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The 39 Steps (2008)

Richard Hannay, a mining engineer on holiday from the African colonies, finds London socialite life terribly dull. Yet it's more than he bargained for when secret agent, Scudder, bursts ... See full summary »

Director:

James Hawes

Writers:

John Buchan (novel), Lizzie Mickery (screenplay)
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rupert Penry-Jones ... Richard Hannay
Lydia Leonard ... Victoria Sinclair
David Haig ... Sir George Sinclair
Patrick Malahide ... Professor Fisher
Patrick Kennedy ... Hellory Sinclair
Eddie Marsan ... Scudder
Alex Jennings ... Captain Kell
Steven Elder ... Vicar / Wakeham
Werner Daehn ... Ackerman
Peter Stark Peter Stark ... Engel
Del Synnott Del Synnott ... London Constable
Roger De Courcey Roger De Courcey ... Ventriloquist
David Gallacher David Gallacher ... Professor's Butler
James Bryce James Bryce ... Concierge at Club
Stewart Preston Stewart Preston ... Waiter at Club
Learn more

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Storyline

Richard Hannay, a mining engineer on holiday from the African colonies, finds London socialite life terribly dull. Yet it's more than he bargained for when secret agent, Scudder, bursts into his room and entrusts him a coded notebook with map, concerning the impending start of World War I. In no time both German agents and the British law are chasing him, ruthlessly coveting the Roman numerals code, which Hannay believes he must crack himself. Masquerading as a liberal party pundit, Richard also gets stuck with parliamentary candidate Sir George Sinclair's sister Victoria. They must survive with the secrets and decide who they can trust and how to keep it from others. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The ventriloquist on the train who helps Hannay to avoid the police, is Roger De Courcey a well known British performer, who used to appear with a teddy bear named 'Nookie Bear'. See more »

Goofs

Captain Kell refers to his colleague as "Leftenant Commander". The Royal Navy at that time pronounced "Lieutenant" as "L'tenant". See more »

Quotes

Richard Hannay: Well at least you're only a spy and not a suffragette.
Victoria Sinclair: Well, actually I'm a spy /and/ a suffragette.
Richard Hannay: Oh Lord!
See more »

Connections

Version of The 39 Steps (1935) See more »

User Reviews

OK but still unremarkable and totally in the shadow of Hitchcock
23 January 2009 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

It will not shock anyone to learn that, having watched this 2008 TVM, I'm not proposing that we just burn Hitchcock's version on the basis that we no longer have any need for it. However neither will I add my voice to those queuing up to tell you how awful this film is. The truth may be closer to the latter extreme than the former but this is not a terrible film, just quite an OK one that suffers badly by comparison by how well it has formerly been done. The plot is not completely the same and there are some key changes even if the overall flow is the same but, for some reason the changes that have been made are overwhelmingly negatively impacting. The most famous set pieces are gone and have been replaced by, well, not much. Perhaps they were looking to shake off the shadow of Hitchcock's film you say? Well if that is the case why make room for a clunky North by Northwest reference then?

It is all very solid stuff despite this and it is perhaps good enough to satisfy as a festive piece of easy entertainment thrown to viewers too sleepy or bloated to really cope with much more. However, outside of this home-court advantage the weaknesses are much clearer and the plot does feel too slow and unengaging. It closely follows the original film version but without anywhere near the same impact or sense of thrill or adventure. I never particularly cared about what was happening or was going to happen as it went along – nor indeed felt a lot in the way of urgency or menace. These are key things to deliver but they are lacking and, as a result, so is the film. I do often defend the idea of the BBC licence fee (and continue to do so) but it is hard to see the justification or remaking something without having anything of value to really bring to it – the rights to the original film must be cheaper to get and the difference could be used to make something original or more daring (accepting that it may fail). As it is, this BBC production is an example of them not delivering.

The cast are reasonable and thus fit with the overall film being "OK". Penry-Jones is strapping but bland and his character isn't consistent or believable across the film. Leonard is the same as the narrative changes her but she didn't have me believing it very often. Malahide isn't a good villain. He has the potential for menace but he has nothing about him to convey it and no spark to make him stand out. Marsan is a nice find in a small role early on but is soon out of the picture a required by the film. The direction matches the general production values by being solid and sturdy but never spectacular.

The whole thing is what you hope it isn't going to be – average. It isn't awful and it does provide a base level of entertainment if that is all you are looking for but I imagine that, like me, many viewers will find little of note about it and wonder why they or the BBC bothered.


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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

28 December 2008 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

39 Lépcsőfok See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
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