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Lady Vanishes, The

A Hitchcock thriller which has become one of the few timeless classics from the British cinema of the 1930s, with its famous plot-line of the little old lady who vanishes aboard the Transcontinental Express. Critical orthodoxy has it that Hitchcok’s move to Hollywood in 1940s was some kind of breakthrough in his career; that his American movies are his ‘mature’ work, making the earlier English ones look trivial and provincial. It’s true that the qualities of his work changed in America, but a look at an early movie like this knocks the rest of the orthodox view sideways. One of his last pictures for the British studio system, Hitchcock’s film still impresses with its sharp and funny dialogue as well as its classic staging. Alongside a superb cast that includes Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave and Dame May Whitty, one remembers especially Catherine Lacey as the ‘nun’ who proves to be wearing high heels. A testament to what Hitchcock could accomplish on a limited budget but with an outstanding screenplay and great actors, The Lady Vanishes is a landmark romantic comedy-thriller.
U.K., 1938. Black and white, 97 min.

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