Selina Cadell as Miss Froy in “The Lady Vanishes” (2013) – reviewed by George

In this second remake, this one for BBC-TV, there is no humor, just straightforward, grinding suspense, and it is very, very good. The heroine’s name here is Iris Carr (Tuppence Middleton), and she is slightly unsympathetic. Making her a bit of a snot works well however, and allows her to be completely alone even though surrounded by older countrymen and women who disapprove of her, and are therefore much more ready to believe that she’s faking everything for attention. At the inn, where everyone dresses for dinner, her young crowd of wastrels sits outdoors, away from the middle-aged, and acts out. For instance, when one of the young crowd makes a play for Iris, she rebuffs him and his reply leads all within earshot to regard her as the aggressor. So his wife makes a huge scene out of castigating Iris for her husband-stealing ways. And Evelyn Floodporter (Stephanie Cole) says, “Dreadful people. Awful to think they’re English.”
Here, the Todhunters (Keeley Hawes and Julian Rhind-Tutt) are unchanged, but Charters and Caldicott have been turned into elderly sisters who want to get back for the last day of a flower show. Rose Floodporter (Gemma Jones) is the flower-grower.
Iris can no longer stand the company of her group, and so lets them leave without her. On her afternoon alone she goes hiking and falls down a steep slope, raising a knot on the back of her head. Later at the inn Mr. and Mrs. Todhunter walk past the Floodporters and Reverend and Mrs. Barnes (Pip Torrens and Sandy McDade), and Evelyn Floodporter says that he looks so familiar. Mrs. Barnes, in her sweet, soft way says, “Perhaps they’re not married at all.” And, ignoring her intuition, the Reverend scolds her a bit for not accepting people for what they are. He then leaves to speak to friends he has made in the village, and Evelyn asks Mrs. Barnes, “How can he tall to them when they don’t speak English?” Mrs. Barnes: “He makes them understand – with common humanity.”
The next day Iris tries to leave on the train for Trieste, but an inn employee warns her that the ticket seller will say all the reserved seats are gone, so give him a big tip. Iris is not that accepting of advice; when the ticket seller starts his spiel, she just pays him before she can hear the rest.
Incidentally, this time the inn is in Croatia, and while the other two films looked back to budding Nazi power, this film looks back to the time just before the Croatian War of Independence (as far as I could tell). A dissident, an intellectual, has been murdered, and the brother of the Baroness (Benedikte Hansen) has been accused. He has an alibi, but it is furnished by his family, so any contradiction cannot be allowed. And the nanny Miss Froy (Selina Cadell), who is taking a brief vacation to see her parents in England, has innocently noted that the dates of his claimed visit to the Baroness do not match the actual dates.
On the train Iris finds herself sharing a compartment with the usual people: the Baroness, her servants, her sister (who is new), and Miss Froy. The second-class tickets were all sold, so the Baroness paid the difference for Miss Froy to ride first class, in the Baroness’s own compartment. Well, don’t look at me! Miss Froy is certainly impressed with the generosity. Professor Hastings (Alex Jennings) pops in to speak with the Baroness in Croatian. As he leaves a porter appears, making an announcement in Croatian. Miss Froy says the restaurant car is open, and offers to accompany Iris to get tea. There is no fuss about the tea package or name written on the glass of the window – these things are just omitted.
When perhaps learning Croatian in order to be able to more fully converse is suggested, Iris sums up colonialism in two sentences. “I can’t think of anything more boring than learning a language! Why can’t more foreigners speak English?”
Back in the compartment Iris is still feeling the effects of the bump on the head, and is going in and out of consciousness. Then she wakes up and Miss Froy is gone. Standard maddening responses from the Baroness, and Iris goes down the corridor to the club car and loudly asks, “Does anyone speak English?” Max Hare (Tom Hughes) rises and offers to help; so finally at the 30-minute mark the hero appears. Max is traveling with one of his professors, who turns out to be Professor Hastings, the Baroness’s friend, who refuses to listen to anything against her, and anyway is congenitally suspicious of stories told by young women of a certain social class.
As more people end up in jeopardy and as the bad guys seem to hold all the cards, the suspense becomes throat-closingly thick.
Directed by Diarmuid Lawrence from a Screenplay by Fiona Seres, which was based on the  (here it’s not called a story) Novel “The Wheel Spins” by Ethel Lina White, this is very unlike the other two versions, keeping the suspense going virtually all the time and throwing out any attempt at humor. So, although quite different, it is still effective and exciting, and well-worth seeing.

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