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The 39 Steps (1935) Poster

(1935)

Trivia

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Before filming the scene where Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll run through the countryside, Alfred Hitchcock handcuffed them together and pretended for several hours to have lost the key in order to put them in the right frame of mind for such a situation.
According to one of his sons, John Buchan (upon whose 1915 novel the film was based) was impressed with the film, despite its departures from his original plot.
The 62 imported sheep, upon arriving at the sound stage, immediately went to work on the bracken and bushes that had been brought with them. The infuriated crew had to replace the real plants with ones hastily bought from a local nursery.
Madeleine Carroll suffered at the hands of Alfred Hitchcock's quest for realism, right down to the real welts on her wrists from the long days of being handcuffed to Robert Donat.
The bridge on which the train stops to search for Hannay (25 minutes from the start of the film), is the famous railway bridge over the river Firth of Forth, build from 1884 till 1889. It was then one of the most complicated works of engineering craftsmanship. It spans 2,5 km.
Alfred Hitchcock always regarded this as one of his favorite films.
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The scene at the farm, at 30:00 from the start, bears a striking resemblance to the first scene of the opera "Die Walküre" by Richard Wagner. Alfred Hitchcock must have seen the opera, because there are common elements to both scenes: the unhappy farmer's wife, the suspicious husband, the newcomer, the glimpsing over the table back and forth, the sexual tension.
Robert Donat suffered from an illness that would cause him to shake and tremble, meaning that the actor would often fight against having to do long takes. Nevertheless, the scene where he has to make an impromptu speech to a paying crowd shows that he was able to mask this ailment.
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In a 1985 interview, Peggy Ashcroft said, "My part took only four days to do . . . [Alfred Hitchcock was] enormous fun. One laughed a great deal with Hitchcock. I've been told by other people that he wasn't always kind. I found him very kind.
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The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
Madeleine Carroll only met Robert Donat on her first day of filming.
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This was Alfred Hitchcock's follow-up to his first international success, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). It proved to be just as successful, quickly establishing the director as a box office draw.
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Alfred Hitchcock's 22nd film.
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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.
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Visa de censure en France (1951): #11533/D.
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Though it follows the general outline of John Buchan's book and captures much of its spirit, this movie version often diverges from the printed one. In the book, the Robert Donat character has a South African background. Here, he's Canadian. The book has no female heroine. The Madeleine Carroll character was added to the movie to provide a romantic interest, apparently in hopes of making the story more appealing to female patrons. There are no scenes in a music hall in the book and thus no "Mr. Memory" character. The explanation this character gives for the term "39 Steps" is different from that provided in the book.
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The concept of fugitives being manacled together while they escape has been featured in many other films, notably Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones (1958), Fled (1996) and the Richard Gere-Kim Basinger starrer _No Mercy_.
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Director Cameo 

Alfred Hitchcock:  about seven minutes in, tossing some litter as Richard and Annabella run from the music hall.

Director Trademark 

Alfred Hitchcock:  [MacGuffin]  The secret McGuffin in The 39 Steps is retold by Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson).
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Alfred Hitchcock:  [Innocent man wrongly accused]  Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) is framed for the murder of Annabelle (Lucie Mannheim).
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Alfred Hitchcock:  [stairs]  Pamela listening to a conversation from the top of a staircase.
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