Other than those last fifteen minutes of Vertigo that I seem to catch every time it's on, I have a huge Bildungsluecke when it comes to Hitchcock. In an attempt to remedy this, I borrowed The Lady Vanishes from the library this past week. We finally got around to watching it last night. A perfect blend of comedy, intrigue, mystery, and romance, the plot centers around the disappearance of a sweet, older woman from a train. The hitch? Except for one young woman, who may just be a little nutty from having suffered a blow to the head shortly before making friends with the elderly governess, Miss Froy, everyone on the train denies that she ever existed. Convinced that she is not just losing her mind, the young woman sets about solving the mystery of what happened to her new friend.
The film does not disappoint. Margaret Lockwood's Iris Henderson was lovely, smart and determined and what great clothes she had! Just as an aside (if clothes don't interest you, now would be a good time to go get a drink or something), can I tell you how much I love me some 30's couture? I absolutely covet her peignoir set in the scene where she meets the future object of her affections, Gilbert, played by a delightfully obnoxious Michael Redgrave. The two have such a great chemistry together that it's difficult to believe that this was their first time working together. In fact, it was (as I learned from the DVD insert - which has great commentary by Michael Wilmington) Redgrave's first movie.
But it's not ony Lockwood and Redgrave who are great in the movie. The deftly woven plot features a great cast of characters, all with their own agendas for making sure the train is not stopped due to any shenanigans - real of imagined. Caldicott and Charters (a duo that Wilginton refers to as a "sublime pair of aging British public school boys") are in a hurry to get to a sporting match. Mr. Todhunter (so aptly named, considering that Tod is German for death!) is on a trip with his mistress and does not want the publicity and ensuing scandal that would inevitably arise from a disappearance if the train were stopped. Dr. Hartz has his mysterious patient to transport for surgery and something is not quite right about the high heeled nun who guards her. Signor Doppo the magician (who reminds me so much of John Lovitz that I can barely stand it!) is suspicious and squirrelly from his first moment on camera as is Mary Clare's cold Baroness. All together they make for one engaging movie.
And so my first steps into the non-vertiginous world of Hitchock were good enough that it would just be wrong not to take my foray a little deeper. Any suggestions for what to watch next?