Returning home from the Balkans in the 1930s Iris Carr boards a train with fellow Brits the elderly Floodporter sisters,brusque vicar Barnes and his fretful wife and a reticent couple who are plainly having an affair. After a blow on the head Iris is befriended by brisk Miss Froy,former governess to a family headed by a chilly baroness travelling with her poorly sister and medical staff. When Miss Froy disappears everybody denies ever seeing her,claiming Iris is hallucinating after the knock to the head. Only language student Max Hare is sympathetic and even he has his doubts when a German woman is produced and passed off as the missing lady. Max even unwittingly becomes part of the plot to dissuade Iris from her search for the truth but is eventually swayed by her persistence and helps her solve the mystery of her friend's disappearance. Written by
don @ minifie-1
Sunday night fare but not much beyond that easy target audience
Sunday night is not the time for invention or challenge or innovation, it is a time for unwinding, for enjoying the last few hours of not working before you have to return to Monday and not relaxing. As such it is the home of things like Marple, Midsummer Night Murders and other shows which provide drama but dress it up with comfortable, non-threatening color and light entertainment. This is what brings us a new version of The Lady Vanishes. It is quite a move to step up to a story that Hitchcock has already told in a manner that has stood as the version since it was made, but in reality this version is happy to focus on fitting the timeslot rather than doing something with the story.
It tells you all you need to know when the things that appear to have been worked on the hardest are the sets and the costumes very BBC Sunday night, lots of good period costumes and everything has good quality in that regard. It has that proper English feel throughout but the problem is that it doesn't really know what it wants to be other than a rather safe, warm Sunday night slice of easy. I was looking for something in the way of humor, or maybe tension or perhaps even a playful mix of the two, but nothing of the sort ever came. The result is a rather bland and safe TV movie that offers nothing of note but presents it in a very warm and professional way with lots of nice but unmemorable people in it.
Unfortunately the least of these people is Middleton, who is in the lead role. She fails at being distressed, she fails at being playfully sexy and generally she distinguishes herself by how little of an impression she makes. The rest of the cast do little else the Baroness and those around her are too much pantomime but without the fun and nothing ever really sparks as it should. The chemistry between Middleton and Hughes is not there at all each do their own version of flirty but it doesn't meet in the middle.
It isn't a terrible film by any means it does what it does and knows what its target audience wants at the time it was screened. It I hard to avoid how very bland it is no real lows I guess, but certainly no highs or anything to recommend it for. I worried that it would fall short of the Hitchcock film of the same name I needn't have though, because it doesn't even really try to get close. Watch it for the warm colors and nice costumes, but there isn't much else here.
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