Bathroom Blunders of 1941

Good Leonard Leff video essay on the Criterion DVD of THE LADY VANISHES. Light, breezy, but smartly observed — it fits the film’s tone. I was surprised he didn’t suggest that the mysterious box Hitch is carrying in the train station doesn’t contain a device for catching elephants in the Scottish highlands, but we all miss a trick now and then.

Also included is CROOK’S TOUR, the best of the ultra-cheap movies made to cash in on the success of Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne’s comic relief Englishmen abroad. For copyright reasons, this is the only one where they star as C&C — but they were paired together under different names in a bunch of films, including DEAD OF NIGHT, and played C&C in a supporting capacity for TLV’s writers, Launder & Gilliat, in other movies. It’s a tangled history.

CROOK’S TOUR, while in no ways a distinguished piece of filmmaking, is pretty enjoyable, although of course there’s no trace of Hitchcockian dazzle or depth. Depressingly, Caldicott has acquired an offscreen wife, which seems like an attempt to stave off any suggestion that these two devoted bachelors might have a thing for each other.

However — it does contain my favourite C&C moment outside of Hitchcock. Charters narrowly escapes assassination in the bathroom of the exotic Hotel Hamilton, as the door leads not to a plumbing facility but to a plunge into the Bosporus.

“It’s labeled ‘bathroom’,” he complains.

“But that’s ridiculous!” protests Caldicott. “It should be labeled ‘Bosporus.”

Naunton Wayne is good with bathrooms.

The Lady Vanishes – (The Criterion Collection)

One more intertitle on Sunday, and then we plunge headfirst into the darkness of For the Love of Film (Noir), The Film Preservation Blogathon, about which you can read more here, and an early sampling at David E’s Fablog.

12 Responses to “Bathroom Blunders of 1941”

  1. The biggest Bathroom Blunder of them all was yet to come. It was called Psycho

  2. Yes, that was quite a mess.

  3. David Boxwell Says:

    C & C share one pair of pajamas in TLV, but I can never remember who is, um, wears, WEARS, the top and who, the bottom.

  4. Christopher Says:

    I love their golf sequence in Dead of Night..very clever heh heh..

  5. Yeah, that story gets a lot of stick for being silly and distracting, but I don’t mind a little light relief between horrors. Incidentally, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a Dead of Night Film Club edition, and building up to it with various movies from Hamer, Dearden, Crichton and Cavalcanti…

  6. Hmmm. Kind Hearts an Coronets, Victim, A Fish Calles Wanda and Nicholas Nickelby.

  7. Off-topic, I know, but is that Patricia Roc gazing out of your header?

  8. Good choices, David E! Time I revisited Victim, and NickNick is maybe the only major Cavalcanti available that I haven’t written about already.

    Good question, Experimento. It’s actually Anita Louise in The Devil’s Mask (written about for The Forgotten http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/1311), recreating a shrink’s couch set-up from Cat People.

  9. Hitchcock apparently admired the staging of the confrontation scene with Sylvia.

  10. I think Millions Like Us is a slightly better film than Lady Vanishes (though when you are comparing two great films such as these, such distinctions become unimportant!), but Lady Vanishes is a better Charters and Caldicott vehicle. They’re not forced to carry an entire film, such as in Crook’s Tour, but are also not used more as talismans for the filmmakers but without much connection to the story, as in Millions.

    There doesn’t appear to be much from Millions Like Us (1943) on YouTube. Just this clip:

    Here’s Radford and Wayne as thinly veiled C & C characters called Bright and Early in It’s Not Cricket from 1949:

    And then there was that BBC TV series from the 1980s written by Keith Waterhouse (who wrote one of my favourite films, Billy Liar, but then went on to make me angry without fail for all of his deluded right wing hate pieces in the Daily Mail):

  11. It’s a really great confrontation scene: full-on and white-hot with long-buried passion flashing to the surface: “Because I WANTED him!”
    It’s pure melodrama but Dirk and Sylvia manage to give it a lot of shading. He’s marvelous as always, but she’s truly surprising. It’s as if her character were standing outside of her life and peering in.

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