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The Lady Vanishes: The Criterion Collection

4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Ethel Lina White, Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat
  • Producers: Edward Black
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Morningstar Entertainment Inc.
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 0780020723
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,975 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

In this best-loved of Hitchcock's British-made thrillers, a young woman on a train meets a charming old lady (Dame May Whitty), who promptly disappears. The other passengers deny ever having seen her, leading the young woman to suspect a conspiracy. When she begins investigating, she is drawn into a complex web of mystery and high adventure.


At first glance The Lady Vanishes appears to be a frothy, lightweight treat, a testament to Alfred Hitchcock's nimble touch. This snappy, sophisticated romantic thriller begins innocently enough, as a contingent of eccentric tourists spend the night in a picture-postcard village inn nestled in the Swiss Alps before setting off on the train the next morning. In a wonderfully Hitchcockian twist on "meeting cute," attractive young Iris (Margaret Lockwood) clashes with brash music student Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) when his nocturnal concerts give her no peace. She gets him kicked out of his room, so he barges in on hers: True love is inevitable, but not before they are both plunged into an international conspiracy. The next day on the train, kindly old Mrs. Froy (Dame May Whitty) vanishes from her train car without a trace and the once quarrelsome couple unite to search the train and uncover a dastardly plot. No one is as he or she seems, but sorting out the villains from the merely mysterious is a challenge in itself, as our innocents abroad face resistance from the entire passenger list. Hitchcock effortlessly navigates this vivid thriller from light comedy to high tension and back again, creating one of his most enchanting and entertaining mysteries. Though this wasn't his final British film before departing for Hollywood (that honor goes to Jamaica Inn), many critics prefer to think of this as his fond farewell to the British Film Industry. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 22 2007
Format: DVD
Alfred Hitchcock wasn't too good at straight-out comedy, which he only did once. But he was absolutely brilliant at clever, witty thrillers, one of the earliest of which is "The Lady Vanishes." While it has some major plot holes, Hitchcock makes up for those with witty dialogue and solid acting.

Iris (Margaret Lockwood) is having a last girl's-night-out with her best friends, at a small Alpine hotel. As she's leaving on the train, she befriends a kindly little old governess (Dame May Whitty) -- who vanishes while Iris is napping. Even worse, everyone denies that the old lady existed, making Iris wonder if she imagined the whole thing.

She enlists the help of eccentric musician Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) to help her find the old lady, once they are both convinced that the lady existed. Now the pair must go through the train in search of the old lady -- but they never expected to uncover an international conspiracy, which could leave them all dead.

"The Lady Vanishes" was a pretty early movie of Hitchcock's, and at the end we're left wondering about several oddities in the plot (how is an eighty-year-old lady so athletic? How inept can those foreign agents BE?). As a spy thriller it's flawed but passable... but it's very good as a comedic mystery.

Hitchcock takes his time introducing us to these characters, by having them all bunk at one overcrowded hotel. One particularly funny scene has Gilbert invading Iris's suite, after she has him ejected from his room, and strewing his things all over as she orders him to leave. But Hitchcock also captures the claustrophobic feeling of being menaced on a train.
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Format: DVD
This film is one of Hitchcock's early great works. Many believe THE LADY VANISHES to be an essential film. If you ask if I think everyone should see it I answer emphatically "Yes!". Whether or not it is essential to own is a bit up for grabs. I have seen it numerous times and it is enjoyable; great script, great scenes, great acting and directing etc. The 'lady' in question is so sweet and unassuming, and the young lady and man who become 'involved' are quite fiesty as well. Yet I have never felt compelled to own THE LADY VANISHES. As far as I'm concerned, it is a great example of early Hitchcock, but not essential.
That said, I am glad that Criterion Collection decided to include this title. The film elements look quite good considering the age of the negatives and how they were probably stored (without much care I'm guessing). The sound is as good as one can hope given the audio technology of the time (1939-World War Two was only just about to start!). Occasionally dialogue is not quite as crisp as I would like, but this is nothing too bothersome. All in all, this is a film that everyone should see at least once-certainly every film student or fan of Hitch.
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Format: DVD
First, if one wants to get this on DVD, it is absolutely essential to get the Criterion edition. There are numerous cheap editions of this film, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Only the Criterion edition is based on a reconstituted copy, the others being reduplications of worn, aged copies.
THE LADY VANISHES was the last film that Alfred Hitchcock made in Great Britain before leaving for a long stay in Hollywood. I consider this one to be the second best of the films he made in England during the thirties, only surpassed by THE 39 STEPS. Of all the films that Hitchcock made, THE LADY VANISHES probably best blends both the suspense and the humor he loved to inject into every film. In fact, this film is funnier than many pure comedies. The scene where Basil Radford hijacks a long distance telephone call, only to shout to the operator, "How's England?!" only to mean thereby, "What has happened in Cricket?" is a classic. This is also yet another of Hitchcock's great train films. No major director used trains as often and as well as Hitchcock, and this is his finest effort in the genre.
The cast for this film is easily the best of any of Hitchcock's 1930s films, and holds up well against any of his American films. Michael Redgrave manages to project both the humor and seriousness that Hitchcock preferred in his leading men, and Margaret Lockwood, although not blonde, makes an excellent leading lady. But it is the supporting cast that makes this film so delectable. Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford appear as "Caldicott" and "Charters," and as a pair of appalling Britishers abroad, they very nearly steal the movie. They were such a hit in this film that they became an instant team, and were paired in many additional films together.
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By Kona TOP 500 REVIEWER on Aug. 14 2009
Format: DVD
Spunky Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) boards a train in Eastern Europe on her way to be married in England. Aboard are a colorful assortment of characters including two cricket-obsessed eccentrics, a suspicious couple having an illicit affair, and a rather scary magician. One bright note is an elderly governess, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) whom Iris befriends. As the trip gets underway, the old lady promptly disappears and no one seems to have seen her except Iris, who did suffer a bop on the head earlier and may have imagined her.

While the basic plot is a lot like Flightplan, this 1938 Alfred Hitchcock suspense story is full of comedic touches. The quirky characters are well-developed and appropriately silly or menacing and I was kept interested and guessing until the end. Lockwood is quite likeable as the spirited heroine and Michael Redgrave is fun as her joking yet sympathetic new friend.

The movie loses a star because model trains and bad indoor-for-outdoor sets are obviously used and in a shootout, two pistols hold at least a hundred bullets. But the overall mood is exciting as well as playful; indeed, this is a good mystery that doesn't take itself too seriously. Recommended.
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