Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Lady Vanishes (1938)

I wanted to see this movie for a long time, mostly because it's referenced in "When Harry Met Sally." When Sally spots Harry in a bookstore and says she won't say hi because he never remembers her anyways, Carrie Fisher's character tells her that she's probably destined to fall in love with him, it's just like the movie..."you're the most contemptible man..." So I saw it and promptly forgot all about it. This doesn't mean it is not a great movie, though! I just rewatched it, and it definitely deserves four stars.



This movie is great Hitchcock. There are trains, there is intrigue... Iris (Margaret Lockwood) is traveling home to England to be married, and she's not terribly happy about it. While in the hotel by the train station she meets a number of the other passengers who are about to be on her train. There's the couple having the affair and the dopey guys who are obsessed with cricket. And most significantly, there's the charmingly sarcastic musician Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) who threatens to share her room with her -scandal!- when she has him thrown out of his room for playing his music and dancing too loudly. And of course there's the sweet old governess Miss Froy. Iris is mysteriously knocked out by a flower pot before getting on the train, and Miss Froy stays with her and helps her. After spending part of the day with Miss Froy on the train, Iris wakes up to find that not only is Miss Froy gone, but that most of the other passengers deny every having seen her and claim that Iris has been alone the whole time. Gilbert is the only one willing to help her... and the intrigue begins...

The love story between Iris and Gilbert's characters can be summed up with three quotes:

1) When they meet: "You are the most contemptible person I've every met in my life." her
"Confidentially, you're a bit of a stinker, too." him

2) After having spent a number of intense hours together trying to solve the mystery of the missing Miss Froy:
"Do you like me?" him
"Not much." her

3) When things are going the most swimmingly: "You heartless, caddish, swollen-headed beast..." her, of course as she is kissing him

So I love the mystery, and it was probably good that I didn't remember the plot, because that allowed me to enjoy the mystery all over again. The movie also made me think a lot about why I love stories where the characters hate each other before they fall in love. Do we all love these stories? Someone else must, or there wouldn't be so many of them...

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