“The 39 Steps” (1935) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Robert Donat & Madeline Carroll / Z-View

The 39 Steps (1935)

Director:  Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Charles Bennett, Ian Hay based on THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS by John Buchan

Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll and Alfred Hitchcock.


The Plot…

Richard Hannay (Donat) is watching an act called Mr. Memory in a crowded London theater.  When a gunshot goes off in the crowd, the audience stampedes for the exits.  Hannay is surprised when a woman he doesn’t know says she’s frightened and asks to leave with him.  They end up in Hannay’s apartment where the woman claims to be a government agent.  She admits to firing the shots to escape enemy spies who had found her.  She claims to have information that is vital to the nation’s security.  Hannay isn’t sure what to believe.

Later that night the woman bursts into Hannay’s bedroom.  She has been stabbed.  As she dies she warns Hannay he needs to escape.  In her hand is a map with with a building named “Alt-na-Shellach” circled.  Soon Hannay finds himself on the run.  The police think he killed the woman and the enemy agents know he has information to bring them down.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Alfred Hitchcock claimed that The 39 Steps was one of his favorite movies that he directed.

Hitchcock’s cameo comes around the 7 minute mark.  He is the man walking by the bus who throws litter to the ground.

Richard Hannay shows ingenuity in escaping from his apartment (disguised as a milk man) and later at a political rally.

Hannay (Donat) and Pamela (Carroll) spend several scenes on the run while handcuffed to each other.  In a rehearsal Hitchcock had them handcuffed together for several hours since he had lost the key.  In reality, he hadn’t lost the key, but wanted them to get used to being joined by the cuffs.

The 39 Steps (1935) rates 5 of 5 stars.