The Lady Vanishes
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

In August 1938, American heiress Amanda Kelly (Cybill Shepherd), while on a drunken binge, meets English governess and music teacher Miss Froy (Angela Lansbury) on a train from Bavaria to Switzerland. When Mrs Froy suddenly vanishes, no one will believe (or admit) that she was ever on the train, chalking it up to Amanda's imagination and coupled with her drinking. It's only when Amanda meets American photographer Robert Condon (Elliott Gould), and the two start poking around, that they discover what is really going on.

The Lady Vanishes is a remake of The Lady Vanishes (1938), which was based on the novel The Wheel Spins by English crime writer Ethel Lina White [1876-1944]. The screenplay for the 1979 version was written by American screenwriter George Axelrod. Another remake, also called The Lady Vanishes was released in 2013.

How does the movie end?

The car carrying Amanda, Robert, Miss Froy, and several other passengers is detached from the train and diverted onto an isolated track where German Schutzstaffel (SS) soldiers are waiting to take Miss Froy into custody. A shootout takes place, during which Froy reveals to Robert and Amanda that she is a British spy. She teaches a tune to them, the same tune that she was heard whistling at the beginning of the movie, then escapes from a back window and makes a run for it while dodging bullets. Robert and Caldicott (Ian Carmichael) get the train started again, and they outrun the SS. When Robert and Amanda finally make it to London, singing the encrypted tune all the way, Amanda ducks into a cab with him in order to avoid her fianc who is waiting for her. They go to Whitehall to deliver the message, but suddenly they cannot remember the tune. In the final scene, as they try to remember it, they hear the tune being played on a piano. Opening the door into the piano room, they see Miss Froy playing it. She managed to escape successfully, and everyone happily hugs each other.

We never find out the actual message, other than Miss Froy's admission that she is acting on the orders of General von Reider and must get the message through because 'there's going to be a war, you know.' Even Froy admits that she doesn't know the meaning of the tune. This film, being a remake of an old Alfred Hitchcock film, uses Hitchcock's trademark...the 'McGuffin', which he described as "the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories, it is almost always the necklace and in spy stories it is most always the papers." The thing that characterizes a MacGuffin is that the content of the tune, the jewels, or the papers is not important and, most times, never even revealed. It is something very minor that is often never fully seen or explained but is central to the plot. In the original movie, Miss Froy explains only that ...it contains, in code of course, the vital clause of a secret pact between two European countries.'

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 5 months ago
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