Who is the movie character that sets your heart aflutter? Font and Frock and Silver Scenes are hosting, for the second year, the Reel Infatuation Blogathon running from June 23 to June 25. Day 1 recap Day 2 recap Day 3 recap
The delightful comic-thriller The Lady Vanishes was adapted by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder from Ethel Lina White's novel The Wheel Spins. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, the film was a huge international hit that has retained its popularity through the years.
Jam manufacturing heiress Iris Henderson played by Margaret Lockwood is winding down her European tour prior to settling down to married life. The wedding is not a love match, but merely the next expected life step.
A snowy stopover at a wayside inn places Iris smack dab in the middle of an adventure. She unknowingly becomes the confederate of a British spy in the guise of a sweet little old lady, Miss Froy played by Dame May Whitty. In short order Iris is concussed by an errant attempt on the life of Miss Froy, Miss Froy is kidnapped, and Iris' attempts to get her fellow train passengers to become involved in the search are for naught. Iris is persecuted, patronized and attacked. However, it is all worth it because Iris gets a willing partner in her plight in the form of Gilbert played by Michael Redgrave. Two heads are better than one when dealing with espionage on a train.
In his first film role, 6'3" Redgrave cuts a figure full of dash and wry humour. Given the circumstances he is a knight in figurative shining armour. Given Gilbert's character as we come to know him, he is a most unlikely rescuer.
I never thought to count the number of times I watch a favourite movie, but somewhere I imagine around the 17th time or so, I realized watching The Lady Vanishes that I was in love with Gilbert. I loved his looks. I loved his easy and self-deprecating sense of humour. I loved his quick thinking. I loved his interest in music and history. I loved his protectiveness of Iris.
Gilbert first comes into Iris' life as an annoyance. Researching his book on folk music, Gilbert encourages lively dancing over the heads of hotel patrons. This disturbs Iris' rest as well as Miss Froy's covert receipt of critical spy stuff.
Iris and Miss Froy are of a like mind concerning the "gentleman" upstairs.
Miss Froy: "Some people have no consideration, which makes life more difficult."
Iris' first look at Gilbert.
Caftan Woman: "Sigh."
Iris uses her influence and money to get Gilbert kicked out of his room. Much to our heroine's distress, Gilbert pays Iris a visit demonstrating every intention of moving in bag and baggage. He is quite nonchalant in attitude, but obviously determined. Iris relents and calls the manager, reinstating Gilbert to his quarters.
Iris: "You're the most contemptible person I've ever met in my life!"
Gilbert: "Confidentially, I think you're a bit of a stinker too."
The next day on the train we get Gilbert's idea of sweet talk.
Gilbert: "What's the trouble?"
Iris: "If you must know something fell on my head."
Gilbert: "When, infancy?"
The look on Gilbert's face when he discovers Iris is engaged.
Gilbert and Iris join forces against the enemy. Nothing bonds a couple like bashing a magician in the employ of foreign agents who kidnap sweet little old ladies.
More of Gilbert's sweet talk.
Gilbert: "Do you know why you fascinate me? I'll tell you. You've got two great qualities I always admired in father. You haven't any manners at all and you're always seeing things."
Gilbert, the hero!
He's memorized the coded tune, helped Miss Froy to escape, and is now barreling down the track to safety. Gilbert is an amazing mix of qualities: good looks, a quick wit and foolhardy bravery.
The look on Gilbert's face when Iris jumps into a cab to hide from her fiance.
Like jam manufacturing heiress Iris Henderson, I found Gilbert irresistible. Personally, I fell sooner than our leading lady, but we must cut her some slack due to the concussion.