Friday, March 11, 2011

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

**This article was contributed by Publius, who maintains a book- and film-review site at Worthy of Note.  Enjoy this review of Hitchock's early classic!**

I don't consider myself much of a connoisseur of Hitchcock films.  I've seen my fair share -- "The 39 Steps" was my first, and "Rope" may be my favorite --  but my personal preference is for more recent films.  On the other hand, whenever I discover a new Hitchcock film I know for a fact that I'm in for a treat, so occasionally I carve out to time to watch one.  Thus I found myself watching "The Lady Vanishes," one of Hitchcock's last works before he moved to produce for American studios, and the film that firmly established his early reputation.

The first half-hour or so of the film is quite slow.  A large number of passengers are waiting for a train that has been snowed in, and must stay overnight at an already crowded inn.  We first see the events of the film through the eyes of two British gentlemen, Charters and Coldicott, utterly enraptured by the sport of cricket and utterly enraged at their inability to learn the score. They meet a young happy couple on their honeymoon -- a secret kept from both their real spouses -- and a chatterbox of an English governess, Ms. Froy (played by the inimitable Dame May Whitty).  At length we shift perspectives to Iris, a beautiful but rather spoiled young lady vacationing in Europe on her distant fiance's money. She bribes the innkeeper to stop the noise coming from the room above her, and meets the charming and worldly Gilbert, who was trying to transcribe a local country dance. Finally, as the night concludes, we return to Ms. Froy, listening in raptures to the trilling melody of a serenading guitarist.

As the music ends, the guitarist is strangled.

**Finish reading this article at Worthy of Note reviews**