7.8/10
40,132
211 user 102 critic

The 39 Steps (1935)

Unrated | | Mystery, Thriller | 1 August 1935 (USA)
Trailer
1:28 | Trailer

Watch Now

Free at Internet Archive

WATCH NOW
ON DISC
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.

Director:

Writers:

(adapted from the novel by), (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,240 ( 4,053)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

While traveling in continental Europe, a rich young playgirl realizes that an elderly lady seems to have disappeared from the train.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas
Sabotage (1936)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A Scotland Yard undercover detective is on the trail of a saboteur who is part of a plot to set off a bomb in London. But when the detective's cover is blown, the plot begins to unravel.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, Desmond Tester
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A young woman discovers her visiting "Uncle Charlie" may not be the man he seems to be.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man and his wife receive a clue to an imminent assassination attempt, only to learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre
Notorious (1946)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie
Spellbound (1945)
Film-Noir | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov
Suspicion (1941)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke
Saboteur (1942)
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger
Action | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

On the eve of WWII, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall
Rebecca (1940)
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders
Secret Agent (1936)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

After three British agents are assigned to assassinate a mysterious German spy during World War I, two of them become ambivalent when their duty to the mission conflicts with their consciences.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Young
Edit

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
Edit

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:

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

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les 39 marches  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Gaumont was determined to crack the American market with this adventure, so the company invested heavily in it. This meant importing named stars like Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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

Referenced in Fractured Flickers: Rose Marie (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Russian Dance
(uncredited)
Arranged by Hubert Bath
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The film which launched Alfred Hitchcock's career
21 November 2004 | by (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) – See all my reviews

Film history was made in 1935 when Alfred Hitchcock, who was at the time an active but little known and somewhat run of the mill film director, received a contract to create a low budget potboiler type spy thriller, and used the opportunity to provide his studio with a masterpiece which has never been forgotten. In addition he established his reputation as the master of suspense, something which remained unchallenged throughout the remainder of his career. In style this film is quintessimal Hitchcock, and those who know his films can pick out sequences in any of his later ones which were based on, or inspired by, his work in this early thriller. Similarly, sequences from this film have also been imitated by many other directors - for example Richard Pearce, in the thriller "No Mercy" (1986), included sequences that imitated a famous sequence in Hitchcock's film where Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll were handcuffed together and on the run , by showing Richard Gere and Kim Basinger fleeing pursuers whilst handcuffed together. Because of this "The 39 Steps" has become a "must see" classic that most movie buffs still regard as an essential element in their personal film collection.

There are two criticisms commonly made of this film. The first is that there are logical imperfections in the story. This is true of almost all Hitchcock films (as well as those of most other directors). The point is that Hitchcock had an unsurpassed ability to maintain a flow in the unfolding of his story on the screen which totally distracts his audience from the type of mental agility required to even be aware of them. Only when dissecting the story on a sequence by sequence basis will such imperfections become significant. The second criticism is that this film, whilst based on John Buchan's novel of the same name, departs very considerably from the story in the book. I am not a purist about this, books and films are totally different media and must be judged independently. In some cases it must be recognised that a book is structured so that it is almost impossible for a film to remain true to the original book. What I do believe is important is that the film-goer should be entitled to know how true a film is to a previously read and perhaps long loved book. If a film is described as "the film of the best selling novel........", then it should be as accurate a dramatic presentation of the story in the book as possible. (Where the original is a play, not a book, the dramatic medium is already much closer to the movie form, and I believe such a description should only be used when most of the original dialogue from the play is accurately reproduced in the movie.) By contrast, if a film is described as "based on............" then the filmmaker should have considerably more freedom; and if the phrase used is "inspired by........" then a largely independent dramatic presentation should be expected. In the case of "The 39 Steps, Hichcock's film comes into the latter category, but a later (and in my opinion generally inferior) 1978 film of the same name can legitimately claim to be much more closely based on the book. In this instance I personally do not regard the original book as sufficiently important to be sacrosanct, but those who differ from me about this may feel they have an adequate reason for preferring the 1978 film.

Today "The 39 Steps" is seldom shown in movie theaters and, when a home video rather than the actual film is under consideration, attention needs to be given to the medium and technology with which it has been reproduced. The catch phrase "digitally remastered" is often used to reassure a purchaser that he is buying the best possible product, but this may be totally irrelevant. The nuances of shade in a good black and white photograph can often be artistically more significant than those of colour in a colour print, and the same is true for many early movies. But home video versions of black and white films are usually disappointing as these nuances are seldom reproduced accurately, if at all. It is regrettable that, largely because of this, many young people today have no appreciation of the artistic appeal a really good black and white movie film can have. Home video versions of "The 39 Steps" as both DVD's and videotapes have been released by a number of different distributors and these vary in quality enormously. In general DVD's are capable of better rendering of these subtle shade differences than videotapes, but either can be satisfactory. The first requirement is that the distributor has used a high quality master for the material copied, not an old tape that has already been played numerous times. The next is that proper equipment designed for copying from black and white masters is used. Too often copies of old black and white films are made with equipment that is designed only for copying colour films. In such cases the nuances of the multitude of grey shades present in the master are likely to be totally lost. Many of the copies of Hitchcock's film still being sold are particularly bad in this respect, with highlight areas that are totally burnt out instead of containing a mass of detail. The best advice is to consult a website such as that of Amazon.com, where the various versions available are listed and priced, with user comments that indicate how satisfactory the final product has been found by the purchaser concerned. My advice is DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE HAD - THIS WILL ONLY ENCOURAGE THE MARKETING OF SUB-STANDARD MATERIAL.


65 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Chucking pieces of ham on the floor?? Maureen5
OT: what modern film would you compare to The 39 steps Philds15
The differences between this movie and the book DoctorWhoFan
Annabella Smith & other observations mickeyone
did cars have white headlights at rear? walkinginrain
Discuss The 39 Steps (1935) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?