Friday, June 23, 2017

REEL INFATUATION BLOGATHON: The dashing Gilbert of The Lady Vanishes (1938)


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?"



Oh, my!
The look on Gilbert's face when he discovers Iris is engaged.



Adventure!

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. 



Oh, my!
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.










28 comments:

  1. I love, LOVE this review of The Lady Vanishes. I think you're just as witty as Gilbert – who has a vague resemblance to Alec Baldwin in some of these images, I thought.

    This is marvelous: "...somewhere I imagine around the 17th time or so, I realized watching The Lady Vanishes that I was in love with Gilbert." And what's not to love! You've nearly convinced me to postphone my blogathon plans today in favour of swooning over Michael Redgrave.

    Thanks so much for joining the blogathon. It's never a party until you arrive. ;)

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    1. Oh, thank you so much! I had such fun re-watching The Lady Vanishes and writing this piece. I was hoping the fun would reach out to readers.

      So, Gilbert and I have led you astray, eh? Take a little time. We won't tell.

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  2. I'm ashamed to admit this is one Hitchcock film I haven't seen yet. But it is on my list and moving up thanks to your review.

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    1. I'm very happy to think I've inched ahead on the list. Prediction: a new favourite.

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    2. Oh make sure to watch it asap! It's delightful! :)

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  3. "Jam manufacturing heiress"? This must be a comedy. I'll add it to the list.

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    1. Indeed. Iris is marrying a blueblood because father wants a coat of arms for the jam label. The humour in the movie is what makes it click, and what makes it classic.

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  4. If it was even possible to resist Gilbert after watching the film, I don't know who could after reading your post. :) A real pleasure to read!

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    1. Thank you. What a charming thing to say. I'll be smiling about it all night.

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  5. I fell instantly too, Pat. :) We are obviously Gilbert fan-girls from way back. I am also a Richard Hannay (the remarkable Robert Donat) fan-girl from Hitchcock's other wonderful early film THE 39 STEPS. Wish I could have joined this blogathon but I've only just now seen your post. Next time let me know when good stuff is coming up!!

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    1. I certainly will give you the heads-up next time. I would have taken you for a Gilbert fan-girl. You have great taste.

      Richard Hannay? He's like catnip to the ladies. The spy. The farmer's wife. The blonde. You. Me.

      PS: Check out the post in the Day 1 recap on Archie Goodwin!

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    2. 'Catnip to the ladies.' For sure! I've always thought that short interlude of the farmer's wife so heartbreaking. That's the woman he should have wound up with somehow. :) I know, I know, Hitchcock is not a romantic. P.S. Don't you low that dashing coat (collar turned up of course) he wears in the beginning - no wonder the spy turns to him for help. :)

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    3. I meant 'love' of course. GAK!

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  6. Sounds like a smashing film, even if you are looking at it with goo-goo eyes. Thanks for such a great write-up

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    1. I am not! Goo-goo eyes? Well, okay ... maybe just a little.

      It really is a terrific movie with quirky characters, an off-kilter romance and adventure. Highly recommended.

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  7. I must admit that The Lady Vanishes isn't one of my favorites, but Gilbert is definitely what I enjoy the most about it. He's such a delightful character, almost as delightful as your post.

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    1. Thank you very much. It's a compliment I truly appreciate.

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  8. I always enjoy Michael Redgrave and he was his most charming in THE LADY VANISHES!

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    1. Almost too much charm. It's a good think I've watched the movie a zillion times because sometimes I just stare at Redgrave and forget what's going on.

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    2. Ha! You are so like me, Pat. :) We must have been sisters in some other alternate life reality.

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    3. Yvette, if nothing else is true in the universe I believe that you are right.

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  9. His smirk in the last photo - sigh!
    Michael Redgrave was gorgeous and very talented. But, until now, I hadn't realized he was THAT tall. I'd look like a midget near him.
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. I know, I love that smirk. He's so happy! Indeed, we could call him Michael "Stretch" Redgrave.

      You're certainly welcome. I liked your article.

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  10. And what a first role it was! I'm SO GLAD you picked Gilbert, because I love him too and he is like my favourite character of all Hitchcock's characthers. And as you might know, I'm obsessed with The Lady Vanishes. Ah Gilbert, Gilbert, he certainly is an handsome one and I so love his humour. As much as I love Margaret Lockwood and the rest of the cast, I don't know what this film would have been without Michael Redgrave. I really smile when I was reading your most entertaining article. I love it when you comment on Gilbert's facial expression! A lot of fun! :)

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    1. I'm glad you had fun. Fun is what The Lady Vanishes is all about for me, and you are so right, it just wouldn't be anything at all without Gilbert. I say that with all due respect and affection to Charters and Caldicott.

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  11. Many people Love Hitchcockian leading ladies but his men are fabulous too!!!! I need to re watch this movie!!! its great and one of his under rated works- and the Dashing Gilbert helps a lot- so easy to look at and delightful to watch!

    see you in the Hitchcock 50 class!

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    1. I'll be looking for you in class! I shouldn't be surprised if we don't meet up with some other fans of Gilbert.

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