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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
THE LADY VANISHES is the third adaptation of an old-time mystery novel. It was first made - to great success - by Hitchcock in the 1930s, and then a remake with Cybil Shepherd and Elliott Gould followed in the 1970s. This new version is a TV movie made by the BBC, and - somewhat inevitably - it's the weakest version yet.
The problem with this adaptation is a mixture of both the script and the budget. It's obviously made to cash in on the success of DOWNTON ABBEY, but there's far too much of the socialising and not enough of the thriller. The first half hour is excruciatingly slow and even once the action shifts to the train it doesn't get much better. The scenes on the train feel claustrophobic and not in a good way; Hitch's version ended with a rousing action scene, but the drawn-out mystery here just fizzles out with a lack of inspiration and budget constraints.
The cast is no better. Tuppence Middleton (TORMENTED) is the detestable heroine, and required to undergo a character arc from snobby and rude to warm and caring, but Middleton is too inexperienced to convince in the part. The likes of Keeley Hawes and Julian Rhind-Tutt are merely window dressing, their performances weak imitations of their roles in UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and THE HOUR respectively. As for Gemma Jones and Stephanie Cole, the actresses are game but their comedy value is virtually nil. Jesper Christensen must be thinking that his days of starring in James Bond movies are long in the past with this pitiful, by-the-numbers TV drama.
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