‘The Lady Vanishes’ – To Judge and to Fear

Conspiracy
Thrills
One life.

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Hitchcock tended toward the kind of funny that pokes fun at institutions and systems.

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In “The Lady Vanishes”, the humor and drama are essentially about trusting one’s self in unbelievable situations. To start, the jolly older woman -Ms.Froy- who ends up caught in a conspiracy plot on her way home to England vanishes after announcing, as kind of a false alarm, “you’ll forgive me if I run. Goodbye!” after making a very intelligent yet somewhat anarchical statement to two skeptical strangers. She runs. So, Froy happens to be wise and well-read, which doesn’t save her…in fact, her views might make her a target. She’s simply intelligent, not at all cunning. Naïveté is her constant state, or perhaps we should empathize with her, for she recognizes that she has maintained her youthful spirit to an extraordinary extent, and viewers may connect this to her easy disappearance.

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Regardless of why or how Ms. Froy was captured on a moving train, the characters, Iris and Gilbert (played by Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave) who look for her are a testament to Froy’s legacy- though she gets to see her own end played out! Iris is questioned about whether or not she really sat with Ms Froy, and she’s increasingly indecisive about whether or not she should trust her own memory. At the last moment, she decides to stay steadfast and search for her disappeared companion. The search, guided by the eccentric traveling artist, Gilbert, leads to dark the absurd and dark reasoning of villainous behavior, with an evil doctor who states, for example, that he will perform a procedure gone wrong on the drugged and bandaged Ms. Froy upon their arrival to the next train stop. Fortunately, and perhaps expectably since this is technically a comedy with some dark elements, Froy thrives and Iris and Gilbert snuggle in the warmth of their detective success.

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