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BFI Monthly Film Bulletin (Aug/1938) - The Lady Vanishes

(c) BFI Monthly Film Bulletin (Aug/1938 - Volume 5, Number 56)

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Comedy-mystery-drama. Based upon a novel, the film centres on the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of an elderly English lady from a trans-continental train. Her fellow traveller, a young girl, aided by a young man on the train, attempts to solve the mystery. They find themselves entangled in a web of espionage and counter-espionage and their adventures culminate in the siege of the railway coach by foreign agents after it has been detached from the train and sidetracked into a forest.

Alfred Hitchcock has directed The Lady Vanishes with all his individual expertness of touch and this is an out of the ordinary and exciting thriller. The action takes place almost entirely on board the train and a well-balanced cast maintain pace and interest. Michael Redgrave, supported by Margaret Lockwood, possesses a lightness of touch and is altogether admirable in the part of Gilbert. Co-starred with them, Paul Lukas and Dame May Whitty give faultless performances. With polished restraint the former conveys the quiet menace of the head foreign agent, while Dame May Whitty's quiet perfection makes us sorry that her -appearances are necessarily infrequent. The supporting players do fine work. Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, by their unexaggerated but subtly penetrating study of the two British travellers, give comedy to the film. The contributions of the rest of the cast are thoroughly sound.