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"Lady Vanishes" - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Criterion Collection
Release Date:
December 6, 2011
Special Features:

See Below


Criterion usually does an exceptional job with reissuing older films on Blu-ray and DVD there are, however, exceptions to this rule (for example "The Scarlet Empress"). I am happy to report that with Hitchcock's classic British thriller the breezy "The Lady Vanishes" that Criterion has done a stellar job of reissuing this classic title to Blu-ray and on DVD.***

Image & Sound:

Image quality for the Blu-ray is exceptionally good given the age of the movie and the fact that the original negative no longer exists. From the booklet--"This high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm composite fine-grain master positive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image Systems' DVNR was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction."***

So the film has been cleaned up substanially without the over processing that I feared might result in an older film like this. Grain is relatively consistent througout the presentation with solid blacks and the darker sequences (and there are, as with any Hitchcock film, quite a few) benefits substanially from this improved presentation with better fine detail. While there are places where there is minor damage to the print used here, the presentation is, on the whole, quite pleasing and a top notch transfer given the various sources that Criterion had to work with for this particular title. This is a marked step up from the previous DVD transfer on Blu-ray. I haven't seen the DVD companion reissued at the same time as this but if it is from the same source, I would expect similar improvement if not quite as spectacular image quality.***

This is a region "A" title and it IS locked according to my player so you'll need an all region BD player to watch the film.***

The mono audio doesn't suffer from any noticeable drop outs and dialogue is crisp and clear for the most part.***

Special Features:

The special features are often where Criterion will shine and this is no exception. We get the relatively obscure title 1941 title "Crook's Tour" directed by John Baxter which reunited actors Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne. It looks quite good as well it is, unlike the main title, not subtitled.***

We get an audio interview from the sessions that Truffaut used to produce his book on Hitchcock.*** "Mystery Train" features author and Hitchcock authority Leonard Leff discussing the making of the film and its various themes.***

Film historian Bruce Eder provides a good commentary track on the making of the film giving us trivia as well as some context for the making of the film and where it fits in Hitchcock's pantheon of great films.***

As with all Criterion editions we get an illustrated booklet featuring two essays by critic Geoffrey O'Brien and Charles Barr providing us, again, with some understanding of the making of the film, where it fits in terms of Hitchcock's body of work (and given that "Lady" was a pre-existing title rather than one that Hitchcock himself initiated it is quite fascinating to read about how he shaped it to his specific style).***

Final Words:

It's important to note that if all you're interested in is the film and just passable image quality, there are other DVDs (but currently as of this writing) but not domestic Blu-ray editions of this title. If you're uncertain about this film, I'd suggest renting "The Lady Vanishes" to see if you want to take the plunge on the Blu-ray or DVD--older films like these are sometimes an acquired taste as the pacing, subject matter and acting are driven by different beliefs, ideas and approaches based on their time.***

If you are a Hitchcock fan particularly if his early talkies I'd highly recommend this.***


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