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The Lady Vanishes - Criterion Collection [Import USA Zone 1]
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A Hitchcock comedy-thriller in which two people investigate the disappearance of an old lady from a train, only to discover a plot to pretend she was never on the train in the first place... --Ce texte fait référence à une édition épuisée ou non disponible de ce titre.
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This Hitchcock movie is based on the book "The Wheel Spins", by Ethel Lina White. It is fun to read the base story to compare to the movie.
One may complain or praise the presentation media yet the bottom line is that once you start to watch the movie that all becomes secondary to the story and the acting.
I will not go through the whole story as the fun is watching it unfold or maybe not unfold fast enough. I think that is called suspense.
Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) a vacationer is stuck in a hotel waiting for a train that is blocked by an avalanche. There she forms an adversarial friendship with a traveling musician (Michael Redgrave.)
When the train finally gets underway Iris who is hit on the heads by an accident is being looked after by Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty). When Miss Froy goes missing on a moving train, nobody remembers her ever being there. Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas) explains that with a bump on the head you can imagine all kinds of people. Gilbert her new musician friend tries to placate her and he may be her only link to sanity as he helps her in her search for the missing Mrs. Fry.
We to are sure that there is a Mrs. Froy and take part in the search.
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I can think of no higher tribute to Hitchcock than the fact that so many recent hit films are virtual remakes of his classic gems. DISTURBIA is REAR WINDOW recast with modern teens, and the 2005 Jodie Foster thriller, FLIGHTPLAN, was an unofficial remake of THE LADY VANISHES with an airliner standing in for the train--right down to the famous "fingerprint on the window." Why do modern filmmakers keep imitating the Master's films? See for yourself. This new, 2-disc reissue from Criterion has a lot of extras and a newly remastered print of the film itself. It's a must for fans and newcomers alike. Highly Recommended.
Let me add that the four-star rating is for the DVD as a whole. None of the films are presented at four-star quality (The Lady Vanishes is maybe three-and-a-half), but the fact that you get three movies instead of one or two bumps the score from average to slightly-above.
The Man Who Knew Too Much is the oldest of the three movies and its print and sound quality are the most deteriorated. Nevertheless, the symphony scene and the final gunfight retain their suspensefulness. The movie holds its own against the 1956 remake; Leslie Banks is no Jimmy Stewart, but at least Edna Best doesn't sing.
Secret Agent features a young John Gielgud, only a year or two out of short pants, I'm sure. Peter Lorre steals the show here, however, as an assassin or curious nationality. Of the three, I felt this was the least Hitchcockian in comparison with his later - and greater - work. It works on a psychological level, like his very-early Blackmail, rather than building the suspense of the other two films on this DVD or terror of Psycho or The Birds. The "self-translating" cypher notes are a nice effect; the spinning bowls and train crash are nice attempts at special effects that fall a little short of the mark.
The Lady Vanishes is the most recent of these films, and sports the best sound and picture. It also has some of the most recognizable Hitchcockian touches. The poisoned brandies framed in the extreme foreground, the hero(ine) whose sanity is in doubt, etc. It's also the most comedic throughout (although Lorre and Robert Young play their roles for laughs in Secret Agent, too).
If you want pristine remastered prints of these films, look elsewhere and expect to pay significantly more than a few dollars per movie. If you can "make do" with versions that look 65-70 years old, and want to experience Hitchcock early in his career, give this DVD a spin. If it turns out not to be to your liking, at least you haven't paid a lot to find that out. Odds are you'll find you get a lot for the price (a brief biography of Hitchcock appears on the disc, trivia factoids appear on the packaging), and won't experience buyer's remorse or feel ripped off by your purchase.