Friday, July 5, 2013

Hitchcock Week: The Lady Vanishes

Howdy all and welcome to the end of Hitchcock Week.   A film that is clever, witty, confusing and conflicting is clearly in order here.  So head out to the lobby, get a soft drink and a heaping bowl of popcorn. This is The Lady Vanishes.

Average waiting line at Olive Garden.

If only we hadn’t missed that spoiler at Budapest.

A young English tourist named Iris (Margaret Lockwood of Honours Easy, Midshipman Easy, Irish for Luck, Doctor Syn, Three on a Weekend, Rulers of the Sea and Night Train to Munich) arrives back at the Gasthof Petrus Inn with her two friends after a long hike and soon to head back to England to marry an aristocrat she does not even love.  A local avalanche has blocked the railroad line so Iris, her friends and several other people are stranded in this village in Europe.   Two of the tourists are typical Englishmen Charters (Basil Radford of The Girl Was Young, Captain’s Orders, Convict 99, Night Train to Munich and Whiskey Galore) and Caldicott (Naunton Wayne of For Love of You, Night Train to Munich, Millions Like Us, Dead of Night, A Girl in a Million, Helter Skelter, The Hidden Room and Trio) and by typical I mean they gripe about the food, the weather, the service and in general life itself.   Iris complains to the innkeeper about the music and dancing above her room.  With a fistful of cash later the innkeeper is officially bribed to remove the noisy hooligans.  

A spoonful of sugar? It helps in the most delightful way, dearie.

Later that evening the music producer Gilbert(Michael Redgrave of Climbing High, The Stars Look Down, Lady in Distress, Jeannie, Thunder Rock and the Importance of Being Earnest) drops by to Iris and complains how if she learned to appreciate the folksy music she won’t be such a stick in the mud.  Reluctantly Iris asks for the innkeeper to give back Gilbert his room and she learns to take in the jaunty tunes as she slumbers. As she closes the window to her room a singer downstairs has been…dealt with BUM BUM BUM DA DA BUMMMMM!!!!  

The next day Iris is accidently clocked with a planter pot and a nice mature woman Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty of The Little Minister, Night Must Fall, The Thirteenth Chair, Conquest, Parnell, Mary Rose, The Royal Family and Rake’s Progress) helps Iris to the train and keeps her company for fear that Iris is suffering from a concussion. Also on the train is Gilbert, Caldicott, Charters, a young lawyer name of Mr. todhunter and his “wife” Mrs. Todhunter.  Iris wakes after fainting prior and Miss Froy invites her to tea in the dining car.  Unable to hear above the train’s noise; Miss Froy writes her name on the window with her finger.  After tea, Iris needs more sleep.

Shortly after awakening, Miss Froy has up and disappeared.  Searching desperately for the lady, Iris finds that no one on board claims to have seen this woman and that she may be delusional.  Gilbert is the only one that believes her and the two attempt find our interpret lady.   People seem shifty, shady and all sort of curious on this train and nothing truly is what it seems.
One can hardly resist a girl in a fetching lobster bib.

A few notes on the story and technical specs if you will.   The train shots are done with a series of proper lighting and side projection, meaning a screen is running footage while being recorded for the movie itself. A few objects are waved in front of the lights to give the effect of motion and the cabins via train are on a soundstage being rocked from side to side by a few strong lads to show a variance in the track and motion once again.

This film has suspenseful moments, comic relief and quite possibly some adventure to be had.  A must for any Hitchcock fans.