January 18, 2012

The Lady Vanishes (1938)


Alfred Hitchcock is one of the legendary directors in the history of film, and I say this without even seeing a significant amount of his movies. I've seen 20 of them, including the well-known pictures from his mid-career like Notorious, Vertigo, Rear Window, and North by Northwest. My blind spot rests in his early British career, where he used smaller budgets but created some remarkable little thrillers. A prime example is The Lady Vanishes, which I caught for the first time last month. The new Criterion Blu-ray release offered the perfect opportunity to discover this classic that mixes thrills, romance, a detective story, and a few laughs. It starts slowly at a hotel, but these moments comfortably introduce us to the key players. By the time we reach the final gunfight, we're definitely pulling for their survival. This story also employs one of Hitchcock's more ridiculous MacGuffins, an overly complicated device involving the memorization of a certain tune. It's a fun movie that holds up really well to repeated viewings even after the villains are known. For more details, check out my review for PopMatters of Hitchcock's last great British film.

4 comments:

  1. I think it's funny that you think 20 is not a "significant amount" of films!

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    1. I know. It's a good point, but he has directed more than 50, so I still feel like I'm just scratching the surface. It's on the list with the many, many other marathon ideas.

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  2. By coincidence I saw The Lady Vanishes about 6 months after seeing Flightplan (2005). I had no idea that the Jodie Foster movie was essentially a remake of the classic Hitchcock film. It was interesting to see what elements worked in both, even though they were made almost 70 years apart.

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    1. Chip, it's funny because I've seen Flightplan but didn't make the connection until you mentioned it. It's been a few years since I saw it, but it's definitely very similar.

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