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.
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.
Filled with lots of themes that would continue to haunt Hitchcock films to come, this is an easier film to digest when the second half comes around and the screwball elements come in. There are plenty memorable characters, especially women, and it plays out entertainingly enough.
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.
I wasn't really thrilled so I think it's not a good recommendation for a Hitchcock's film. And at some points it was extremely unreal. Still: a good experience and well-spent time. Great (and handsome) Robert Donat with Madeleine Carroll playing an awfully annoying woman (seriously, I wanted to punch her so badly).
Ottimo centro di Hitchcock,uno dei migliori del suo periodo inglese.Un ritmo grandioso,con un protagonista super-azzeccato e momenti costruiti alla grandissima(l'orazione alla convencion politica è fenomenale).Il finale poi è un capolavoro di montaggio in un set (quello teatrale) che è tipico di Sir Alfred.Ritmo,umorismo,azione:un film costruito davvero bene.4*
"WHAT ARE THE 39 STEPS?" This early film by Hitchcock gives me a whole new perspective on what I've seen of his later filmography, which seems to me attempts to recrystallize the elements brought together on this film. A consummate and perfect proto-noir with hints of Kafkaesque conspiratorial beats; a surprising favorite so far from this master.