Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#3: The Lady Vanishes

(Alfred Hitchcock, 1938)

After reappraisal, this is my favorite British Hitchcock film. While The 39 Steps has a great clip to it, the combination of laughs, excitement, and real political intrigue at play here is undeniable. I believe I had always had trouble with the opening sequence at the inn during previous viewings. It felt too long, drawing out the movie's moments before the lady vanishes, as they say. But this time, those character steps made so much more sense to me (and class once again defines a British movie).

A large number of people far more knowledgeable about film (including Truffaut and Hitchcock scholar Robin Wood, who said it is the reason he became a film critic) have said it's so perfect that it is difficult to write about or analyze. I'll have to defer to them and leave it at this: If Hitchcock had never come to Hollywood and stopped making movies after the beginning of World War II, he would not be as famous (and my favorite movie ever, Vertigo, would have never been made). But he might be held in even higher esteem within film circles on the strength of The Man Who Knew Too Much, 39 Steps, and most importantly, The Lady Vanishes.

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