The Lady Vanishes

  • Review Date: October 26, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1938
  • Running Time: 97 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Hitchcock comedy thriller is tame old-school fun.
  • Review Date: October 26, 2010
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1938
  • Running Time: 97 minutes





What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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 THE LADY VANISHES as a peak of Alfred Hitchcock's UK 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:November 1, 1938
DVD release date:May 27, 1998
Cast:Margaret Lockwood, May Whitty, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Criterion Collection
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Lady Vanishes was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written bydontwantascreenname May 30, 2011

unexpectedly good :)

i first watched this film as an ap english assignment and was sure i would hate it. however, i found that the characters iris and gilbert were easy to identify with because i felt the same confusion they did at miss froy's disappearance. the realism of the characters enhanced the believability of the movie and actually made it a good experience. nothing inappropriate--the girls in their slips are actually wearing more than most women today wear in public. the premise (attempted murder of a spy) could be a bit scary if watched late at night by a very young child, but overall was very conservative. watch for the biggest goof--before iris hits a man with a champagne bottle the second time, the actor cringes, knowing what's coming. my ten-year-old brother loved it, and there was nothing i felt i needed to cover his ears (or eyes) for.
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviefan115 March 12, 2012

one mf my favorite Hitchcocks

this is one of my favoirte Hicthcocks. it's so much fun, and kids and their families will enjoy this entertaining thriller that theaches them nothing's what is seems, and that true love conquers all. Nice job, Hitch. :)
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Teen, 16 years old Written byevolinag October 19, 2012

Classic crime thriller has some mild violence. 8+

"The Lady Vanishes" is a thriller by Alfred Hitchcock. Being released in 1938, it was made before Hitchcock went to Hollywood. It is a classic crime thriller from the earlier days of filmmaking. It is about the passenger of a train, an old woman called Mrs. Froy, who suddenly disappears. It seems that only one other remembers her, a young woman named Iris. Now Iris tries to figure out what happened to Mrs. Froy. Well, as simple as the story might sounds, the movie itself is very thrilling and quite entertaining. After a few minutes, the viewers get interested in the story and start trying to figure out what happened themselves. Not many crime thrillers are successful in creating such a nail-biter athmosphere. Like in Hitchcock's later movies, the movie starts calm, but once the story goes on, it can get really gripping. For lovers of classic movies, "The Lady Vanishes" is an entertaining and fascinating crime thriller of the old days where you did not need action or edge to make a good movie. (SPOILERS may follow:) As for the age restriction: Note that the movie was made in the 1930s and that everything is black & white: There is one scene near the ending in which we see a gunfight. One character is hit and dies. There is absolutely no blood. A character is hit onto the head (he collapses, but survives). The movie is not any disturbing or gory. (END OF SPOILERS) Kids around 8 years surely can handle this movie, i've seen more intensity in Disney movies.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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