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United Kingdom 1935
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
87 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

39 Steps, The (1935)

One of the best, if not the best, of Hitchcock’s British films, The 39 Steps was an enormous success in its day, audiences captivated by the exciting plot and the film’s racy, irreverent style, particularly evident in the relationship between Madeleine Carroll and Robert Donat.  Donat as Richard Hannay is credited the first fully-achieved instance of the typical Hitchcock “wrong man” protagonist. Donat plays a Canadian on vacation in England who gets involved with a female spy (Lucie Mannheim) who is murdered in his apartment. He’s accused of the murder but escapes and needs to clear his name which he does eventually with the help of a woman (Carroll) he meets while on the run.

Building on the success of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps is a more polished film, with a more developed plot and characters and less studio-bound. It is also, once again, superior to its subsequent remakes (in 1959 and 1978).

DVD Extras: All-new transfer from the restored print; Audio commentary by Dr Wendy Haslem, University of Melbourne; On Location, a featurette with Robert Powell, star of the 1978 version; The complete 1937 broadcast of the Lux Radio Theatre adaptation performed by Robert Montgomery and Ida Lupino; The 39 Steps: Hitchcock and Others, an insert essay by Brian McFarlane.

Available from: Madman




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