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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Robert Donat suffered from an illness that would cause him to shake and tremble, meaning that the actor would often fight against having to do long takes. Nevertheless, the scene where he has to make an impromptu speech to a paying crowd shows that he was able to mask this ailment. See more »
The hand firing the pistol in the music hall (putatively Annabella's) is wearing a short gray leather glove with a distinct pebbled grain. In subsequent scenes, her gloves are black fabric. See more »
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 »
The Thirty Nine Steps is extraordinary in every conceivabe way. Anyone who doesn't mind slightly old, black-and-white movies will be enraptured by this Hitchcock classic, which was one of the first films to present sophisticated and witty banter between two ill-matched characters. What makes it even more extraordinary is that it virtually totally alters the source material (John Buchan's novel), yet still comes across as a work of ingenuity.
The story concerns Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) a handsome young man who owns a London flat. A mysterious woman comes to him for help, claiming that she is being hunted by some spies. Hannay helps her, but when she is murdered in his home it look like he is to blame, and he has to go on the run from the police (who obviously want him for the "crime") and the spies (who want him to find out how much he actually knows). En route, he has many adventures as he flees across the South Scotland landscapes, including being handcuffed to a woman (Madeline Carroll) who happens to think he is guilty of the murder.
This is splendid from the word "go". It has enough memorable set pieces for a dozen films, its pace is invigorating, the plot is constantly turning up new surprises, and the performances are just about perfect. Hitchcock spent his career narrating tale of innocent men on the run (indeed, many consider it to be his "favourite" theme) and this is one of the very finest examples of that. Anyone interested in Hitchcock or cinema of the '30s simply must, must, must see this film.
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