The Lady Vanishes (1938) movie review (Better Know Your Hitchcock)

We’re still digging around in the Hitchcock archives and this time, we’ve traveled all the way back to 1938 to watch The Lady Vanishes. (Yes, to be clear – we’re talking about the original 1938 production and not the TV remake that debuted this year – and, after watching the original, I must repeat that old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)

Sometimes old movies come across like… well, old movies. To drop another antiquated idiom, they literally don’t make em like they used to. For example, The Lady Vanishes opens with a crane/helicopter-ish shot (at least that’s how the shot would be done today… or digitally) to establish the location (a hotel near a railroad station), but what we’re looking at is clearly a "miniature," or to drop the movie terminology, a model set. There’s a model car that runs down the street that looks especially bad, but that’s how they did it back then. But other than that (and the rear projection you see out the moving train windows), the movie looks fine – the print we saw (which is available via streaming) was of very high quality. The sound could be better, but it’s not terrible.

The movie starts up a bit slow – the early scenes in the hotel drag a bit (I feel a lot of Hitchock movies start out slow and then ramp up later), but they set up necessary characters, their relationships and plot points. Once they board the train, it’s full steam ahead! (Ha! See what I did there? Oh, you’re closing your browser, huh?) I don’t want to give anything away so you can experience the mystery unfolding for yourself, but I do want to say that if it feels like the movie is dragging, just hang in there!

There are some true Hitchcock-ian shots in this movie – especially that one of the guy hanging out the window of the train that you can see in the trailer. I also like the dry English reactions in this movie – I won’t spoil them for you, but they’re hilarious. That being said, the performances aren’t especially memorable, but they don’t detract from anything.

Check out The Lady Vanishes – it’s free and it’s a quality flick! You can watch it on YouTube (below) or Netflix streaming.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on November 18, 2013, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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