The 39 Steps

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: John Buchan, Charles Bennett
Producer: Michael Balcon, Ivor Montagu
Theatrical: 1935
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Gaumont British Picture Corporation
Genre: Mystery
Duration: 86
Media: Digital
Collection ID: 1194
DVD Details
Languages: English
Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Picture Format: Academy Ratio
Region: 1
Release:May 2003
Price: $124.95
Richard Hannay/Mr. Hammond/Capt. Fraser/Henry Hopkinson
Robert Donat
Pamela/Mrs. Henry Hopkinson
Madeleine Carroll
Miss Annabella Smith
Lucie Mannheim
Professor Jordan
Godfrey Tearle
Margaret, crofter's wife
Peggy Ashcroft
John, crofter
John Laurie
Mrs. Louisa Jordan
Helen Haye
Sheriff Watson
Frank Cellier
Mr. Memory
Wylie Watson
Commercial Traveller on Flying Scotsman (as Gus MacNaughton)
Gus McNaughton
Commercial Traveller on Flying Scotsman
Jerry Verno
Peggy Simpson
Palladium Manager
Miles Malleson
The Milkman
Frederick Piper
This tremendously entertaining spy film from director Alfred Hitchcock's British period set the standard for all man-on-the-run films. Based on John Buchan's novel of an innocent Canadian tourist in Britain thrust unexpectedly into the world of spies, it's hard to find a better one than this.

Robert Donat is the Canadian, Richard Hanney, who gets more than he's bargained for when a woman named Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim) in fear for her life is killed in his flat after revealing to Hanney that she is a Secret Agent protecting the secrets of her country from a dangerous network of spies known only as the 39 Steps.

With a murder charge hanging over his head he must heed her words and make his way to Scotland and get to the bottom of the 39 Steps in order to clear his name. But when a misguided guess leads him right into the hands of the dangerous head of the network, Professor Gordon (Godfrey Tearle), the hunter now becomes the hunted.

He is helped along the way by a few kind souls who believe in his innocence. Peggy Ashcroft is memorable as a lonely farmer's wife who risks everything to help him escape. A kiss given by Hanney for her kindness is a poignant moment in a film both enjoyable and exciting. When he and a much more reluctant young woman named Pamela (Madeleine Carroll) are hancuffed together there is a shift in the film's tone as romance enters into the story.

The classy Carroll was a perfect match for Donat and the back and forth between the two is still enjoyable today. Sneaking off into the night while he is sleeping she overhears the men after him and comes back to help him, finally believing his colorful story of murder and spies. A tune stuck in Hanney's head will finally lead him to the "Memory Man" and a grand finale.

This is most definitely a film classic. Another good screenplay from Charles Bennet and good work from photographer Bernard Knowles, who always made the most of the sometimes meager budgets given he and Hitchcock in Britain, enhance a story with both tension and a dash of romance. A must see film.