The Lady Vanishes (1938)

A mysterious disappearance on a continental train journey is the backdrop to the perfectly executed comic thriller that paved Hitchcock’s way to Hollywood.

Film details

Alternative titles

  • Lost Lady Alternative

Cast & Credits

Introduction

“Hitchcock takes us on his ride with the teasing assurance that he can play us – for suckers first, and then smarties.”
David Thomson, Have You Seen…? 2008

During a train journey through a fictional European country, young Brits Iris (Margaret Lockwood) and Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) are searching for a fellow passenger whose very existence everyone else denies. This is the simple set-up around which Alfred Hitchcock’s twenty-third feature is constructed – and it’s a gem.

By this time Britain’s most accomplished popular director, Hitchcock marshalled his facilities for suspense, comedy and romance in perfect harmony. The plot maintains a terrific tension, balanced with deliciously grotesque supporting characterisation and the cheerful charms of his central couple – not to mention superb effects.

The film also functions admirably as a satire of British insularity at a time of rising international tension. Its success spurred Hitchcock’s departure for Hollywood and even greater triumphs.

A 1979 remake starred Cybill Shepherd and Elliot Gould. The missing-person-who-may-not-exist plot has been reworked for many thrillers, including So Long at the Fair (1950) and The Usual Suspects (1995).

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