God bless the English! They may be insular, bringing their prejudices with them when traveling in foreign lands. They may be rigid when it comes to the venerable ritual of tea. They may be batty, like the dear old governess Miss Froy, last seen in the train compartment she shares with the heroine (before she vanishes), applying herself diligently to “a most intriguing acrostic in The Needlewoman.”
But, by George, you can count on them in a pinch! Balkan villains are no match for the sharp-witted young couple played by Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. As for slippery Italian escape artists and haughty Middle-European aristocrats, not to worry. When times get tough, even the cricket-obsessed pair, Charters and Caldicott, prove themselves handy with a pistol.
“The Lady Vanishes” is a film to watch when you’re snowed in, or recovering from the flu. Settle down with a nice cup of tea and enjoy the leisurely pace of Hitchcock’s picture —the very last he would make in England. It’s almost as if he knew that the world he was depicting on the very eve of World War II would vanish, like dear Miss Froy. This would be his last chance to celebrate it, and perhaps also to prod his countrymen out of their complacency.
England and all she stood for was threatened. Danger lurked behind the most innocuous facades; nothing was as innocent as it seemed. She would soon demand sacrifices of her citizens, but like Charters and Caldicott, they would rise to the challenge.