27 May 2010

The Lady Vanishes *

I've said this so many times, even I'm bored of the discussion, but I am a bigger fan of the middle years of Hitchcock's body of work than his more famous later, Hollywood years. Here, the craft is significantly looser, and the story isn't trying quite so hard. In its place is a lot of relaxed fun and silly moments surrounding a just-so plot of disappearance and espionage. I don't have as much to say about this film as I sometimes do, partially because I'm in the middle of moving and haven't slept much lately and so I'm a little distracted, but partially also because this movie doesn't spark in me any instant thoughts I need to write down. Or maybe I have some things to say, but I'm too unfocused to channel the thoughts in any particular direction or into any specific thread.

To wit: It's funny and it's thrilling all at once, and the moments of awkward humor or my-aren't-British-people-stuffy humor are great, and it's pre-WWII tension is smart and exciting. It's got a funny and fresh-feeling "meet cute" between the man and the woman, and the scuffle in the storage car with the magician is pretty fantastic stuff. For my money, and by my spoiled ("savvy"?) critical eye, the story is too obvious and too easy, with uncountable coincidences propelling the plot, and it doesn't make the audience work for much. So it's not perfect. But it is fun, and it's got the oddest tone, straddling screwball and suspense unabashedly. So there, that's what I thought. I apologize (to myself? or anyone who stumbles upon this?) for being so scattershot, but I saw the film in a scattershot state, so I react to the film likewise. (It's going to be a long month.)

Seen at Laurelhurst Theater.

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