The best known of Hitchcock’s British films, this civilized spy yarn follows the escapades of Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), who stumbles into a conspiracy that involves him in a hectic chase across the Scottish moors—a chase in which he is both the pursuer and the pursued. Adapted from John Buchan’s novel, this classic Hitchcock “wrong man” thriller encapsulates themes that anticipate the director’s biggest American films (especially North by Northwest), and is a standout among his early works. —The Criterion Collection
Alfred Hitchcock has been the most well-known director to the general public since the 1940s – and he remains so in the 21st century, more than 25 years after his death. His name evokes instant expectations on the part of audiences around the world: of a memorable night of movie-watching highlighted by at least two or three great chills (and a few more good ones), some striking black comedy, and an eccentric characterization or two in virtually every one of the director’s movies across a half-century – and usually laced with a comical cameo appearance by the director himself.
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born into a devoutly Catholic family in London, and his religious upbringing – with its attendant issues of guilt – would have a powerful influence on the psychological underpinnings of his later work. He was trained at a technical school, and initially gravitated to movies through art courses and advertising. He studied the work of other filmmakers, most notably the German expressionists… read more
"39 Steps" is the essence of cinema. Girl, gun, car, 'MacGuffin', waking dream (or in this case, nightmare)... This movie is the essence of Hitchcock. Hitchcock is cinema.
Hitchcock had been involved in making films for 17 years when he completed ‘The 39 Steps’, it coming in the middle of his golden era of British cinema and establishing him as an international success… read review
Great sense of humor. This has a lot of similarities to North by Northwest although it is one of Hitchcock’s earlier movies and so is still set in and around England. The English countryside and people… read review
I wrote a research paper discussing Hitchcock’s place in feminism with reference to this movie and The Lady Vanishes. This film is sexual and also reveals some social commentary about the role of women… read review