The Lady Vanishes
Independent Films, Suspense Movies, Public Domain, Classic Movies
The Lady Vanishes (1938) is a thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and adapted by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder from the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White. It stars Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas and Dame May Whitty, and features Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Naunton Wayne, Basil Radford, Mary Clare, Googie Withers, Catherine Lacey and Sally Stewart.
The Lady Vanishes was one of Hitchock's last films to be made in the U.K. – only 1939's Jamaica Inn came before he moved to Hollywood and began making films there for David O. Selznick, starting with Rebecca, released in 1940. It was the great success of The Lady Vanishes, after a slump of three films that were not hits, that made it possible for Hitchcock to negotiate a very good deal to work in the States.
A remake, also entitled The Lady Vanishes, was made in 1979.
In Bandrika, a fictional country in an "uncivilized" region of immediately pre-World War II Central Europe, a motley group of travelers eager to return to England is delayed by an avalanche that has blocked the railway tracks. Among the train's passengers are Gilbert (Michael Redgrave), a young musicologist who has been studying the folk songs of the region, Iris (Margaret Lockwood), a young woman of independent means who has spent a holiday with some friends, but is now returning home to get married, and Miss Froy (May Whitty), an elderly lady who has worked some years abroad as a governess. When the train resumes its journey, Iris and Miss Froy become acquainted, while the remaining passengers in the compartment appear not to understand a word of English. Iris lapses into unconsciousness, the result of an earlier encounter with a falling flowerpot meant for Miss Froy. When Iris reawakens, the governess has vanished, and she is shocked to learn that the other passengers claim Miss Froy never existed. The other English travelers deny ever seeing her, for their own reasons. Fellow passenger Doctor Egon Hartz (Paul Lukas) convinces everyone that she must be hallucinating due to her accident. Undaunted, Iris starts to investigate, joined only by a skeptical Gilbert, with whom she eventually falls in love. They discover that Miss Froy is being held prisoner in a sealed-off compartment supposedly occupied by a seriously ill patient being transported to an operation. They manage to free her, but the train is diverted to a side track, where a shootout ensues. Miss Froy intimates to Gilbert and Iris that she is in fact a British spy assigned to deliver some vital information (the famous Hitchcock MacGuffin) to the Foreign Office in London; after entrusting her message, encoded in a folk song, to Gilbert, she flees under cover of the shootout. After managing to restart the train and escape, Gilbert and Iris return to London. At the Foreign Office, Gilbert, driven to joyful distraction when Iris accepts his marriage proposal, forgets the tune. Just as it appears the message has been lost, the coded folk song is heard in the background. Fortunately, Miss Froy has also made good her escape and is seen playing the song on a piano.
Year of Production: 1938
Country: United Kingdom
- Alfred Joseph Hitchcock
- Edward Black (uncredited)
- Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty