The Blu-ray Disc
Criterion releases The Lady Vanishes for the third time, essentially giving its 2007 DVD edition the Blu-ray treatment. Presented in 1080p high definition in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, the film looks fantastic, with an exceptionally clean digital transfer that comes across quite film-like. The source materials prevent the transfer from achieving that silvery, detail-heavy sharpness that the best black-and-white Blu-rays feature, but the slight softness inherent in the image is not unpleasant.
Audio is presented in an uncompressed monaural track that’s a little on the quiet side. Sudden bursts of loud noise like a train whistle can come off a little edgy, but dialogue is clean and clear, with little to no background noise intruding.
All of the extras from the two-disc 2007 DVD are ported over to this Blu-ray edition. Best of all, the bonus feature film, Crook’s Tour, gets the deluxe 1080p treatment and looks quite nice. The film stars Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, reprising their roles as Charters and Caldicott, in what was one of a series of films to include the characters after their popular debut in The Lady Vanishes.
Also included is a 10-minute excerpt from the 50-hour interview François Truffaut conducted with Hitchcock in the early 1960s. This feature is audio-only with clips from the film covering the conversation, which can feature some dense translating that makes it a little hard to understand at points.
Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff contributes an informative 30-minute video essay about the film, its production history, themes and visual strategies, while a commentary track by Bruce Eder — produced originally for the laserdisc release — hits on some similar points.
The disc also includes a small gallery of poster art, lobby cards and behind-the-scenes photos. The package includes a booklet with essays by Geoffrey O’Brien and Charles Barr.
The Bottom Line
Any Hitchcock on Blu-ray is a welcome thing, and with major studios like Universal dragging their feet on getting his films upgraded (how are Vertigo, Rear Window and The Birds not out on Blu-ray here yet?), it’s nice to see Criterion picking up the torch and doing an impressive job.