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 <email@example.com>
Opening credits: All the characters are entirely fictitious. See more »
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 »
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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A wonderfully entertaining thriller that has influenced dozens of subsequent movies since.
While I personally prefer Hitchcock's darker, more troubling movies, especially 'Vertigo' and 'Psycho', as far as his straightforward thrillers go 'The 39 Steps' is still one of his most entertaining. The man on the run because of false accusations or "knowing too much" motif may or may not have been invented here, but it certainly influenced dozens of subsequent thrillers, all the way up until contemporary movies like 'Enemy Of The State' and 'Minority Report'. Robert Donat makes a great hero, and Madeleine Carroll is charming and funny as his reluctant partner. The chemistry and repartee between the two is something that has been copied countless times since. Some people seem to regard 'The 39 Steps' as a practice run for Hitch's later 'North By Northwest', but I prefer the earlier movie. It may not be complex and deep, but it's great fun, and full of old fashioned movie magic. A classic thriller that is still wonderfully entertaining, and should prove to be enjoyable to almost everyone who watches it. Recommended.
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