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The 39 Steps (1935)

Unrated | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 August 1935 (USA)
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A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

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(adapted from the novel by), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Godfrey Tearle ...
...
...
Helen Haye ...
Mrs. Jordan
Frank Cellier ...
The Sheriff
...
Gus McNaughton ...
Commercial Traveller (as Gus Mac Naughton)
Jerry Verno ...
Commercial Traveller
Peggy Simpson ...
Maid
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Storyline

Richard Hannay is a Canadian visitor to London. At the end of "Mr Memory"'s show in a music hall, he meets Annabella Smith who is running away from secret agents. He accepts to hide her in his flat, but in the night she is murdered. Fearing he could be accused on the girl's murder, Hannay goes on the run to break the spy ring. Written by Claudio Sandrini <pulp99@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The "Monte Cristo" hero... See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les 39 marches  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic Film Full Range Recording System: at Shepherd's Bush London)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfred Hitchcock: [MacGuffin] The secret McGuffin in The 39 Steps is retold by Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson). See more »

Goofs

Mr. Memory stops speaking and flinches before the shot is fired. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Music hall announcer: Ladies and Gentleman, with your kind attention, and permission, I have the honor of presenting to you one of the most remarkable men in the world.
Heckler in Audience: How remarkable? He's sweating!
See more »

Connections

Remade as Chakravyuha (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Is a Song
(uncredited)
Written by Ray Noble and Max Kester
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Great Combo of Suspense and Humor
6 February 2005 | by (Kentucky) – See all my reviews

Most people associate Hitchcock with suspense but he was also a master of dark comedy. "The 39 Steps" illustrates his ability to blend the two genres into a movie that works well on both levels. If he had turned up the comedy a tiny bit it would be just as hilarious as the best 1930's screwball comedies like "Bringing Up Baby" and "The Awful Truth". Imagine Katherine Hepburn handcuffed to Robert Donat as they wander the Scottish moors. But the chemistry between Madeleine Carroll and Donat is too good to replace her.

Hitchcock cast a great ensemble for "The 39 Steps". Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Teale and John Laurie are outstanding. The supporting cast are all excellent. Yet in the midst of all this it is Peggy Ashcroft who absolutely shines.

Donat's misadventures while "on-the-run" from the law are the original "series of unfortunate events". It seems that he just can't go anywhere without being identified and chased. Hitchcock's technique is to lull you into thinking it will be an ordinary scene and then to casually throw something menacing into the scene, so the viewer can never relax. These are like getting a slap in the face before you have a chance to set yourself up for the blow. By comparison with the sinister delicacy and urbane understatement of "The Thirty-nine Steps," modern melodramas are obvious and crude.

There are many cool things to watch for:

CAMEO-As Donat and Mannheim board a bus early in the film, director Hitchcock makes his customary cameo appearance as a passer-by who tosses litter onto the sidewalk.

MATCH CUT-One of the most revolutionary edits in cinema history is in here; after the maid finds Lucie's body her scream dissolves into the hissing of a train whistle.

MISE EN SCENE-If you ever wandered what this was ("putting-in-the-scene" is a single shot sequence without cuts to another camera or transition to another scene), Hitchcock's closing shot is probably the all-time best example. As Donat, Carroll, and the police gather backstage around the dying Mr. Memory, on-stage behind them (visible from the wings) and performing for the Palladium audience is a chorus-line of girls high-kicking to the tune of Tinkle, Tinkle, Tinkle from the film Evergreen (1934). After Mr. Memory confirms the espionage plot, the camera angle changes slightly and Donat and Carroll fill the frame facing away from the camera. Donat still has the handcuffs dangling from his wrist. They spontaneously join hands - this time of their own free will.. The film fades to black.


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