Sunday, September 1, 2013


'Masterpiece Mystery' aired a new version of "The Lady Vanishes", which is known as the penultimate film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in Britain before he took his talents to Tinseltown.

The young actress playing the lead was unknown to me, but she was quite good.  She captured the dual nature of Iris as she matured from a selfish spoiled rich girl to someone concerned for the safety of another as well as desperate to assert her own sanity.

And the supporting cast was rich with good character actors - Stephanie Cole ('Waiting For God' and 'Doc Martin'), Keeley Hawes ('MI-5' and 'Ashes To Ashes'), Selina Cadell (also 'Doc Martin'), Alex Jennings, Gemma Jones, Pip Torrens, and the man I was hoping would become the Time Lord, Julian Rhind-Tutt ('Keen Eddie' and 'Green Wing').

"The Lady Vanishes" began life in BookWorld, as the novel "The Wheel Spins" by Ethel Lina White.  After the 1938 version which starred Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, and Dame May Whitty, it also received a second incarnation in an alternate Cineverse dimension in 1979.  This version starred Elliot Gould, Cybill Shepherd, and Angela Lansbury and was a disappointment with the critics and at the box office.

But there are two supporting characters who are of most interest for the Toobworld Dynamic - cricket lovers Charters and Caldicott.  Played by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne in the original movie, they proved to be so popular that they showed up again in three more movies - "Night Train To Munich", "Crook's Tour", and "Millions Like Us".

In the 1979 remake, Charters and Caldicott were played by Arthur Lowe and Ian Carmichael.  Both have been great in other roles, but Radford and Wayne made too big an impression to overcome.

Without the framework of "The Lady Vanishes", Charters and Caldicott made their Toobworld debut in 1985 with a five part TV series that found the two now-retired gentlemen involved in mysteries.  (The whole series is available on YouTube and I plan to watch it over the coming days.)  Charters was played by Robin Bailey and Michael Aldridge took on the role of Caldicott.

Because they played the roles first, and because a TV series does carry more heft than a stand-alone TV movie, I went into watching this new adaptation of "The Lady Vanishes" expecting to banish it to some alternate dimension because Charters and Caldicott would probably be recast.

Well, bust my buttons!  The roles were recast... but they also underwent not only name changes but gender as well.  Charters and Caldicott's roles were now taken up by two spinster sisters named Evelyn and Rose Floodporter.  Like Charters and Caldicott, they lied about having seen the missing Miss Froy because they didn't want to be delayed in getting back to England - not for cricket but for a flower show in which they had entered their roses.

(There was a Rose Floodporter in the original movie, but I don't know what part she played in the affair.  I just watched the 1938 moviestreaming on Netflix but I must have missed her.....)

So for this ol' Toobmeister, that's s'wonderful news!  I can now keep both the 'Charters & Caldicott' TV series and the TV movie "The Lady Vanishes" in Earth Prime-Time together without fear of Zonks!

And as a final note, Charters and Caldicott have returned to BookWorld with a novelization based on the TV series.  So it has all come full circle.....


1 comment:

Peter S said...

The story of Charters and Caldicott doesn't end there. I have just written a book about the exploits of Charters and Caldicott in their first four films - The Lady Vanishes (1938), Night Train To Munich (1940), Crook's Tour (1941) and Millions Like Us (1943) - the same actors played the same characters in these films. My book is called Charters and Caldicott - As War Begins - written by Peter Storey

It is also available from the Charters and Caldicott website at