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The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)

PG | | Crime, History, Mystery | 2 May 1980 (USA)
In March 1914, a mining engineer named Richard Hannay tries to prevent Prussian Agents from executing a political assassination designed to trigger World War I.

Director:

Don Sharp

Writers:

Michael Robson (screenplay), John Buchan (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Powell ... Hannay
David Warner ... Sir Edmund Appleton
Eric Porter ... Lomas
Karen Dotrice ... Alex
John Mills ... Scudder
George Baker ... Sir Walter Bullivant
Ronald Pickup ... Bayliss
Donald Pickering ... Marshall
Timothy West ... Porton
Miles Anderson ... David
Andrew Keir ... Lord Rohan
Robert Flemyng ... Magistrate
William Squire ... Harkness
Paul McDowell Paul McDowell ... McLean
David Collings ... Tillotson
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Storyline

The year is 1914, and Richard Hannay (Robert Powell), a mining engineer who is visiting Britain for a short time before returning to South Africa, is shocked when one of his neighbors, Colonel Scudder (Sir John Mills), bursts into his room one night and tells him a story that Prussian sleeper Agents are planning to 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 (Karen Dotrice), but not only is he is chased by Chief Superintendent Lomas (Eric Porter) for Scudder's death, but by the agents, who are headed by Appleton (David Warner), who has managed to hide himself in a high-placed position in the British Government.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lord Tweedsmuir, son of "The 39 Steps" source author John Buchan, according to Producer Greg Smith, liked the movie, was glad that the adaptation utilized more content from his father's source novel, and felt that his dad would have liked the added-on ending with the Big Ben clocktower. 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 »

Crazy Credits

The Rank logo is silent. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's Up Doc?: Episode #2.8 (1993) See more »

User Reviews

 
Not the story as written
2 March 2011 | by hgregor-991-286108See all my reviews

R Houghton's review claims that "...with this version, we finally get the story as it was written."

This is a very long way from true. To note only three departures, the thirty-nine steps of the original text do not refer to the steps leading up to Beg Ben, but to a staircase leading from a house in Bradgate down to the sea; in the original text, Scudder is knifed in Hannay's flat; and the scene of Hannay clinging to the hands of the clock appears nowhere in Buchan's novel.

But all that said, this production is a fine piece of work in its own right, having great pace, style and atmosphere, and with some first-class acting from Robert Powell.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 May 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The 39 Steps See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP1,500,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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