The Lady Vanishes, an early Hitchcock gem, gets the Criterion treatment with a fine two-disc release. Made in 1938, shortly before Hitchcock made his American debut with Rebecca, Lady is a light and breezy mystery with some deft touches that hint at Hitchcock’s later genius as the Master of Suspense.

Taking place almost entirely on a trans-European train ride, the film follows a young socialite and a roguish musician as they investigate the baffling disappearance of the girl’s companion, an elderly governess. No one on the train seems to have any clue as to where the woman could’ve disappeared to since the train has not made any stops.

Several passengers even deny that any such lady was ever on the train. Soon, the socialite’s sanity is called into question.

If it sounds familiar, you might remember the Jodie Foster homage, Flightplan from a couple years ago, just as you might remember the Rear Window homage, Disturbia, from earlier this year – then again, you might not. Ripping off Hitchcock has practically become its own genre in Hollywood.

All those two-bit imitations crowding the shelves at Blockbuster can threaten to obscure the greatness of the originals. Thank goodness for the folks at Criterion.

This beautiful double disc set features a newly restored high definition transfer. Extras include a commentary track by film historian Bruce Eder, audio excerpts from the legendary Truffaut/Hitchcock interviews, several essays on the Master and a stills gallery of promotional art and behind the scenes photos. Also included is Crook’s Tour, the 1941 feature-length spin-off, which features Lady’s scene-stealing sexually ambiguous comic relief team of Charters and Caldicott (available for the first time).

Grade: A

The Lady Vanishes is currently available.