THE 39 STEPS

Shh... if Hitch sees us, he'll treat us like cattle again! (1935)
With Robert Donat, Madeline Carroll, Godfrey Tearle, Lucie Mannheim
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

     Hitchcock's first variation on his favorite plotline (the plight of an innocent man wrongly accused of a crime) is also his first bona-fide masterpiece.  The director's long apprenticeship in silents and early talkies was marked by creativity and innovation, but his technique often called attention to itself at the expense of the narrative.  With THE 39 STEPS, Hitchcock demonstrated total mastery of the suspense form, his command as a filmmaker evincing much more assurance than the previous year's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (which itself was a huge leap forward).  Next to NORTH BY NORTHWEST some 24 years later, THE 39 STEPS was Hitchcock's most successful variation on his standard formula, with Robert Donat and Madeline Carroll second only to NORTH BY NORTHWEST's Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint as the quintessential oh-so-glib-and-attractive couple on the run, forced together by circumstances and destined to remain together after the fadeout. - JL

Hitchcock   The Stuff You Gotta Watch Home Page

Remakes

The 39 Steps (1959)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978)
The 39 Steps (2009?)

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