(1938)4Brendon HanleyIt's easy to forget, with all his successes, that Alfred Hitchcock's career suffered quite a few periods of commercial decline. Following his two international breakthroughs, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935), the director produced three films with relatively disappointing box-office returns. In 1938, he broke out of this slump with the popular and entertaining The Lady Vanishes. The director's penultimate movie before leaving England, it's a very light picture, more dependent on comedy than almost any of his previous films. A good deal of the humor comes from the interplay between the definitively British tourists Charters and Caldicott, played indelibly by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, that the actors would reprise in several other films. Despite (or perhaps because of) its "Englishness," The Lady Vanishes made quite a splash in America, securing Hitchcock a place in Hollywood. The charming script by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat was based on the popular Ethel Lina White novel, The Wheel Spins.