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The Lady Vanishes (1938)

I am so familiar with this film that I do wonder what there is to say.

So here are some random notes:

I adore the model shot at the beginning. I think that Orson Welles missed a trick when he didn’t include models in Citizen Kane if he really did say that the RKO studio was “the greatest electric train set a boy ever had.”

The chap who put that up thinks it’s awful! Personally I think awful is the insertion of a modern horse race in MGM’s 1935 Anna Karenina when Vronsky falls off his mount. MGM was the richest studio at the time and stunts like that had been done successfully for years so there is no reason for them to be so cheap (and particularly since the rest of the sequence is so exciting). Hitchcock having fun with his own train set isn’t really that terrible a thing to do.

Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave had textbook onscreen chemistry. I know that Andy disagrees but I could have done with seeing that chemistry between Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in The 39 Steps. He is a bit of arse at the beginning though.

Redgrave and Lockwood
Redgrave and Lockwood
Redgrave and Lockwood

There are a couple more notable duos in The Lady Vanishes. One pair seem more boorish the more I watch the film but it would have been shorter if Charters and Caldicott hadn’t been cricket obsessed rotters. Linden Travers makes the most of a small role as “Mrs” Todhunter. Lots of things can be said about Hitchcock and women and most of it is annoying bollocks about the Hitchcock blonde (go on pretend that Ingrid Bergman is blonde (though I concede it is a thing post Grace Kelly) but he knew how to populate his film with interesting and rounded female characters and how to get good performances from them. Looking further into this film we have the high-heeled nun Catherine Lacey memorable for her change of heart, Googie Withers and co as Lockwood’s chums (think how funny their dialogue is), and scary Mary Clare as the steely baroness. And May Whitty!

My favourite scene is the fight in the luggage van which is beautifully choreographed, rather tense, and bizarrely at the same time hilarious.

Fight in the luggage van

Alma fact: continuity
Transport: train, cars, ship
Animals: calf, rabbits
Source: Alfred Hitchcock - The Early Years DVD (Concorde Video)

Thanks to 1000 Frames of Hitchcock.

Let's Fold Scarves / last build: 2024-04-03 21:27