If I had the chance to star in a Hitchcock’s film, my choice would have been The Lady Vanishes.
The Lady Vanishes was, as I said, directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock in 1938. It was produced by Gainsborough Pictures. Along with The 39 Steps, it is considered one of his best British films. It tells the story of Iris Henderson, a young English girl who is on her way to England to get married. The story begins in a little hotel somewhere in the Balkans. Here, Iris meets Miss Froy, a nice little old English lady, and Gilbert, an English musician without manners. Before she goes on the train, Iris is badly hurt by a flower-pot thrown from a high balcony. Miss Froy takes care of her and they travel in the same train compartment. About an hour later, Iris falls asleep. When she wakes up, Miss Froy is not in the compartment anymore. She asks the other passengers in the compartment if they have seen her, but they pretend that they have never seen her. All this is very strange, so Iris starts to investigate and search the train to find Miss Froy. There, she sees Gilbert who decides to help her. The two meet Dr. Harzt, a brain surgeon who tries to convince Iris that Miss Froy was only a mirage. Who is wrong and who is right? Where is Miss Froy? Was she real or not? I’ll leave you on that mystery because I won’t tell more for those who haven’t seen the movie yet.
The Lady Vanishes is one of my very favourite Hitchcock’s films. It is more precisely at the 6th place after The Man Who Knew Too Much, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Why do I love this film so much? First, I love the variety of the characters. There are many of them, but they are all very interesting: Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is the rich English girl, a little snobbish, but full of will; Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) is an English man who lives by his own way; Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) is an adorable English lady, Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Neuton Wayne) are two buddies obsessed with cricket, Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas) is the doctor who thinks that all this situation is “most interesting”, Eric (Cecil Parker) and Margaret (Linden Travers) are the runaway-lovers, Catherine Lacey plays the nun who wears high heels, etc. As you see, there are many interesting and funny characters in this film. The famous Googie Withers also has a small part as Blanche, Iris’s friend. Those characters all have a very different personality. It’s hard to choose a favourite because they are all fantastic and so brilliantly developed. I think mind would be Gilbert. In fact, Gilbert would be my favourite character of all Hitchcock’s filmography. The actors all give stunning performances.
The Lady Vanishes’s screenplay by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder is another reason to love the film. The story is very interesting and is developed in a way to keep your attention from the beginning until the end. There are also some memorable quotes. My favourite one is when Gilbert says to Iris: “Eyes for and eye and a tooth, for a toothbrush!” One of the greatest strengths of this movie and this screenplay is the touch of humour, a very British humour. Some situations are hilarious and that is also one of the factors that make the movie highly entertaining. You know, there is almost always a touch of humour in Hitchcock’s films. It can be black humour or not. This is, in fact, for me, the funniest Hitchcock’s film.
Sooner in this review, I told you that I would have loved to play in this film, as Iris of course! I imagine you are wondering why. Well, it’s simple, it just looks so nice to play in this film. I don’t know if it was a hard movie to shoot, but the fact that the main part of the action takes place on a train makes it sounds so exciting. You also have the chance to play an original character who progresses with other original characters. It would also have been a pleasure for me to play alongside the great Michael Redgrave and under the direction of the legendary Master of Suspense.
The first time I watched The Lady Vanishes, I immediately loved it. It’s the kind of movies that I can watch forever without getting tired of it because of all the reasons I just explained. It is also one of the movies that made me want to watch more English films of the 30’s and the 40’s, especially films starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. It is also one of the best Gainsborough Pictures’ films. In its top 1000 of the best movies of all times, the website They Shoot Pictures Don’t They? ranks The Lady Vanishes at the 565’s place.
For those who haven’t seen this movie yet, well what are you waiting for? Go! 😀