The Lady Vanishes (Criterion, 2007)

I’ve added full details and images to the site for the new Criterion DVD of The Lady Vanishes.

It’s pretty much a given that any Criterion Hitchcock DVD is well worth buying (especially as the out-of-print titles become very collectable).

As with the last wave of Criterion Hitchcock DVDs (Spellbound, Notorious, and Rebecca), Criterion have come up trumps with both the transfer and the extras.

The transfer is an improvement on the original DVD release from 1998, although (to my eye) it’s on a par with the transfer used in the German “Early Years” box set from 2003 (this has more visible film grain). Anyway, Criterion have gone for the highest bitrate encoding possible for their new transfer:

More importantly, the 6 seconds of missing footage (which is missing from nearly all of the US DVD releases of the film) has been restored.

Bruce Eder’s excellent commentary track has been carried across, although sadly there isn’t a subtitled version. The rest of the extras are contained on a second DVD…

Crook’s Tour” (81 minute film from 1941) sees Wayne and Radford reprising the characters of Charters and Caldicott — roles which they also play in “Night Train to Munich” and “Millions Like Us“. Anyone who has seen the full version of “Dead of Night” will know that their characters (Parratt and Potter) are pretty much Charters and Caldicott, with the exception that they are mad about golf (instead of cricket).

Historian Leonard Leff provides an interesting 33 minute video essay (“Mystery Train”) although, again, sadly there are no subtitles. Nor are there any subtitles for the brief 10 minute extract from the Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews.

The final extra is a short sequence of “behind the scenes photos and promotional art”. Surprisingly (at least for a Criterion DVD), this only contains 22 images. Given the amount of material available (especially production stills), I would have expected more of a treasure-trove.

Anyway, those are just minor niggles — this 2 DVD set is a worthy addition to any Hitchcock collection and is a “must buy” for anyone who either doesn’t have a copy of the film already, or only owns a “public domain” DVD.

(Catherine Lacey as the nun in high heels)

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