The Lady Vanishes opens in US
When Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes opened in America, it confirmed his reputation as the best British director, although Hitchcock was hoping that the film would lead to him becoming one of Hollywood’s best as well. The thriller about a old woman, Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty), with possible state secrets disappearing on a train in some fictional Eastern European country and the unlikely couple (Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave) was not something he planned to do. Adapted from Ethel Lina White’s 1936 espionage novel The Wheel Spins, the project was originally to be done by Roy William Neill, who’d gained a reputation doing the Sherlock Holmes films. When conflicts made him drop the project, the project was offered to Hitchcock, who warmed to the story because of his interest in another vanishing lady, the true-life case of the woman who disappeared at the Paris Exposition of 1890. As he later explained, “Our vanishing lady disappears because of a different plague coming on the scene—World War II,” Hitchcock later commented. While Germany is never named, it was at the time nearly impossible not to read the film as an allegory about Nazi Germany and the various political stances in England about how to deal with its international aggression. The film proved to be a huge hit in America, being heralded by The New York Critics Circle as the best film of the year.