Thursday, October 27, 2011

Vintage Movies: The Lady Vanishes

Iris Henderson: Well, I don't see how a thing like cricket can make you forget seeing people.
Charters: Oh, don't you? If that's your attitude, there's nothing more to be said! Come, Caldicott. "A thing like cricket!"
One of the biggest names in movies from the first half of the 1900s was, of course, Alfred Hitchcock. He had a long and varied career, with most of which I am entirely unacquainted and with some of which I am unimpressed. The Lady Vanishes, on the other hand, is extremely good.
It's a snowy night in the little mountain country of Mandrika and a little village hotel is stuffed to the rafters with people trying to get back to England and points west. The train is delayed, so its passengers are forced to try to find a room to themselves: Iris Henderson, an American socialite returning home; Gilbert, a young musical eccentric who won't take any nonsense; Miss Froy, a sweet little Miss-Marple-type who won't stop chattering about her governessing jobs; Caldicott and Charters, two Englishmen very disgruntled about possibly missing the next big cricket game; and many others.
Nothing odd happens right away. But the next morning, on the train, Iris wakes after a nap to find that the friendly Miss Froy has vanished without a trace. Even more disturbing is the fact that every other person on the train denies having ever seen her. Is Iris surrounded by conspirators, or has she gone mad?
The Lady Vanishes is another excellent vintage movie, full of humour and mystery. Or to put it another way: spies, secret messages, an excellent demonstration of why you should never get into a fight in a moving vehicle filled with magician's contraptions, and wit:
I never think you should judge any country by its politics. After all, we English are quite honest by nature, aren't we?

As usual with this kind of movie, it's relatively family-friendly as long as half the family doesn't get some of the jokes.

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