Alfred Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES Decoded

Podcast Episode

Alfred Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES Decoded

We decode the Hitchcock movie THE LADY VANISHES. What movies has this influenced? Did you know Hitchcock used this much humor? and more...

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes was released in 1938 and is based, in part, on the book “The Wheel Spins”. It has been remade three times for the big screen and television.

As the title implies, a lady vanishes while on a train. This movie is full of intrigue and is a fantastic spy story. So, once again, a train is a key location for a spy movie and here, it is vital for the story. Music is also a key piece to this movie as well. Listen to find out more!

The Lady Vanishes has more humor than most Hitchcock movies. And, the characters Charters and Caldicott appear in this movie for comic relief. They were so successful that they appeared in other movies in the future.

An interesting trivia question is asked about one of the actors in this episode! See if you know the answer!

So, join Dan and Tom as they decode The Lady Vanishes: Plot and scene analysis, new discoveries, and what movies had this movie influenced or how it was influenced by other spy movies. It is a fun journey!

You can find all of our podcast episodes on our Podcast page.

If you haven’t seen this movie it is available at no cost on YouTube.

Among the topics we decode from The Lady Vanishes:

  • The influence of Agatha Christie
  • Trains in spy movies
  • The opening set
  • The Hays Code and how Hitchock plays with it
  • The flowerpot
  • The use of music
  • Harriman’s Tea
  • The conspiracy
  • and More …

 


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Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS Decoded!

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Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS Decoded!

Today we decode a Hitchcock classic, NOTORIOUS with our special co-host Bill Koenig of The Spy Command.

Dinner parties, cocktail parties, tuxedos, espionage, World War II war criminals, love, deception, murder, infiltration, and secret plans are all in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 spy movie, NOTORIOUS!

Today we decode this Hitchcock classic, NOTORIOUS with our special co-host, Bill Koenig of The Spy Command!  Bill joined us on our February 1st 2022 episode when we decoded The Man Who Knew Too Much.

This is a fun discussion on a fantastic spy movie.

Comments/Feedback: Info@SpyMovieNavigator.com

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Alfred Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES Decoded

We decode the Hitchcock movie THE LADY VANISHES. What movies has this influenced? Did you know Hitchcock used this much humor? and more...

Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

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<em>The 39 Steps</em>

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made! If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen…

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Best of the Rest Movies Podcasts

Listen to our podcasts of our Best of the Rest category of spy movies.  This is just one part of the Cracking the Code of Spy Movies Channel.

Or go to your favorite podcast app (links on left on PC or below on mobile) and subscribe to Cracking the Code of Spy Movies.

North By Northwest – Part 2

Podcast Episode

North By Northwest – Part 2

Join Dan and Tom as they are Cracking the Code of Spy Movies. Today they navigate through part 2 of the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Join Dan and Tom as they dive deeply into Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “monumental” spy thriller, North by Northwest.  Some have called this the first Bond movie!  From New York City to Chicago to Mount Rushmore, the thrill is on!

We look at scenes, comparisons to other spy movies, actors and insights into the key scenes and backstories!    Fun stuff for one of the best spy films ever created, with one iconic scene that everyone knows, the Crop Duster scene!

This is part 2 of a 2 Part North by Northwest podcast.

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This 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic is one of the great spy movies.
In part 2 of this podcast, we’ll examine:
  • The Crop Duster Scene
  •  How the Crop Duster Scene influenced a scene in the movie From Russia With Love
  •  How did they get to that address in Chicago
  •  The Auction Scene
  •  The double pursuit
  •  Roger’s death
  •  Roger’s influence on women
  •  Mount Rushmore
  •  The last train ride

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Alfred Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS Decoded!

Today we decode a Hitchcock classic, NOTORIOUS with our special co-host Bill Koenig of The Spy Command.

ALL THE OLD KNIVES First Reactions – No Spoilers

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Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

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North By Northwest – Part 1

Podcast Episode

North By Northwest – Part 1

Join Dan and Tom as they are Cracking the Code of Spy Movies. Today they navigate through part 1 of the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Join Dan and Tom as they dive deeply into Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “monumental” spy thriller, North by Northwest.  Some have called this the first Bond movie!  From New York City to Chicago to Mount Rushmore, the thrill is on!

We look at scenes, comparisons to other spy movies, actors and insights into the key scenes and backstories!    Fun stuff for one of the best spy films ever created, with one iconic scene that everyone knows, the Crop Duster scene!

This is part 1 of a 2 Part North by Northwest podcast.

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This 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest,  is one of the great spy movies of all time.

In part 1 of this podcast, we’ll examine:

  • The overall plot of North by Northwest
  • Is this really the first James Bond movie (albeit without James Bond)?
  • Roger’s unfortunate case of mistaken identity
  • How two early scenes may have influenced On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    • Let’s all sit in the back seat and I’ll joke around
    • Is that how you hold a cigarette?
  • Where the line “Pay the 2 dollars” originated
  • How Hitchcock got the shot of the United Nations building
  • The sexual conversations Eve and Roger have on the train
    • Including one word that had to be overdubbed
  •  A reference to David O. Selznick

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Q Planes (1939) – aka Clouds Over Europe

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

Roger Thornhill gets mistaken for someone named George Kaplan.  This simple mistake will cause Roger many problems.   Notice how he is put in the back seat of the car between two henchmen.   We've seen in another movie - On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  Listen to our podcast on North by Northwest where we go into more detail about this car ride.

Mr. Townsend’s Death

In this scene, Roger learns that Mr. Townsend is not the man he thinks he is. Roger (Cary Grant) finally meets the real Mr. Townsend and realizes he's been duped. In this clip, we see the meeting at the United Nations building and what happens to Mr. Townsend.  Pay attention to the camera angles - fantastic - especially the last one!

Now this is a train scene

Most Erotic Conversation!  Of all the train scenes we've seen in spy movies, this clip shows one of the most erotic conversations ever.  It puts any conversation between James Bond and a Bond Girl to shame.  And this is in 1959! The quips between Eve and Roger are amazing.  They even had to dub out a line that was too risqué. Watch Eve's lips in the clip and see what you think!  Listen to our podcast to hear our take on this scene!

North By Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller, North by Northwest is a movie about an advertising executive who gets caught up in the world of spies. A case of mistaken identity early in the movie sets Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and the audience up for a thrilling journey across America.

In this curation (and in the podcast), we examine things beyond just the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:

  • A crafty, yet charming villain, much like Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill
  • Suspense on a train
  • How the henchmen put Thornhill in the car which foretells a scene in James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
  • An unknown criminal organization – Can you say Spectre or Quantum?
  • Stars from the television shows “Get Smart” and Man From U.N.C.L.E. are the good guys in this movie year’s before their tv spy-dom
  • A joke that is told is based on an old vaudeville routine and first showed up on film in the 1945 movie Ziegfeld Follies
  • Airplanes trying to run the hero down, a la James Bond in From Russia With Love
  • And many others

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It’s a crop duster – look out!

One of the Most Famous Scenes in ANY Movie: Check out this scene that foretells something similar in From Russia With Love.  It's a crop duster, Roger - DUCK or you'll lose your head.  Fabulous photography and directing here.  You can feel the tension and fear.  As Hitchcock once said, "I just want to scare the hell out of people."  This is one of his most famous scenes, ever, to do just that.

The Precursor To Bond’s Appeal To Women?

This scene is short but impactfully funny.  Roger is trying to escape and ends up cutting through this woman's room.  At first, she's aghast.  Then she sees Roger and changes her tune. She only utters the same word twice.  Both times have very different meanings.   Roger's reaction is wonderful. This movie came out four years before the James Bond movie Dr. No, but Roger's sex appeal to women here sure carries over to the Bond series.

Mount Rushmore

A great spy movie needs great scenery.  Check out this clip of Roger & Eve as they try to escape Leonard (Martin Landau) on Mount Rushmore.  Again, great tension, great anticipation, great photography - the hallmarks of a Hitchcock film, and this spy film!  We will see lots of Bond films with great fight scenes taking place in perilous places - some of that began here.

All’s well that ends well

The movie ends with Roger and Eve on Mount Rushmore.  He's just proposed but Leonard is still pursuing them.   More tension, and then a great Hitchcock cut takes us to the final scene.   Train through the tunnel . . . concludes the film that Hitchcock mastered as a very sensuous movie in 1959!  We will see many spy movies to come, where the spy and the woman unite at the end!
Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

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Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

Join Dan and Tom as they are cracking the code of spy movies! Here, we're taking a close look at the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock movie, Secret Agent, its influence on future spy movies, and how sometimes being a secret agent is not that secret!

Secret Agent – 1936

Join us as we’re cracking the code of spy movies!

Here, Dan and Tom are taking a close look at the 1936 Hitchcock movie, Secret Agent, its influence on future spy movies, and how sometimes being a secret agent is not that secret!

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  • We dissect the key scenes in the epic spy film from 1936, Secret Agent.
  • We look at how this film has influenced spy movies to come, and the impact these early spy films have had on the genre.
  • We look at some scenes and how these scenes are the first time we see them but will see them again, lie the faked death of a person so he can spy incognito.
  • Early Hitchcock!

Note: You can watch the entire movie on YouTube: (here is the link)


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<em>The 39 Steps</em>

Podcast Episode

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made! If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film. Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it. We'll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made!  If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film.

Released in 1935, this movie sets the table for future spy movies to come. From helicopter chases and train chases to pursuit through unknown lands, this film is a must for all spy movie fans!

Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it.  We’ll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.

 

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The 39 Steps

Hannay – Robert Donat
Pamala – Madeleine Carrol
Miss Smith – Lucie Mannheim
Professor Jordan – Godfrey Tearle
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Summary on Wikipedia

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, released in 1935, is considered by many to be the first spy film. So, if you are a spy movie fan, then we must take a close look at The 39 Steps to see exactly what this film is about, how it may have influenced other spy films to come, and what happenings in the real world influenced this spy film. As in many Hitchcock movies, like North By Northwest, Notorious, The Man Who Knew Too Much – an innocent bystander is thrust into the world of espionage.

A woman agent who has no affiliation with any country is trying to stop England’s secrets of air defense from falling into the hands of some certain brilliant agent of a foreign power who wants these secrets. Not because she loves England, but because they will pay her better. This is what she tells Hannay – that at the theater where they had just come from, there were two men who wanted to kill her. She and Hannay went back to Hannay’s flat. And he looks to the street from his flat window, he sees two men – waiting. She tells Hannay that he is in just as much trouble as her now – and if he ever heard of The 39 Steps. Their chief has a dozen names and can look like a 100 people, but the one thing he cannot disguise is he has the top part of his right-hand little finger missing. She wants a map of Scotland because that is where the man she must visit next is.
This film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carrol.

If you are a spy movie fan, you can watch the entire 1935 film on YouTube.

More Details

The film opens in a theater, in London, where a man on stage is about to answer virtually any questions the audience may ask. He is, in a sense, Mr. Know-It-All, called in the film Mr. Memory, who every day commits to memory 50 facts in a variety of categories (science, history, geography, etc.). There is a haunting musical theme that is associated with Mr. Memory that sticks in Hannay’s head.

A man walks in in a trench coat and sits down. Later a woman is shown at the bar. The man in the trench coat, who turns out to be Hannay, asks how far Winnipeg is from Montreal – and Mr. Memory indicates that the gentleman is a Canadian. So, we see he is not a Brit. After a bunch of questions, an official-looking gentleman comes in (police) and there is a scuffle with a guy at the bar. During the commotion, Hannay finds himself face-to-face with a woman. After a while, she asks if she could go home with him. He says, “well, it’s your funeral.” Spoiler: He turns out to be correct.

They leave the music hall and go to his place, 122 (looks like) Portland Place: Portland Mansion. He has a furnished flat as he is from Canada here for only a few months. He asks her name: “Smith.” She looks Eastern European, has an accent – Smith? Ok, now we are a little suspicious of her and who she is.

The Death of the Spy

Hannay sees Smith come into his room in this flat, with a piece of paper, stumbling, and saying, “You’re next!” She falls, revealing a knife sunk halfway into her back. She collapses and dies. Hannay does not know what to do next. The local police think he has killed her – it was in his flat. And he flees, remembering what she said about Scotland.
Not so easy to get out of his flat. The men are still there waiting for him now.

Hannay’s Getaway from his Flat – the Milkman Scene

Because Hannay is now being watched – and he does not know who wants to get him – the police for the murder he did not commit, or the people who killed the spy – he must devise a clever way to get out of his flat. The milkman scene is a classic, and we see other bait and switch scenes in future spy moves too, like in James Bond’s The Living Daylights where the enemy spy kills the milkman, then disguises himself as the milkman so he can get into the safe house where a Russian agent is kept who are defecting to the West. Here, Hannay needs the milkman’s uniform as a disguise to try to escape the two guys waiting to kill him.

The Trains Scene, Flying Scotsman

He heads for the train, the Flying Scotsman. In this clip, we see the death scene, but cuts to the train scene – Hannay is aboard and two are in pursuit of him.
This is the first of many train scenes (chases, fights, key meetings) we will see in spy movies to come! (Just a few to think about: Secret Agent, From Russia With Love, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission: Impossible 1, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and others). Here, for the first time, is the original chase scene on the train – with tense moments, intense drama, and a man, Hannay, trying to escape from the officials who are after him, who think he killed the woman spy in his flat.

Just pay attention to the clanging of the wheels, the lighting on the train, the bridge, the pursuit – all part of the blueprint for future spy movies. Two gentlemen read a newspaper across from him on the train about the murder and how Hannay is wanted by the police. The police are aboard the train after a stop and are looking for him. He enters a compartment and kisses a strange woman, who turns him in – but later becomes an ally after a while. The bridge in the movie is the Forth Bridge in Scotland, which opened in 1890, and it is still around and can be visited. The foot chase on the train creates tension and distress. Hannay, while innocent, is trying to escape. The chase is a foreshadowing of future chase scenes and fight scenes on trains as we will see in Spy Train, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission Impossible 1 and others. His escape to the bridge, Forth Bridge, is electrifying and for the viewer, a relief. The train is stopped on the bridge as the police look for him. This somewhat foreshadows View to a Kill bridge scene in San Francisco for Roger Moore’s Bond. Here, the police re-board the train thinking Hannay got back on, but Hannay did not.

Wandering now around Scotland, he stops and talks to a man, and asks if there are any newcomers around – he says yes an Englishman, a professor, and yes, he is near the town that the spy was to go to. Hannay must stay the night at this farm, meets the man’s wife, who misses Glasgow where she is from. He flatters her. She seems to like him. This scene is important because, as Hannay reads the newspaper he sees that the murder has been traced to Scotland. He knows they are on him. The wife knows that he is the man they are after. In fact, she awakes in the middle of the night, her husband notices, and she tells Hannay the police are coming and he better hurry. The husband thinks they are making love, but he tells the husband the police are after him and pays the man 5 pounds. But when the police come to the door, the wife knows her husband will turn Hannay in. Margaret (she reveals her name) gives him her husband’s “Sunday” coat.

With police still in pursuit, he runs. A small helicopter is looking for him too – ah, remember we will see more helicopter pursuits in spy films, like in From Russia With Love! He runs and is running along a river – the Forth Bridge transverses the estuary (Firth) of the River Forth – so this is probably the River Forth, not far from Alt-Na-Shellach (now we think it is called Achnashellach) – a large estate that he was looking for.

Hannay finds the estate, rings the bell, asks for the Master, and says to ask him if he knows Miss Annabella Smith (the spy). He enters, the police show up, and the maid answering the door denies any strangers are there. Hannay introduces himself as Mr. Hammond and he is from Miss Smith. The people know about the murderer being in Scotland, so know he is Hannay and asks if Annabella was killed and why he is here in Scotland. He says she was coming to see you. That the foreign agent who killed her is headed up by a man who had part of his little finger missing. He reveals that part of his (Professor Jordan ) little finger is missing and that he is about to convey some very vital information out of the country.

He shoots Hannay, and he falls. Turns out the bullet hits the hymnbook that was in the farmer’s “Sunday” coat. Hannay escapes to the sheriff. He turns him into the police who have been after him. The other two men who killed Smith are outside the police station. Hannay escapes through the window. He loses himself in a parade and the woman on the train (Pamela) turns him in again and Hannay tells her to call England and Scotland Yard. She says no. She and Hannay are in a car being taken somewhere. It is a suspicious situation. Pamala and he are now wondering – and Hannay says I bet your Sherriff principal has the top joint of his little finger missing. Pamela overhears something that makes her believe Hannay is telling the truth.

Handcuffed together, Pamela and Hannay escape.

The police are still on his tracks as he stays at an inn with Pamela and they show up to ask the innkeeper about new travelers. But they are supposedly in the good graces of the wife and she sends off the police. Pamala now decides Hannay has been speaking the truth. Eventually, they make it back to England. The haunting Mr. Memory musical theme is still in Hannay’s head as he has been whistling it in various scenes. Is Pamela the first Spy Girl (ala “Bond Girl”)? If so, she is tough and self-sufficient, and a model for future spy women. Think Ursula Andres as Honey Rider in Dr. No.

For spy movie fans, this movie has continuous action – not the kind of special effects action scenes in modern spy films – but continuous action that creates tension onscreen and in the viewer’s mind.

The Theater Finale

Back in London, Pamela goes to Scotland Yard – she had phoned from Scotland (unbeknownst to us). Scotland Yard is not believing her. They want Hannay. She goes to the theater. They follow. Hannay is in the theater too. The tension is police are following her to get to Hannay. Hannay sees someone up in a box, borrows specs and sees a hand with the top knuckle of the little finger missing!

Mr. Memory is now on stage! Hannay figures it out – Mr. Memory has committed all the secret plans to memory and Hannay thinks Professor Jordan will get him out of the country after the show. Hannay is cornered by the police and he shouts out to Mr. Memory, ”What are the 39 Steps?” Mr. Memory starts to speak, “The 39 Steps is an organization of spies collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of . . .” and he is shot by Professor Jordan, who leaps from the box and eventually onto the stage (ala John Wilkes Booth) and is caught. Hannay: “Mr. Memory – what is the secret formula you were taking out of the country?” Mr. Memory: “The first feature of the engine is….renders the engine completely silent.” And he dies. The secret is safe! Hannay is innocent!


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Alfred Hitchcock’s THE LADY VANISHES Decoded

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The last 13 minutes

Elsa thinks Marvin was so kind, and she sees him on the train and tells him she is alone. She looks worried and goes to a berth (1A) with Marvin, who says to her: “I don’t trust you – you’re in the spy racket too. The lovely neglected wife and I fell for it.” He pulls a gun on her and asks if the other two are on the train. If so, he says, they are dead. Elsa is trying to play her role. Marvin was going to have the train searched when she tells Marvin she knows who he is and loves him. Chaos outside as the air force is shooting at the train. He kisses her. We see Ashenden (Brodie) and The General go into the same car with Elsa and Marvin. Marvin quips, “I congratulate you all – especially Madam. When does the shooting begin?” Ashenden tells Elsa to wait outside, as The General says, “It is my job.” In a surprise move, Elsa pulls a gun on Ashenden (Brodie) and The General, as a flashback to what she told Brodie earlier – “I’d rather see you dead than go through with this.” Elsa is with Marvin when the planes start bombing the train – he whispers in her ear: “Chivalrous German spy saves British lady from British bombs. “ Just then, bombs wreck the tracks just ahead of the train, and it derails, before The General can take care of Marvin. In the ensuing wreckage, Marvin shoots The General, then both die. Elsa and Brodie survive. The General at the beginning of the movie who got Elsa and Brodie to agree gets a note (a lot of notes in this movie): “ Home safely but never again. Mr. and Mrs. Ashenden” The scene shifts to newspaper headlines with the successes of the Allies! Again, following Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps the year before (where we saw the first train scene in a spy movie), we see additional train scenes in this movie, and of course in many spy movies to follow like From Russia With Love (Bond and Red Grant, and Tee Hee), Mission Impossible- 1996 (Hunt vs. Phelps, and the helicopter chase), Bourne Ultimatum (Waterloo station and Russian railway station), The Spy Who Loved Me (Bond and Jaws), SPECTRE (Bond and Mr. Hinx), Skyfall, Octopussy and many more.

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