7.6/10
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254 user 116 critic

The 39 Steps (1935)

Not Rated | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 August 1935 (USA)
Trailer
1:29 | Trailer
A man in London tries to help a counter-espionage Agent. But when the Agent is killed, and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to save himself and stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Robert Donat ... Hannay
Madeleine Carroll ... Pamela
Lucie Mannheim ... Miss Smith
Godfrey Tearle ... Professor Jordan
Peggy Ashcroft ... Crofter's Wife
John Laurie ... Crofter
Helen Haye ... Mrs. Jordan
Frank Cellier ... The Sheriff
Wylie Watson ... Memory
Gus McNaughton ... Commercial Traveller (as Gus Mac Naughton)
Jerry Verno Jerry Verno ... Commercial Traveller
Peggy Simpson 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 agrees to hide her in his flat, but she is murdered during the night. Fearing that he could be accused of the murder, Hannay goes on the run to break the spy ring. Written by Claudio Sandrini <pulp99@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A hundred steps ahead of any picture this year See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to one of his sons, John Buchan, upon whose novel this movie was based, was impressed with this movie despite its departures from his original plot. See more »

Goofs

Hannay gets the train from London to Scotland, but the train on that journey is seen bursting out of Box Tunnel near Bath, which is nowhere near the line from London to Scotland. The locomotive changes from a London and North-Eastern one, with a prominent sign "Flying Scotsman" above the smoke-box door, to a Great Western one, with no "Flying Scotsman" sign. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Hannay: Stall, please.
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 Their Finest (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Sweet By and By
(uncredited)
Music by J.P. Webster (as Joseph P. Webster)
Played by Salvation Army band
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User Reviews

 
A Film That Successfully Does it All
26 February 2008 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

The 39 Steps is one of Hitchcock's most economical and greatest films. In this plot-heavy film, Richard Hannay - a young bachelor - experiences a series of very improbable events, starting with the murder of a mystery woman in his apartment by what he believes to be foreign agents and a picture perfect frame-up. Dogged by the police, Scotland Yard and jealous husbands, Hannay runs for his life. Catapulted from one humorous quasi-romantic encounter, plot twist, and narrow escape to another, our protagonist searches frantically for a way out and ends up with much more than he could have expected.

A lot of good intellectual analysis has been written here on IMDb and elsewhere about The 39 Steps. And the film deserves it. The 39 Steps is not only a great romantic adventure with the usual Hitchcock humor blended seamlessly into the mix, but it is also rich in allegory, metaphor and even subtle symbolism. Many of Hitchcock's typical themes appear throughout the film - marriage in its various forms, human relationships, and the many varieties and scales of deceit. But the purpose of this review is not to indulge in the meta-text of The 39 Steps, but rather, to discuss its entertainment value.

It is lovely to look at, but lacks much of the cinematographic experimentation and play of Hitchcock's earlier films. It is perfectly scripted - each character has a distinct personality and predicament, and they are all very believable and very well acted. The plot provides suspense, comedy, a powerful but unexaggerated analysis of belief, paranoia and propaganda. Suffice to say that the film can be seen from many perspectives and tends to hit its audience at many levels.

The camera work is more consistently focused on the story than many of Hitchcock's films, and the script offers a lot of activity jammed into a relatively short length. No time is wasted and the film zips by. Despite the lean and economical style, The 39 Steps is easily followed and doesn't require a great deal of thought or interpretation. However, as previously stated, the film can certainly inspire interpretive and critical thought if that's what you are looking for.

The 39 Steps is a gift, and never a burden. Highly recommended.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 August 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 39 Steps See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP50,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$51,711
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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