Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Lady Vanishes 1938

Hitchcock, 95m

Hitchcock's comedic streak is at it's wittiest in this film. There is a build up of suspense as a lady literally vanishes into thin air and my guess is that Hitchcock must have created the mystery without having devised a solution and then wound it up as best as he could. It is a light and lively movie bubbling with life and mischief, including a pair of cricket crazy comedians and a whole pack of European (the traditional source of the commodity) villains . Most of the action takes place on a moving steam locomotive and that gives ample scope for a  variety of monkey tricks. The strength of the film lies in the freshness and of the script, the sparkling repartee and the youthful romance. It is a package of light entertainment, good enough to kill an idle hour and a half.

After all, Hitchcock was a mere thirty nine and the real wickedness and mastery of medium still a corner or two away. The film was immensely popular when it came out.
Criterion Essay


Nathanael Hood said...

I remember when I first started to watch movies from a serious standpoint. I knew that I would have to eventually watch the works of Hitchcock.

I had already seen "The Birds" which was fun. But "The Lady Vanishes" opened my mind to what Hitchcock was capable of.

I have recently gone on to track down and watch all of Hitchcock's surviving films (all 50+) of them.

Even after seeing all of them, this one still stands out in my mind as a classic.

S. M. Rana said...

It was enjoyable, till the chase, gunfight and the improbable yet conventional finale, which is overlookable.

In any case boring is one thing he doesn't know how to be and he has you in his spell, no matter what.

Nathanael Hood said...

Oh....Hitchcock could be VERY boring. Trust me.

Try watching "The Farmer's Wife" and "Juno and the Paycock" not shoot yourself.

But it was around this point in his career where he had figured out who he was and how to utilize his own style. There would still be misfires for Hitchcock further down the line, but they wouldn't be as bad as the bad films that he made before "The Lady Vanishes."

S. M. Rana said...

Well, you have performed a feat by watching all 50+--actually all?--of his films!

Nathanael Hood said...


It took me almost 3 years.

Some of them I had to order special copies from foreign countries!

But it was worth it.

I found that of the 50+ films that Hitchcock made, a whopping 20 of them were not very good.

Think about that for a second.

20 bad films from the man who is frequently considered the best director who ever lived.

Just goes to show that you can't always get it right.

Just Another Film Buff said...

Just discovered your blog a few weeks back, Mr. Rana. Wonderful work here on great films. This is one of the very few world cinema blogs I know from India.

Will try to read regularly. Regards.

S M Rana said...

Just another Film Buff