For Reel

The Lady Vanishes (1938)
January 13, 2015, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
4 Stars
The Lady VanishesAlfred Hitchcock’s penultimate British film continues to be listed alongside his finest achievements in some circles. It has a rough around the edges appeal, a distinct tone of spontaneity that seems unmatched by his masterpieces to come. That’s not to say that his later films aren’t playful (if he was a master of anything, it was reinventing himself), but The Lady Vanishes crudely navigates between genres in a manner that somehow feels cohesive. It’s perhaps his first successful blending of the personal and the political–that is, the lovers’ journey is inextricably linked with the circumstances they find themselves in. Michael Redgrave must believe in Margaret Lockwood not only to move the plot along, but to show her that he loves her. One of the most memorable scenes involves Redgrave playfully putting on a deerstalker cap and holding a pipe in an imitation of Sherlock Holmes. He recounts the recent developments to Lockwood, catching up the audience and confirming the very genre he’s participating in. Although contrived, it feels entirely off-the-cuff and impossibly romantic–a nice summation of what works about the picture as a whole.