The Lady Vanishes (1938)

A mysterious disappearance on a continental train journey is the backdrop to the perfectly executed comic thriller that paved Hitchcock’s way to Hollywood.
“Hitchcock takes us on his ride with the teasing assurance that he can play us – for suckers first, and then smarties.” David Thomson, Have You Seen…? 2008 During a train journey through a fictional European country, young Brits Iris (Margaret Lockwood) and Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) are searching for a fellow passenger whose very existence everyone else denies. This is the simple set-up around which Alfred Hitchcock’s twenty-third feature is constructed – and it’s a gem. By this time Britain’s most accomplished popular director, Hitchcock marshalled his facilities for suspense, comedy and romance in perfect harmony. The plot maintains a terrific tension, balanced with deliciously grotesque supporting characterisation and the cheerful charms of his central couple – not to mention superb effects. The film also functions admirably as a satire of British insularity at a time of rising international tension. Its success spurred Hitchcock’s departure for Hollywood and even greater triumphs. A 1979 remake starred Cybill Shepherd and Elliot Gould. The missing-person-who-may-not-exist plot has been reworked for many thrillers, including So Long at the Fair (1950) and The Usual Suspects (1995).
1938 United Kingdom
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by
Edward Black
Written by
Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder, Alma Reville
Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas
Running time
96 minutes