The Lady Vanishes (MRA)

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Details At A Glance

Category Thriller/Comedy Introduction - with Tony Curtis (2:45) 
Theatrical Trailer - Shadow Of A Doubt (1:23)
Year Released 1938
Running Time
95:37 minutes
(not 94 minutes as stated on packaging) 
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Alfred Hitchcock
GB Pictures
MRA Entertainment
Starring Margaret Lockwood
Michael Redgrave
Paul Lukas
Dame May Whitty
Cecil Parker
Linden Travers
Mary Clare 
Case Black Amaray
RPI $19.95 Music Louis Levy
Cecil Milner

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No
16x9 Enhancement No
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles Spanish
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, after credits

Plot Synopsis

    In one of those not-quite-so-planned exercises, shortly after getting the Avenue One DVD of The Lady Vanishes for review, the same film turned up for review from MRA Entertainment and so we have the joy of comparing two different presentations of the same film and making a call as to the version of choice. There is little point repeating the plot comments made in the Avenue One DVD review and I would suggest you head there for the details if you need a refresher.

Transfer Quality


    The first thing to note about this release is the fact that it is an NTSC formatted DVD and therefore you will require a display device capable of accepting such a signal.

    The transfer is presented in a Full Frame format, and it is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Amongst the efforts I have seen from this source, one of which I have enshrined in the Hall Of Shame, this is actually one of the better ones. Overall, it is an average transfer as far as sharpness is concerned, with a significant degree of variability throughout the transfer ranging from woeful to acceptable. Shadow detail naturally reflects the age of the film and this does again wander all over the place in this regard, although it has to be said that the tendency is towards the lower end of the acceptable scale. Another decidedly variable transfer as far as clarity goes, with some doses of grain thrown in for good measure throughout the transfer. There is somewhat of a problem with low level noise in the transfer, nothing really untoward but noticeably worse than in the Avenue One DVD.

    Another sterling example of greys and greys here as opposed to black and white, although on the odd occasion this does display a greater depth to the blacks than is the case on the Avenue One DVD. The transfer does suffer just a little though in not being quite as bright as that DVD. Again, if I had not have seen The Criterion Collection release, then this would have been deemed slightly better than average for a film of this vintage. There is a general consistency in the tones throughout the film.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is also not too great an issue with film-to-video artefacts here, with aliasing not being too prevalent and wobble and jitter being kept reasonably restrained. There was a distinct problem with film artefacts in the transfer, and these are definitely more prevalent here than in the Avenue One DVD release. This is certainly not digitally mastered from the best available sources as the cover proclaims - but the source material is generally better looking than I was expecting.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one soundtrack on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 effort that is once again optimistically described as surround encoded in Michael D's trusty DVD spec sheet. There is no surround encoding present on this DVD unless my ears are well and truly deceiving me.

    Overall, there is not too much of a problem with the dialogue, which comes up quite well in the soundtrack and relatively easy to understand. There did not seem to be any major issues with audio sync in the transfer, although I felt the initial scenes in the hotel were just a little out of sync - probably inherent in the source print used for this transfer.

    The music comes from Louis Levy and Cecil Milner, and obviously its stature has not changed from the Avenue One DVD review.

    In many ways this is remarkably similar to the Avenue One DVD with the only real difference being the static is not present here. However, balancing that off are a couple of instances of drop outs in the sound. Other than that, this is not too bad a sound, perhaps a little bit more congested than that on the Avenue One DVD release - possibly reflecting the marginally lower transfer rate here. There is no surround or bass channel usage here at all. Despite the slight problems, this really does not come up too bad for a soundtrack of its age.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras package here is the fairly typical effort from Laserlight, which means nothing too much to worry about. The Special Edition moniker appended to the DVD is pretty much inappropriate.


    Another unremarkable effort lacking any sort of enhancement.

Introduction - Tony Curtis (2:45)

    This is what obviously constitutes the reason for the Special Edition tag, but I still wonder quite why we need them. He is hardly the best presenter and there really is not much of import conveyed by the introduction. Of marginal worth only in my view. Presented in a full frame format, in non-16x9 enhanced colour and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Theatrical Trailer - Shadow Of A Doubt (1:23)

    Apart from being of rather dubious technical quality at times - quite murky and well-blessed with film artefacts - one also has to wonder what connection it has to The Lady Vanishes, other than they have the same director. Presented in a full frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

    There are a number of Region 1 releases of the film available, with most being similar to this effort. However, this film has a direct competitor on the local market, at an equivalent price point, and therefore the choice should really boil down to which is the best Region 4 release. In terms of transfer, I would have to say that the PAL formatted Avenue One DVD is a little smoother looking and marginally less problematic than this Laserlight NTSC formatted DVD. This effort has probably the marginally better sound overall, which balances up the releases somewhat. The choice if you have not got an NTSC capable display monitor is easy - Avenue One DVD. If however that is not an issue, then I would still marginally favour the Avenue One DVD release in Region 4, as it boasts a slightly more appropriate extras package than this release. However, if you really want the film, there is really only one version to get - the release done by The Criterion Collection.


    Another Alfred Hitchcock film and therefore a worthwhile view. This particular version is not too bad from a transfer point of view, but it certainly does have its problems. Whilst I would not like to be without my Criterion Collection version of The Lady Vanishes, individual budgetary constraints may well compel the purchase of one of the local releases. Whilst I would marginally favour the Avenue One DVD, this release is by no means completely overshadowed and has just as much merit as the other release in many respects.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
2nd November 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL