The Lady Vanishes

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Lady Vanishes Movie Poster Image
Hitchcock comedy thriller is tame old-school fun.
  • NR
  • 1938
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Overall theme, if any, is that things aren't always what (or who) they seem. Even grandmotherly Mrs. Froy isn't the innocent person she claimed to be. Secondary point that the heroine doesn't have to follow through with the security of marriage if the guy seems boring.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Iris is an old-school heroine, basically decent even though she (a) comically clumsy and useless in a fight, and (b) faints a lot. She abandons a presumably dull, rich fiance for a more interesting (but poor and footloose) guy. Background characters are twits, spies, rogues, and scoundrels, though some have changes of heart. Two of the supporting characters are an adultrous couple -- a married lawyer stringing along his (also married) mistress, with talk of divorce.


Shootings and a gun battle, with some deaths and wounding, but very little blood. A hand-to-hand scuffle, characters stunned with blows to the head. Inference that a murder will take place in an operating room.


Scenes of young ladies in their slips. An insulting accusation that one character was born "out of wedlock." Two half-naked men have to share a bed together.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking, with narcotic poison (supposedly) insinuated into liquor glasses, presumably champagne.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Alfred Hitchcock classic contains several fatal and non-fatal shootings (though barely any blood is shown), plus an inferred strangling and some hand-to-hand fighting, which is more comical than serious. Social drinking (champagne) is fairly frequent, and a plot line revolves around a character possibly getting drugged. There are some don't-try-this-at-home stunts on a moving locomotive.

User Reviews

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  • Kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byTaco Talks Movies February 21, 2021

Tame classic

There is some shooting and very little blood and characters are shot. Since it’s black and white the blood is less noticeable.
Teen, 14 years old Written bymasternicocoolman July 10, 2014

Iffy and not that good either

This movie is very dissapointing for a hitchcock so if I were you I'd just go watch a different one. sexuality is not a big problem. A bit at the begining... Continue reading

What's the story?

In a mythical European country an avalanche temporarily strands an international group of travelers at an inn. Youthful Iris (Margaret Lockwood), from England, is reluctantly engaged to be married and is taking a train trip as one last adventure with girlfriends before her life settles down to unbearably boring routine. At the inn Iris befriends Mrs. Froy (May Whitty), who describes herself as a retired governess leaving the country to go back to London. Just before the train finally leaves, Iris is struck on the head by a falling flower-box (which may have been targeting Mrs. Froy) and boards the train, disoriented, with the old woman. When Iris wakes up she finds Mrs. Froy missing -- and all other passengers and staff deny Mrs. Froy was ever there. Only rakish musician-scholar Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) takes Iris' story seriously and tries to help solve the disappearance.

Is it any good?

Film buffs cherish this intriguing thriller as a peak of Alfred Hitchcock's U.K. film career before Hollywood wooed the British director to be America's "Master of Suspense." But it's got slightly old-fashioned dialogue and pacing (many jokes revolve around fans of the sport of cricket). By modern standards the narrative is a bit of snoozer, at least the first half hour, as Hitchcock calmly introduces ensemble characters in a hotel-bound setting. But then Mrs. Froy disappears, and the real suspense kicks in and never lets up. Those same colorful train passengers who were so silly begin to seem more sinister in their denials and dismissals of the frantic Iris.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the suspense in the film. Does it hold up as well for modern audiences as it did for the viewers in 1938?

  • Iris is a pretty old-fashioned movie heroine; a male bails her out of trouble and does the serious fighting (and most of the thinking). Talk about how screen starlets have changed (or not) over the years.

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love travel

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