The Lady Vanishes (1938) Movie Poster

Trivia for The Lady Vanishes (1938)

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  • François Truffaut claimed this movie was his favorite of Sir Alfred Hitchcock's movies and the best representation of Hitchcock's work.
  • DIRECTOR CAMEO (Sir Alfred Hitchcock): Near the end of the movie at Victoria Station wearing a black coat and smoking a cigarette.
  • The set on which the movie was shot was only ninety feet (27.4 meters) long.
  • Theatrical movie debut of Catherine Lacey (The Nun).
  • Although he uses the fictitious Bandrikan language when speaking to his staff, at the end of the phone conversation in which he conveys Iris' room service order for "champagne", Boris, the harassed hotel manager, exclaims, "Oy vey is mir", a Yiddish expression meaning "woe is me."
  • In the original cut, as seen in the 25th Anniversary national re-release of 1963, Charters and Caldicott have to share the same pair of pajamas in the hotel after Charters has accidentally dropped his in the water jug. In later years and showings, this innocent preamble has been snipped out, and there is a cut straight to them in bed together. Though we can still see Charters' pajamas hanging up to dry, the explanation has disappeared.
  • Gilbert says he once drove "a miniature engine on the Dymchurch line". The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway is a real-life miniature (1/3 normal size) railway in southeast England, which in 2003 still uses steam locomotives, and carries passengers over thirteen miles (twenty-one kilometers) of route.
  • Orson Welles reportedly saw this movie eleven times.
  • The fictitious country where most of the story takes place is named in the movie. In her first scene, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) says, "Bandrika is one of Europe's few undiscovered corners." The first two stations in the movie are identified by briefly visible signs, and the third in dialogue. They are Zolnay, Dravka, and Morsken.
  • Charters and Caldicott (played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne) proved to be such popular characters that they were teamed up in other movies. They reappeared in Night Train to Munich (1940) (also starring Margaret Lockwood) and Millions Like Us (1943), two movies also written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder. They also starred in the BBC Radio serials "Crook's Tour (1940)" (which was also made into a movie), and "Secret Mission 609." They were played in the 1979 remake by Arthur Lowe and Ian Carmichael. In 1985, they reappeared in the BBC Television mystery mini-series, Charters & Caldicott (1985), played by Robin Bailey and Michael Aldridge.
  • The cricket match that is being talked about in the movie by Charters (Basil Radford) is the description of the actual third Ashes test between England and Australia at Manchester in 1938. The result of the test match quite rightly was shown in the end through a newspaper headline, "Match abandoned due to rain".
  • Theatrical movie debut of Sir Michael Redgrave (Gilbert).
  • Vivien Leigh screentested for the role of Iris Henderson.
  • In an interview with Peter Bogdanovich, Sir Alfred Hitchcock revealed that this movie was inspired by a legend of an Englishwoman who went with her daughter to the Palace Hotel in Paris in the 1880s, at the time of the Great Exposition: "The woman was taken sick and they sent the girl across Paris to get some medicine in a horse-vehicle, so it took about four hours. When she came back she asked, 'How's my mother?' 'What mother?' 'My mother. She's here, she's in her room. Room 22.' They go up there. Different room, different wallpaper, everything. And the payoff of the whole story is, so the legend goes, that the woman had bubonic plague and they dared not let anybody know she died, otherwise all of Paris would have emptied." The urban legend, known as the Vanishing Hotel Room, also formed the basis of one segment of the German portmanteau movie Eerie Tales (1919), So Long at the Fair (1950) (in which the missing person was the young woman's brother as opposed to her mother) and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) season one, episode five, "Into Thin Air", starring Hitchcock's daughter Patricia Hitchcock.
  • In order to get a realistic effect, Sir Alfred Hitchcock insisted that there should be no background music except at the beginning and the end. Between those two points, the only music heard is the music sung by the musician outside the hotel, the music tune of Miss Froy, the "Colonel Bogey March" music hummed by Gilbert (Sir Michael Redgrave), the dance music conducted by Gilbert in his hotel room, and the dance music when Iris (Margaret Lockwood) meets Gilbert in the train.
  • The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS or DVD copy of the movie. Therefore, many of the versions of this movie available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duplicated from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the movie. As of November 2018, this movie is available on a Criterion Collection Blu-ray.
  • The tune that Gilbert (Sir Michael Redgrave) is humming is the early twentieth century standard "Colonel Bogey March", later made even more famous in the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957).
  • While in the baggage car, Gilbert (Sir Michael Redgrave) and Iris (Margaret Lockwood) playfully acting along as Sherlock Holmes and Watson, Gilbert offers a Trichinopoly cigar (although the prop itself is a fountain pen) to Iris as a sort of prize in an earlier observation. A Trichinopoly cigar was an important clue in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet", the first Sherlock Holmes story.
  • Leslie Gilliat shot screentests, including that of Sir Michael Redgrave (with and without moustache), and later remembered that when testing one actress for the role of Miss Froy, Sir Alfred Hitchcock instructed him not to put any film in the camera, since he had already secretly and successfully negotiated for Dame May Whitty to play the part.
  • The International Herald Tribune that Charters and Caldicott read to look for the cricket score has a headline on the back page referring to Temple's 60-36 victory in the championship game of the first basketball National Invitational Tournament, played on March 16, 1938.
  • Nova Pilbeam was considered for the role of Iris Henderson.
  • Included amongst the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
  • The earliest documented telecast of this movie occurred Monday, December 18, 1944 on New York City's WNBT (Channel 1). In Los Angeles, post-World War II television viewers got their first look at it on Saturday, July 2, 1949 on KTSL (Channel 5).
  • The brief shot of a ferry bringing Iris and Gilbert back to England from across the English Channel from mainland Europe also appears as an Irish Sea ferry in Will Hay's Oh, Mr. Porter! (1937).
  • Lilli Palmer was considered for the role of Iris Henderson.
  • Filming was briefly interrupted by a strike of electricians.
  • The plot has clear references to the political situation leading up to World War II. The British characters, originally trying their hardest to keep out of the conflict, end up working together to fight off the jack-booted foreigners, while the lawyer who wishes to negotiate with the attackers by waving a white flag gets his just desserts.
  • The cricket-obsessed characters Charters and Caldicott were created especially for this movie and do not appear in the novel written by Ethel Lina White.
  • Sir Michael Redgrave was a stage actor and was reluctant to do this movie, but was convinced by Sir John Gielgud to do so.
  • Sir Michael Redgrave went to Cambridge, just like his character, Gilbert. He was also a chorister and took singing lessons early on in his career, which gives more credibility to Gilbert's statement that he has "a powerful voice".
  • This movie was shot almost entirely at Islington Studios in London. The scenery the train passes is all rear projection.
  • It was remade as The Lady Vanishes (1979), and starred Elliott Gould, Cybill Shepherd, and Dame Angela Lansbury.
  • Many of this movie's themes occur in the thriller Flightplan (2005) with Jodie Foster, such as someone vanishing from a moving vehicle, a dizzy woman as only witness, writing on the window as proof, et cetera.
  • Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford (who portrayed Caldicott and Charters) made eleven movies together in total. This was their first.
  • Margaret Lockwood and Sir Michael Redgrave appeared in The Stars Look Down (1940).
  • Not only acts Madame Kummer as the substitute for Miss Froy, their names are also opposites. Froy rhyming with "joy" as she herself notes and Kummer being the German word for "sadness".
  • This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #3.
  • According to Assistant Director Roy Ward Baker, Sir Alfred Hitchcock was thoroughly organized with regard to every aspect of filming. In addition, Hitchcock was seen to treat his production staff with respect.
  • The British Board of Film Censors, to avoid political controversy, would not allow the foreign villains to be specifically identified in the script as Germans.


  • A musician is mysteriously strangled by disembodied hands after serenading Miss Froy under her hotel window. This is not one of the movie's loose ends as previously reported. Froy uses a musical code, and the singer can be assumed to be passing information to Froy. Note that Froy is carefully listening to the notes, not just enjoying the serenade. The singer is an informant, or another spy.
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