movie film review | chris tookey

Thirty-Nine Steps / Thirty- Nine Steps / The 39 Steps

Gaumont-British Picture Corporation Ltd. - all rights reserved
  Thirty-Nine Steps  / Thirty- Nine Steps  / The 39 Steps Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
9.58 /10
Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat, Lucie Mannheim
Full Cast >

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Charles Bennett, Alma Reville, Ian Hay from John Buchan's novel

Released: 1935
Origin: GB
Length: 85


A Canadian rancher (Robert Donat) on holiday in London becomes involved in espionage, and is suspected of murder.

Reviewed by Chris Tookey

Bookmark and Share

Generally hailed as one of the great thrillers - exciting, humorous and full of classic sequences - though on a recent viewing I was struck by the stiffness of some of the acting, the surprisingly slapdash editing and a few gaping holes in the plotting.
Several ideas which now seem old hat were here used for the first time - such as a woman's scream blending into the whistle of a locomotive. Hitchcock obviously delights in the last-minute escapes, the risque connotations of a man and a woman spending a night together in handcuffs, and the final set-piece at the London Palladium.
Donat and Carroll make the most of some cleverly written scenes, a few of which are little films in themselves. Because the political aspect of the espionage is left unclear, the story has dated far less than most other spy thrillers. There were remakes in 1959 and 1978; both are watchable, but the 1978 one is better directed, and the most faithful of all three versions to Buchan's original plot.
"I am out to give the public good, healthy, mental shake-ups. Civilization has become so screening and sheltering that we cannot experience sufficient thrills at first hand. Therefore, to prevent our becoming sluggish and jellified, we have to experience them artificially."
(Alfred Hitchcock, at the time of the film's release)

Key to Symbols