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The Lady Vanishes Movie Review

hitchcock lockwood margaret train

The Lady Vanishes was Alfred Hitchcock's ticket to Hollywood. When I got a Eurailpass in 1975 and took Amtrak cross-country in 1977, I was disappointed that I didn't meet any cool passengers like Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) or Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave) or Charters and Caldicott (Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne) or a high-heeled nun (Catherine Lacey) or Miss Froy (May Whitty). The Lady Vanishes revealed how a variety of personalities react to international conflict. The pacifist played by Cecil Parker is portrayed as a pompous fool, a not-so-subtle indication of the British mood 12 months before the invasion of Poland. As for production values, Hitchcock didn't even try to conceal the fact that he was saving shillings by using a miniature train for exteriors. (A life-long penny pincher, Hitchcock continued to use painted sets and rear-screen projection throughout his long career.) Nor was he unduly concerned by the fact that a frail old lady with a tune in her head was the ONLY one who could save the day. As it turned out, international audiences didn't mind, either. They loved the wit, style, and speed of The Lady Vanishes, and especially the veddy British Charters and Caldicott (Radford and Wayne made 10 films as a team throughout the 1940s). The lovely and talented Margaret Lockwood received an invitation to Hollywood, but, after playing third fiddle to Shirley Temple and Randolph Scott in 1939's Susannah of the Mounties, she made a fast trip back; Lockwood became Great Britain's most popular female star. Americans wanted every British import to be as great as The Lady Vanishes. That wasn't possible, of course, so the Hitchcock family had to come to us. Hitchcock's cameo occurs in a London train station. Kathleen Tremaine plays Miss Froy's impostor. Googie Withers (who isn't on the train) was in 1996's Shine along with Redgrave's daughter, Lynn.

1938 99m/B GB Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Michael Redgrave, May Whitty, Googie Withers, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Cecil Parker, Linden Travers, Catherine Lacey; Cameos: Alfred Hitchcock; D: Alfred Hitchcock; W: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder; C: Jack Cox; M: Louis Levy. New York Film Critics Awards ‘38: Best Director (Hitchcock). VHS, LV, DVD

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