Monday, May 9, 2011

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

I am on an Alfred Hitchcock kick right now, which I love. He may stand as one of the more mainstream, "classic" film figures, but I think it's in good reason. His films always prove suspenseful, clever, and full of chic costumes. Though perhaps less widely-seen, The Lady Vanishes adheres to these qualities with as much grace as popular works. 

When Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) boards a train, she befriends an older woman named Miss Froy. Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty, who plays the "cute old lady" card flawlessly) soon disappears, and everyone Iris asks claims she never came on the train. Iris suspects more sinister moves, and enlists fellow passenger Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) to prove Miss Froy's existence.

Unfortunately, I cannot write more, as I would spoil the rest, but I enjoyed this. Usually I predict outcomes early, but the surprises remained refreshing. The train setting enhanced the suspense here, as the claustrophobic environment trapped each claim and character. Also, while Lockwood and Redgrave maintained chemistry, rarely does a film include an ensemble cast that works together to create such a believable set of characters. The ending contains more outrageous events, but I still felt they could happen to me, or anyone, at any time.

Finally, Lockwood's one costume was fabulous. I cannot find the costume credit anywhere (maybe Edith Head?), but I loved watching her stumble around the train her little black dress and pumps. It made me want to try harder when I travel.



Shybiker said...

I'm thrilled when you put a spotlight on good films from that past that are often overlooked. This is one of them.

Hitchcock was, as you say, a very talented filmmaker which is an assessment that can be made separate from his public persona. I love many of his films, usually the lesser-known ones.

Your blog does a public service!

Artman2112 said...

yes hitchcock is def "mainstream" classic but that's because 1. he made incredible films and 2. he was a master of not only suspense but of combining deeply personal self expression with commercial sensibility. he was a master craftsman and a brilliant artist. he was also a brilliant self promoter! Hitch is my all time fave director and i cant even calculate how many hours of my life i've spent absrobed in his films. i was about 18 when my Hitchcock obsession kicked off with my first ever viewing of Rear Window. after that i couldnt devour his work fast enough! Lady Vanishes is one of the best of his "Gaumont-British" body of work, perhaps matched only by The 39 Steps. btw Hitch LOVED trains and used them many many times thoughout his career (Shadow of a doubt, strangers on a train, north by northwest and more) a quick check on Edith head at IMDB and there's no credit for this film as well as no credit for any films i can see outside of the USA and Lady Vanishes was made in England.

i cant remember the actors names, but those two guys obsessed with cricket almost stole the film didnt they? they were so droll and hilarious! if i recall correctly they went on to appear in other films as those same 2 characters. nice post, glad you enjoyed that film :D

Kori Donahue said...

I can't wait to see this one! Have a great Monday honey! Kori xoxo

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