The 39 Steps (1935) – Alfred Hitchcock (Niall McArdle)

Perceptive and engaging discussion of an early Hitchcock classic

A World of Film

Summary: An innocent man is wanted for murder and drawn into a web of intrigue after foreign spies try to smuggle military secrets out of the country.

Spoilers, naturally, but really, you don’t watch a Hitchcock film for the plot (and the plot of The 39 Steps is rather silly and full of holes); rather you watch for the sheer verve with which it’s put together.

Annabella Smith: I had to get away from that theatre quickly; there were two men there who wanted to kill me.

Richard Hannay: Really, you should be more careful in choosing your gentlemen friends.

Something odd happened to Alfred Hitchcock in America. While his Hollywood films had bigger stars and were bigger successes than his early work, there is something bloated and self-indulgent about some of them, in stark contrast to the brisk and breezy English thrillers he made for Gaumont in the 1930s…

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