1. Using specific examples, describe how Hitchcock opens The Lady Vanishes. What tone, mood, or atmosphere is Hitchcock establishing for the audience very early on in this picture? Pay particular attention to the music.
From the opening shots of The Lady Vanishes I get the feeling of both a light-hearted adventure will ensue (the tone accented by the musical accompaniment), married with a feeling of organized chaos or a madcap tone for the future of the film. This is demonstrated with the calm of the waiting crowd in the lobby, who look anxious as they await their fate. Then the multi-lingo announcements that an avalanche has caused their travels to be suspended for the evening, inviting a rush to register as guest at the hotel or find themselves without accommodations. This is further amplified by the rush to the front desk, while the clock on the wall chimes out the hour. I believe Hitchcock loves this motif abundantly, using chaos effectively to amuse (and perhaps befuddle the audience a bit) to keep them focused on what's to come. I personally feel this is the most entertaining of all the early Hitchcock films, especial those with sound.
2. Discuss the characters of Caldicott and Charters in this scene. What do the performances of Caldicott and Charters add to this scene.
This pair remind me of the modern-day equivalent of C3PO & R2-D2; the sort-of narrators of The Lady Vanishes discussing and bickering amongst themselves (mostly about the British Cricket scores), but also giving some quick assessment of background details to move the plot or scene along. They are the Laurel & Hardy comedy relief that moves the story along and keep us watching to see what will they do next. They are a highlight in an already bright and varied cast of characters who must shine a bit brighter to keep the focus on them for continuity sake. But they have their own moments of charm, first being boarded in the Maid's quarters. But being told the maid, who doesn't understand English, must be allowed access to her room to change her clothes or use her things. This causes embarrassment to the pair, who find her intrusions inappropriate and delight the viewer with the hijinks of the three interacting.
Then again at dinner, they muscle themselves into seats, only to find that there is no more food to be served this evening, which is all the more confusing as they do not speak the native language.
They also have a pivotal scene in the dinning car of the train; while trying to flesh out a complex cricket match using sugar cubes, they are forced to give up their visual aids to Ms. Froy, who is entertaining Iris with a pot of tea. This simple exchange becomes a plot point later on when Iris and (Redgraves' character) Gilbert try to logically assess the whereabouts of Ms. Froy, who's existence seems to be denied by everyone else, including the comic Englishmen, who choose to not get involved.
3. From their doorway entrance to their staircase exit, describe how Hitchcock uses dialogue, camera movement, and the placement of characters in the frame to establish Iris (Margaret Lockwood) as the star of this scene.
With the mass confusion of the last-minute guests of the hotel scrambling for rooms, the scene now focuses on the Desk Clerk, after mopping his brow with his handkerchief, essentially dropping everything to concentrate on the three woman entering the front door of the hotel. This slows the momentum to draw the camera to the ladies with a tighter shot of the four discussing the ladies events of the day, while they inquire about their rooms, with Iris in the center of the four-person group. The dialog remains quick and sharp, with little quips (eg. "...and nothing has changed. Including the sheets."), but the camera is now squarely focused on the small group crossing the room and ascending the staircase.