Friday, December 26, 2008

"The Lady Vanishes"

Alfred Hitchcock, 1938.

Iris wakes from a nap to find her friend Miss Froy has disappeared.  No one seems to remember seeing Froy.  While this idea is potentially eerie, we see many of the characters admitting to one another that they'd seen the woman but wish to avoid trouble and so remain silent, thus voiding any possible tension over Iris's sanity.  This is an unfortunate choice that has been remedied in remakes such as the failed Jodi Foster vehicle "Flight Plan" or Hitchcock's own "Into Thin Air" .  While I recently enjoyed "The 39 Steps" and "Shadow Of A Doubt", this film had little to recommend itself.  Other features include silly plotting,  an abundance of medium range head-and-shoulders shots and a hackneyed ending.  I did enjoy the model towns and watching the scenery pass by through the train windows.


shahn said...

I'm sad you didn't enjoy this film. I'm a fan of early- to mid-period Hitchcock and this is one of my favorites. It's the one that most embraces humor and romance, putting them in equal balance with the suspense. Sure the viewer knows that the other passengers are lying - now how are the two, isolated without help from the outside world, going to solve the mystery?

Lady is an interesting step in Hitch's development of the suspense film. I'm glad he took the route he did, but I'm also really glad he made this first.

Corey Taché said...

I was disappointed that I didn't like it too. I was excited after having just seen the other two I mentioned. Discovering Hitchcock's earlier work at such a late date was a delight; I'd only seen his work from Spellbound onward.

Hitchcock was a terrificly witty man but his strength was sadistic, cynical humor, not light-hearted romantic comedy. His sardonic comments between scenes on Alfred Hitchcock Presents were hilariously misanthropic. One of my favorite mean-spirited Hitchcock gags is the moment when the bird swoops down and whacks Tippi Hedren on the side of the head, completely derailing her seductive game.

Thanks for your comments, Shahn. I enjoyed your snow series.

Philip said...

This is also my second favorite Hitchcock movie too! The earlier British movies have better music!