew which way the wind was blowing in 1938, one figures-without ever forgetting that he's making a comedy as much as he's making a mystery, and casting the darkness as shading the light, rather than overpowering it. It's a marvelous balancing act, and like most of Hitch's comedies, it tends to be overlooked when people start talking about great Hitchflicks. When's the last time you saw Family Plot or The Trouble with Harry on a list of the ten best Hitchcock movies? (I'd argue both belong, as well as this one.) If there are minor quibbles to be had with the movie, they come with the tight budget with which Hitchcock was obviously working, but if you peruse the IMDB message board for the film, you will see quite a few people arguing that the movie's low-budget touches are part of its charm. Your mileage may vary. Still, this is an excellent film, all too underseen, that richly deserves rediscovery by new generations of film fans. ****
Hatem A.
December 5, 2013
One of Hitchcock's most famous British film before moving to the US, "The Lady Vanishes" centers on the disappearance of Ms. Froy (Dame May Whitty), an elderly British governess/music teacher, on a Europe train to London that is only noticed by younger travel companion Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) who is on her way to be married. Iris is helped on her search by young musicologist Gilbert (Michael Redgrave in his first lead film role) but problem is no one on the train claims to have seen her.

Enjoyable mystery with excellent buildup (first third of the movie) to the main event as we get a proper introduction to the characters at an inn the night before as an avalanche delays their journey. The best thing about the movie is that it adequately develops all of its eclectic characters, including brain surgeon Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas), lawyer Mr. Todhunter (Cecil Parker) and his mistress (Linden Travers), as well as Basil Radford and Nauton Wayne first outing as cricket-loving British enthusiasts Charters and Caldicott (they played these characters in a number of subsequent non-Hitchcock movies). The purpose of the relatively large cast is known in the film's final act when all fates are linked in a way. However, when all is revealed in the final act, the movie loses momentum and risks turning into a silly espionage action flick. Based on the 1936 novel "The Wheel Spins" by Ethel Lina White.
December 4, 2013
always remember the small details.
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

August 14, 2010
This film is one of Hitchcock's most famous, and earliest triumphs in London, gliding him into box office fame, and inspiring an entire new generation of filmmakers. With this, his most complex and inciting work to date, the master of suspense really drags out the plot until it finally unravels in a most thrilling fashion. Hitchcock took a tale from 1880's London and transposed it for modern audiences, set it in a fictional European country, and included spies, gunfights, and an array of violence. The film is set on a train, uses very little setting, and concerns only a handful of people. Iris (Lockwood) is riding the train with an older woman she met at a hotel in the foreign country of Baldrika. Now, the fictitious country really could be anywhere in Eastern Europe, but I got the sense that it was trying to convey somewhere in Western Russia, because between the accents and the uniformity of the officers depicted, that's what I thought of. Iris and Miss. Froy (Whitty) board the train after Iris suffers an accident, and probably gets a concussion. She passes out, and when she awakes everyone on the train says that she must have imagined her. The rest of the film Iris and Gilbert (Redgrave) try to find her amongst the luggage, lying train staff, and comedic foils (Wayne and Radford). This remains one of Hitchcock's better remembered films because the premise is so strange. Someone disappearing happens quite a bit, but for that person to be regarded as imaginary, really makes it a psychological rollercoaster. In the last twenty minutes it shifts radically from a suspenseful thriller to action thriller. After the plot is unraveled for the audience and the villain has given exposition on their plan, there's a gunfight aboard the train, and the tone shifts radically. That was very surprising, especially since it made the film even more suspenseful. This may be the first action film of its kind, pairing wit and humor with unapologetic violence. Hitchcock melds genres for the first time, and it's as seamless as expected.
October 30, 2013
what a surprise this was. it is actually still funny today. most comedies of the era seem to fall flat to the modern viewer but there's wit and charm everywhere here. the mystery plot was very well done also. the ending was a bit clumsy and loses the momentum the film has built up, but overall enjoyable.
December 30, 2011
I ask you to imagine that you are getting ready to board a train the following day. In that time before you get on the train the next day, you make a new friend who will also be on the same train that you are going on. When you are boarding the train the next day, someone drops something on your head (whether it's accidental or intentional remains to be seen) and your new friend helps you get to your seat. Your train is now progressing to its destination and your friend is taking care of you for the beginning of your travel. They buy you a cup of tea to heal your headache and you share a conversation in which you learn more about each other. Then, you both go back to your seats and you take a nap. Now, imagine that after waking up from this nap, your friend does not appear to be in their seat.

You ask the other passengers nearby about the whereabouts of your friend. You describe what your friend looks like to them, that way they know who you are talking about. Not only do they claim that they have not seen them, but they also claim that they have never heard of such a person sitting there. You ask any person you can come across on the train who has seen this person when you were with them. They say the same thing as the people you've talked to earlier. You simply refuse to believe what they are saying, and insist that you indeed were accompanied by this person. No matter how hard you try, you cannot convince anyone that such a person was on the train. Are you just imagining things or is there something rather fishy going on in this train ride?

In the case of Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood), the main character of director Alfred Hitchcock's outstanding 1938 British comic thriller The Lady Vanishes, that is exactly the dilemma she is left to face. In her search for the whereabouts of an elderly former governess by the name of Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), she is accompanied by a young musicologist named Gilbert (Michael Redgrave). She does not care for him at first due to his behavior the night before, but as he assists her in solving this case, that all changes of course. As these two get closer and closer to solving this mind-boggling disappearance, they discover that there is much more behind this disappearance than they expected.

Without giving anything away, there is a big plot development revealed later in the film that is very well built-up and very surprising both at the same time. High praise should be given to Hitchcock and screenwriters Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder for the film's masterful storytelling and pacing. I really admire how they let the story play out as naturally as it did since they made it feel like everything is unfolding right before our eyes. As a result, the film never feels predictable or contrived so much as it feels realistic and full of surprises around the corner. In able for a relatively simple story such as this to still hold up well decades after its original release, it should be able to retain an execution similar to what Hitchcock does here with The Lady Vanishes.

But as terrific as Alfred Hitchcock's direction is, credit must also go to screenwriters Gilliat and Launder for giving Hitchcock a worthy screenplay to work with. I am very enthusiastic over how they wrote and set up the story, so that it could have been possible that Iris was imagining this person the whole time. It just makes Iris all the more sympathetic with her peculiar dilemma and gives each of these other characters a mysterious quality to them. Credit must also go to the main actors of the picture including Lockwood, Redgrave, Whitty, and Paul Lukas as a brain surgeon who proposes that our main character could be under hallucination. The actors incorporate enough charm and intelligence into their characters that they become more than plot devices used to progress the story, they feel like real people.

It had been said that The Lady Vanishes was the film that convinced David O. Selznick, renowned producer of Gone With the Wind (1939), that Alfred Hitchcock had a future in making films in Hollywood and it is safe to say that he was right. After this film became a huge success in Britain where it first premiered, Hitchcock would eventually move to America to work on his first American film, Rebecca (1940), and eventually bring us classics like Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958). In a way, The Lady Vanishes is arguably Hitchcock's first real classic that he ever directed. So any hardcore fans of Alfred Hitchcock's work owe it to themselves to see The Lady Vanishes as soon as possible, if they haven't already.
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