A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
Passengers on a scheduled train out of the mountainous European country of Mandrika are delayed by a day due to an avalanche, and thus get up close and personal with each other out of necessity in the only and what becomes an overcrowded inn in the area. Once the train departs, the one person who it is uncertain is on the train is a middle aged English governess named Miss Froy. Iris Henderson, who was vacationing in Mandrika with girlfriends before heading back to England to get married, is certain that Miss Froy was on the train as they were in the same compartment and they had tea together in the dining car, but all those people who can corroborate her story don't seem to want to do so. Iris' thoughts are easily dismissed as a possible concussion as Iris was hit over the head just before boarding the train. Iris will take anyone's help in finding Miss Froy, even that of an Englishman named Gilbert, a musicologist with who she had a not so pleasant encounter at the inn the evening ... Written by
Although Hitchcock was noted for his wit and often sprinkled his films with wickedly funny moments, he seldom gave comic elements such a free reign as he did in THE LADY VANISHES, which is among the most memorable of his early British films. Charmingly cast with Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, and Dame May Witty in the leads, the extremely witty script mixes 1930s romantic froth with increasingly tense suspense in the story of sharp witted young woman (Lockwood) who befriends an elderly lady (Witty) during a train journey--and is extremely disturbed when, as the title states, the lady vanishes.
Many regard this as the best of Hitchcock's early work, and it is easy to see why: the film demonstrates his growing talent for building suspense from an unlikely mix of the commonplace and the incredible. He is also remarkably blessed in his cast, with Lockwood and Redgrave possessing considerable chemistry and Dame May Witty particularly endearing in one of the character roles at which she so excelled; the supporting cast is also particularly memorable.
Hitchcock guides them all with never a misstep through a complex script that progresses from very lighthearted to extremely sinister and then back again, and the result leaves audiences with both the satisfaction of a well-made thriller and the glow of a romantic comedy. Although it lacks the subtle tones of his later work, THE LADY VANISHES is among my own favorites by Hitchcock, and fans who have never seen it are in for a real treat. Highly recommended.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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