Dark and humorous. The landscape shots are done to perfection and the ending hits you fast and unexpectedly. The dialogue is one of the driving elements of the film and it keeps the viewer gripped to the story. Short run time but a complete film none the less!
The 39 Steps comes back to that classic Hitchcock theme of throwing the everyday man in an absurd adventure - the cinematic equivalent of an idle day dream. The film itself is a little clunky, but still full of merit. There are some great technical elements; the seamless interior to exterior car shot or the clever scream/train horn cut. The cheeky comic tone, aced by Robert Donat, is a risque delight to enjoy.
There is some beautiful photography in this film and wonderfully atmospheric landscapes. There are also some technically rather impressive shots - how about the moment when the camera suddenly circles around the back of the car and it drives off into the distance? Never seen anything like that in a film of the period. Some interesting stuff about marriage and freedom -see Donat's speech. Beautiful, magical. memorable
More interesting for how it anticipates his mature work than for the intrinsic merits of the film itself. There are some fine aspects: the dark mood of the first half, the psychological use of the sublime landscape of the moors, the risqué eroticism of the stockings scene and the chemistry between our heroes; but it's also pretty clunky, tonally unsure of itself and lacking in polish. Very enjoyable though.
Brilliantly economical, perfectly paced, and totally entertaining. Maybe my favorite Hitchcock to watch; it has a memorable moodiness that makes it totally unique. Donat is my favorite Hitchcock hero, with a combination of humor, grace, and self-effacing wit that outdoes both Grant and Stewart for me. Peggy Ashcroft is absolutely superb in a small early role that's a pleasantly profound surprise in this context.