The Lady Vanishes – An Entertaining Disappearing Act Mystery

March 12, 2014 27 Comments

The Lady Vanishes (2013) TV Movie Review

The more productions I watch set in the 1930 era, the more I love this era. Ironically, once upon a time, it came in last. I’m not sure if the change came about because “bonnet” costume drama was so dominant and this is a new world to discover or if I like the sass that seems to accompany this era, either way, fans of this age or classy mystery will want to see the latest BBC masterpiece, The Lady Vanishes, which is now finally on DVD in the states.

The Lady Vanishes

Along with her group of friends, wealthy socialite Iris Carr (Tuppence Middleton) is travels by train through foreign countries with scenic stops along the way and days of leisure. Their latest stop is a quint hotel where the group meets a host of fellow guests. This includes the quiet Reverend Barnes and his wife (Pip Torres, Sandy McDade); a mysterious couple (Julian Rhind-Tutt, Keeley Hawes) with secrets; and the prudish, gossip prone sisters Rose and Evelyn Floodporter (Gemma Jones, Stephanie Cole).

After an unpleasant confrontation, Iris decides it’s best to leave her ner-do-well friends. She elects to remain behind while her party travels ahead. On her day alone, she wanders the countryside and realizes how fragile her position is; despite the money, she’s alone with no family. This inspires her to re-join her party a day prior to departure.

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Iris barely manages to make the train in time, which also transports many hotel guests. Frustrated by language barriers, Iris befriends a kindly Englishwoman woman named Miss Froy (Selina Cadell). But after a deep slumber, Iris wakes to find her companion missing. Confused over fellow passengers claim there is no such person, Iris catches the attention of a young university student, Max (Tom Hughes) and his professor (Alex Jennings) who try to help sort out Iris’ hysterical claims. The more she searches to discover the fate of  her friend, the more her existence is erases. Is Iris mistaken or is a mysterious game afoot?

This is actually very good. In fact, it’s over too soon for my pleasure. Initially it introduces us to a heroine who is anything but likable. She’s a selfish, spoiled young woman who doesn’t care who she hurts so long her lifestyle remains intact. Iris takes some time to warm up to though her spunk is infectious, and of course, eventually when the mystery gets rolling, Hitchcock-esque style is fabulous.

Featuring a familiar array of British talent, this is the first time I’d seen Middleton in anything. She not only physically fits the era (her personality and looks suit the time period perfectly), but how she plays the character is a study in brilliance. There’s a dash of romance which serves to lighten the mood of a script that does get a bit dreary on occasion, wondering into just a smidgen of the macabre. Anyone who isn’t fond of an ambiguous end should probably skip over this. Contrary to my preferences, I actually thought the ending darling. It’s entertaining, upbeat and dare I say it, full of promise. That’s good enough for me.

To round out the good, the costumes are stylish and pretty as is the countryside scenes, which bookends the story considering the entire film is confined to a train. There is some odd moments and a question that wavers between sanity and insanity. This means this may not be a film for everyone, however if you like British mystery, you should enjoy this one. It’s gutsy in surprising ways, has a fabulous climax wind-up, and as previously gushed over, the cast is phenomenal. With so many pros to its name, there isn’t more to say about this. Except maybe, where’s the sequel?


(This post does contain affiliate links, which means – at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link. Read the disclosure page for details.) You can own The Lady Vanishes (2013) digitally on Amazon Video or purchase on DVD.

(CONTENT: the film rates a PG. there is an extra-marital affair rumor and perhaps a minor innuendo, a woman accuses a girl of flirting/sleeping with her husband. A woman is taken against her will, while drugged and another is hidden away, tied up.)

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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27 Comments

  • Melissa Tagg March 12, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    OOH I must be seriously locked away in my own world lately because I hadn't even heard of this one. Must watch!

    • Rissi March 13, 2014 at 12:21 AM

      It's really quite good, Melissa – it's a shorter time length (just the length of a 90-some minute film) but is so entertaining, the viewer doesn't care. Hope you like it if/when you see it. :)

  • Sarah March 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    Very nice review, Rissi! I liked this a lot too — mysterious, adorable, and a little scary all at once. :D

    • Rissi March 13, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      YES! You say it exactly as it is, Sarah – "mysterious, adorable and a little scary." That's this movie to a T. :)

  • Ella March 12, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    I saw the trailer to this a month or so ago and I was intrigued. I will have to put it on my to-watch list.

    • Rissi March 13, 2014 at 12:24 AM

      If you like mysteries, it's quite good, Ella. And of course, its greatest advantage is, it's BRITISH! ;)

    • Ella March 13, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      :)

  • Bekah M. March 12, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    A new BBC masterpiece movie I haven't heard of?! Oh my gosh *running to tell my sisters*. I must watch this! Thanks for spreading the word on this one. Sounds great!

    • Rissi March 13, 2014 at 12:26 AM

      Yay! Hope you and your sisters enjoy this, Bekah – both my mom and I really liked it and of course, being a British movie made it all the MORE appealing. :)

  • Kristin March 12, 2014 at 9:03 PM

    I love stories set in the 1930s, too! There's something so special about them. I haven't seen this adaptation, but last year I watched the classic Hitchcock film adaptation. It was really good, so I'll probably try to check this one out, too!

    • Rissi March 13, 2014 at 12:28 AM

      Oh, fun! If you liked another adaptation of this, Kristin, you'd most likely enjoy this one. :)

      …and I agree; there IS something special about 30's era films (especially the "modern" ones), I don't know what, but there's definitely a pull to them. :)

  • Hannah Barta March 13, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    I think I'm going to put this on my "to-watch" list :)

    walking in the air.

    • Rissi March 14, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      Fun. Hope you enjoy this, Hannah! :)

  • Carissa Horton March 14, 2014 at 5:27 AM

    Huh, I may need to give it a try. Although it's not Hitchock-esque, but is based off one of his actual films. I saw it once, many, many years ago, and remember almost nothing about it. One of his lesser-known films, of which there are many.

    I love the 1930s too! Although I've discovered I like movies actually filmed in the 30s best. There's a few exceptions to the rule, like the awesome Jeeves & Wooster series from the 90s, but most of the time it's movies from the 30s set in their own era. There was something so magical about the time that modern film can't quite capture. :)

    • Rissi March 14, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      You probably saw an older version of this, Carissa? I only ask that because this one was made/released within the last two years and so perhaps this newer version would be more to your liking. Or perhaps it's just the story you don't care for. :)

      I tend to prefer the newbie 30's vs. the oldies though now and again I really enjoy a Shirley Temple movie or Deanna Durbin or a musical. Just depends on my mood! ;)

  • Birdie March 15, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    I hadn't heard of this, though I usually pride myself on -at least knowing about- everything period the British make. But I'm not a big mystery fan, so maybe that's why it's slipped my radar.

    • Rissi March 17, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      If you don't like mystery, you may not enjoy this one, then, Birdie. It's got a bit of everything in it – "lighthearted" sleuthing, humor, drama, romance and then it gets a bit of its "dark" mystery on. I thought it was sensational but it's not for everyone. Hope if you ever give it a try, you like it. :)

  • Tressa S March 16, 2014 at 4:32 AM

    Ooooh! I'm going to have to either rent this or purchase a copy. I love Poirot and Hitchcock and this era as well. I'm not sure if I'll love the ending as much as you, but maybe I will. :)

    • Rissi March 17, 2014 at 5:23 PM

      Usually I would detest this type of ending, Tressa… but I don't know, it sat just great with me this time around. Maybe because of its playful (read "promising") scenario or maybe I was just in the right mood. Either way, the movie is still quite smashing – the historical detail is such fun. :)

  • Natalie March 16, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    I saw this on PBS last year, and loved this new take on the classic Hitchcock =)

    • Rissi March 17, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Ditto. I haven't seen the oldie, but really loved this one, Natalie! :)

      Super glad you stopped by – I was just realizing I needed to catch up on your blog.

  • Jordan Pond April 17, 2014 at 7:23 PM

    Rissi, I enjoyed your review! My husband and I saw this a few months ago on PBS, but we didn't know anyone else who had seen it. It was so great to read your take on it. I agree with you: we liked the fact that the heroine was far from perfect. Interesting film!

    • Rissi April 17, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      Hi, Jordan! Thanks for reading.

      Yay! Glad to meet another fan of this one – it really was a fun film and as you say, refreshing to meet a heroine who wasn't perfect. I wound up really liking her by the time all was said and done, and despite the ending (which usually I would detest), this is one of my favorite mystery flicks.

  • Jordan April 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Yes, I really liked her by the end, too! Her compassion towards a stranger and her persistence in assuring the woman's well-being go a long way in my book.

    • Rissi April 22, 2014 at 2:58 AM

      Absolutely! In any kind of story, it's pretty important to like the leads. :)

  • […] FILM REVIEW | The Lady Vanishes (2013) […]

  • […] the supporting cast is the number of British talent that crop up. Everyone from Tuppance Middleton (The Lady Vanishes) to Douglas Booth (Great Expectations) appear and of course, we see Maria Doyle Kennedy again who […]

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