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The 39 Steps (1959)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 13 March 1959 (UK)
In London, a diplomat accidentally becomes involved in the death of a British agent who's after a spy ring that covets British military secrets.

Director:

Ralph Thomas

Writers:

Frank Harvey (screenplay), John Buchan (based upon the novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kenneth More ... Richard Hannay
Taina Elg ... Fisher
Brenda de Banzie ... Nellie Lumsden (as Brenda De Banzie)
Barry Jones ... Professor Logan
Reginald Beckwith Reginald Beckwith ... Lumsden
Faith Brook ... Nannie
Michael Goodliffe ... Brown
James Hayter ... Mr. Memory
Duncan Lamont ... Kennedy
Jameson Clark Jameson Clark ... McDougal
Andrew Cruickshank Andrew Cruickshank ... Sheriff (as Andrew Cruikshank)
Leslie Dwyer Leslie Dwyer ... Milkman
Betty Henderson Betty Henderson ... Mrs. McDougal
Joan Hickson ... Miss Dobson
Sidney James ... Perce
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Storyline

Richard Hannay witnesses a hit-and-run involving a woman pushing a pram. Looking in the pram he sees a gun instead of a baby. He tracks the woman down and she reveals that she is a secret agent trying to stop foreign spies leaving the country with important military secrets. Later that night she is murdered in Hannay's flat. Hannay takes it on himself to thwart the enemy agents. This involves travelling to Scotland and keeping one step ahead of the police who are looking for him in connection with the murder of the woman. Written by ledostef, blackpool

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Suspenseful Manhunt in History!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

13 March 1959 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

39 escalones See more »

Filming Locations:

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Rank Organisation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Peter Vaughan. See more »

Goofs

The copyright year in Roman numerals displayed near the beginning of the titles is malformed. If the correct copyright year is '1959' then the correct Roman numeral would be: 'MCMLIX'. However, the displayed Roman numeral is 'MCMLVIX' which is nonsensical. The displayed number would be: '1950+5+9' if it were valid. It is surmised that the designer thought '50' and added a '5'. See more »

Quotes

Kennedy: [Staking out Hannay's flat] Have you ever tried suckling pig?
Brown: No.
Kennedy: Tender as a baby.
Brown: Haven't tried that either.
See more »

Connections

Version of The 39 Steps (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than it's often given credit for
28 December 2002 | by ADAM-53See all my reviews

Often criticised for being a shot-for-shot remake of the Hitchcock original, this film is in fact a perky little thriller which benefits from Kenneth More being a more sympathetic leading man than Robert Donat (he was somewhat aloof) in the '39 version. True, the film trades heavily off the script for the Hitchcock version, and true it does not go back to the original novel for context, spirit or historical setting in the way the '78 version does; but for me, the film is the jewel among the three. As well as a pacy and fun thriller, it catches the spirit of the England and Scotland of the time. It is also interesting to note the role of the two hit-men characters; they are shadowy background figures in the '39 version, but here they are more fully flushed out (and well played by Duncan Lamont and Michael Goodlife). In the '78 version (and the unofficial remake called North By Northwest) the role of the hit-men is further developed and the suspense increased as a result.

Other things to watch out for in the '59 version are Sidney James, Brian Oulton and a host of supporting players (not to mention Tania Elg's legs in the remake of the stocking-removing scene, all the more intriguing for being in colour). Long available on VHS in the UK, this film now sadly seems to be deleted and is much missed.


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