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The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978)

PG | | Thriller | 2 May 1980 (USA)
The year is 1914 and Richard Hannay, Mining Engineer who is visiting Britain for a short time before returning to South Africa, is shocked when one of his neighbours, Colonel Scudder, ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (novel)
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A remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

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Thriller

A contemporary setting of John Buchan's classic novel - Engineer Richard Hannay finds himself caught up with analyst Kate Maybury, as they race against the clock to save the country from the Thirty Nine Steps.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Appleton
Eric Porter ...
Lomas
...
Alex
...
Scudder
...
Sir Walter Bullivant
...
Bayliss
Donald Pickering ...
Marshall
...
Porton
...
David
...
Lord Rohan
Robert Flemyng ...
Magistrate
...
Harkness
Paul McDowell ...
McLean
...
Tillotson
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Storyline

The year is 1914 and Richard Hannay, Mining Engineer who is visiting Britain for a short time before returning to South Africa, is shocked when one of his neighbours, Colonel Scudder, bursts into his rooms one night and tells him a story that Prussian 'sleeper' agents are planning to pre-start World War I by murdering a visiting foreign minister. However, Scudder is murdered and Hannay is framed for the death by the 'sleepers'. Fleeing to Scotland Hannay attempts to clear his name and to stop the agents with the aid of Alex Mackenzie but not only is he is chased by Chief Supt Lomas for Scudder's death but by the agents who is headed by Appleton who has managed to hide himself in a high-placed position in the British Government... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A game of terror begins. The only clues... Are the victims. See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 May 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The 39 Steps  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final produced screenplay for a cinema movie [to date, June 2014] of writer Michael Robson. See more »

Goofs

At the health resort where Hannay is drugged by the Prussian agents, a concert is taking place. As the guests assemble, we see a poster advertising the concert, which gives the date as Wednesday, 13 March 1914. 13 March that year was a Friday. See more »

Quotes

Liberal Conference Audience Member: Why don't you stop asking questions and tell us something?
Hannay: Yes, I will tell you something. You're not awake! You wouldn't know if... if those two men who just walked in weren't German Sleeper Agents.
See more »

Connections

Version of The 39 Steps (2008) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

As good as and often better than the Hitchcock original.
17 February 2004 | by (Stroudsburg, PA) – See all my reviews

This 1978 version of "The 39 Steps" is an excellent film, well worth one's time. The film follows the John Buchan novel closely, except for its climax which, according to Halliwell, is taken from Will Hay's "My Learned Friend"; thus, there is little similarity in plot and characters between this film and the Hitchcock version. There are no handcuffed characters racing about (Thank God!) nor villains with truncated digits.

This film is well cast and performed throughout, with special mention of Robert Powell, John Mills, and David Warner. Made in color, it features beautiful scenery, especially the train trip to Scotland and Hannay's flight over the moors. It has fine period detail and costumes, the equal of anything in Merchant-Ivory films. And it has a lush, romantic score that swept me right along into the film.

The film does reference Hitchcock in a number of ways, most obviously in the plane search for Hannay, which recalls the plane attacking Cary Grant in "North by Northwest." And the climax that takes place on the face of Big Ben is exactly the sort of thing Hitchcock might have done, what with his fondness for using famous landmarks in his films.

The suspenseful climax is as good as anything Hitchcock ever did. But throughout, the film has good suspense. Hannay's escape from the train on the bridge here is better than the Hitchcock scene. And the terrorists' activities as shown here are very modern in that they are ruthless killers.

The people who were involved in making this film have nothing to apologize for. It's a fine film, and it's too bad that it has been overshadowed by the Hitchcock version. Don't miss this one.


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