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Western Morning News (17/Jan/1939) - British Films' Triumph



British Films' Triumph

"The Lady Vanishes"

Fine Spy Drama

One of the penalties of being enthusiastic about a film is that one has to use superlatives to describe it.

To describe soberly a picture such as "Pygmalion" or "The Lady Vanishes" as a good picture is to court misinterpretation. It carries with it a suspicion that the writer, while anxious to support home industry at all costs, yet wants to keep a portion of his soul for the angels should the industry let him down.

Let us rather say straight out then that "Pygmalion" and "The Lady Vanishes" are two extremely good pictures. Whether one is better than the other it is idle to discuss, for both have plots as different as chalk from cheese. The point is that here are two British films which can show a clean pair of heels to the majority of their American competitors.

Great Melodrama

Mr. Alfred Hitchcock looms large over "The Lady Vanishes." There are long moments of acute and adroitly calculated suspense, there is the familiar habit of sweeping round to a locale through a number of adjoining scenes, while the plot is riveted to the story by strikingly imaginative sequences.

This is one of Mr. Hitchcock's melodramas, but what a thing of art the melodrama becomes when directed as this is! The threads of its espionage drama creep on you unaware, until Dame May Whitty so mysteriously disappears from her carriage, and then it moves with firm and even strides to its finale.

Rare vitality is given this picture by the acting. Mr Michael Redgrave makes a promising debut. Dame May Whitty is excellent as the old lady, but the great joy of the piece is the new comedy pair, Mr. Naunton Wayne and Mr. Basil Radford. Their comedy is so English in its monosyllabic humour, and in its frigid embarrassed utterance, that one could never listen to it with a straight face. To make them anxious to get home in time for the Test match was a master-stroke.