A chance meeting with a female spy on the run from assassins sends Richard Hannay deep into a government conspiracy. When he is accused of her murder, he must go on the run in search of the real culprits in order to clear his name.
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Why is this always neglected while POS like Rope and Psycho are lauded. Probably Hitchcock's best use of comedy is in this film and he brilliantly uses it to invite us in this adventure. After all, if you were stuck in such an over-the-top conspiracy, how could not make fun of the absurdity. In short, the character's ironic statements help make this believable. Stop re-watching his bad crap and watch this good crap.
The more I see of Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood work the more I love him, as if I didn't enough already. The first half is gorgeously dark (just like Miss Smith) and every bit as ominous as Hitchcock's later works such as Notorious. The second half turns lightens things up with some screwball comedy elements (I would love to have seen Donat and Carroll in a straight comedy) and wraps up with a great finale. Great stuff.
one of those overrated films that people who don't really know american classic cinema history elect as a masterpiece. the story is superficial and boring (how many times does the hero have to escape so the audience understands he is the hero??) and, in the end, unrewarding. there are no actual characters, just figures in a boring plot, saved from total wreck by ocasional but unsufficient flashes of direction.
What I liked: The scene with the handcuffs and its sexual implications, the scene between Robert Donat and Lucie Mannheim in the apartment, the rythm of the film, the scene in Crofter's house.
What is, according to me, outdated : the chase in the moors.
Highly recommended, though.
The 39 Steps is a masterpiece & seems to be a blueprint for the modern thriller. About a man who is wrongly accused of murder & is swept into an espionage conspiracy (low-key about Nazis infiltrating British government), Hitchcock's film is so influential that one can see how it created an entire genre & shaped the rest of his career.