Sunday Matinee: The Lady Vanishes

Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is a British tourist about to head home from the country of Bandrika. A train delay forces everyone who was going to travel to spend a night at the local inn.

Iris is disturbed by music playing in the room above her getting the young musician Gilbert Redman (Michael Redgrave) kicked out of his room. Gilbert retaliates by forcing Iris to let him stay in her room. Meanwhile elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) is listening to a local musician play a tune outside her window. Unbeknownst to Miss Froy, the musician is killed shortly after playing the tune.

The next day while everyone is about to board the train, Iris is hit in the head with planter intended for Miss Froy. Miss Froy helps the dazed Iris onto the train. Miss Froy takes Iris to the dining car for tea and then back to their seats where Iris falls asleep. When Iris awakes Miss Froy is gone. And nobody on the train remembers ever seeing the elderly woman.

Iris begins to desperately search for Miss Froy. Gilbert starts to help but Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas) believes that Iris is suffering from a hallucination caused by the concussion. After awhile another woman turns up claiming to be Miss Froy. Iris starts to believe that something really sinister is happening on the train.

This was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s last British made films before he left for America and it’s one of his best. The movie is intense with lots of twists and turns. The majority of the film is set on the train and gives a very confined feeling making the disappearance of Miss Froy even more puzzling. There have naturally been remakes including one in the 1970s but this is the best version and made by the master of suspense himself to boot. Excellent movie.

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