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The 39 Steps (1935)

Not Rated | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 August 1935 (USA)
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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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Godfrey Tearle ...
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Mrs. Jordan
Frank Cellier ...
...
...
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 Most Charming Brute Who Ever Scorned A Lady See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les 39 marches  »

Box Office

Budget:

£60,000 (estimated)
 »

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

Madeleine Carroll only met Robert Donat on her first day of filming. See more »

Goofs

The "commercial traveler" played by Gus McNaughton who reads the newspaper article aloud on the train describes the woman who discovered the body as "charwoman Elizabeth Riggs," but when we see the article in closeup a moment later, that sentence states simply that "a cleaner" discovered the body. 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!
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Connections

Referenced in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Sweet By and By
(uncredited)
Music by Joseph P. Webster
Played by Salvation Army band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Espionage at the Music Hall
15 July 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock followed up his first international success, The Man Who Knew Too Much with an even better film, The Thirty Nine Steps. Hitchcock must have had a particular fondness for this film because I see elements of it North By Northwest, Saboteur, and Torn Curtain.

There is no director in the history of the cinema who liked a good chase film better than Alfred Hitchcock. This one's a beauty with a wrongly accused of murder Robert Donat, running from London to Scotland and back again to find some spies to clear his name. Along the way Donat picks up a lovely and first unwilling traveling companion in Madeleine Carroll who is arguably the first of his blonde heroines.

Donat and Ronald Colman rivaled for roles somewhat, they seem always to be cast as the same type of characters. Of course Donat worked primarily in the UK and on stage while Colman was strictly a movie actor since the silent days. Colman is the only other guy who could have done this and other Donat parts. It's a pity there are none like either of these guys around today.

When Geoffrey Tearle thinks he's disposed of Donat by shooting him, Donat's life got saved by a hymn book in his breast pocket. Whether that was a device in the original novel by John Buchan or something Alfred Hitchcock improvised the inspiration for it was definitely taken from the attempted assassination of former President Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. While running for president on the Progressive ticket that year, Roosevelt was shot in the chest in Milwaukee. What saved his life was a copy of his speech and an eyeglass case in his breast pocket.

The whole thing here is how the espionage is being carried out and I won't reveal it. But if you've seen Torn Curtain remember why Paul Newman was the only guy they could send on that espionage mission.

This is probably Hitchcock's best film from his pre-Hollywood period and shouldn't be missed.


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