Lady Vanishes, The (1938)

The Lady Vanishes (1938), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Fun, intricate romance/comedy/suspense film, a must-see for Hitchcock fans or anyone who enjoys the genre. Truffaut used to see it twice a week in Paris.

The first 30 minutes has plenty of comic material in the overcrowded hotel, but honestly seems a bit slack. It picks up and moves along nicely after we board the train, culminating in a big shoot-out. The illusion of being on a moving train is really very good for the period. The plot: plausibility is the least of the director's concerns.

Michael Redgrave was not much interested in his own performance at first, but after Paul Lukas convinced him the movie was worth taking seriously he reapplied himself. The chemistry between the leads is just starting to cook by the time the film is done.

Mentally fuzzy but ultimately stalwart cricket fans Charters and Caldicott, in their first appearance, are the best thing in the movie. They return in the somewhat similar Night Train to Munich (1940), also with Margaret Lockwood. This disc includes their own feature film, Crook's Tour (1941), which I remember as being just so-so.

Criterion Blu-ray, available for rent from ClassicFlix. Netflix has it on DVD; I'm not sure from what label.

The commentary track points out that Hitchcock had a hard time getting male leads in the 1930s. Robert Donat was who he wanted, but he was available only for The 39 Steps (1935). The commentator also notes that the women are stronger and more aware than the men here.