The 39 Steps (1935)

DailyView: Day 249, Movie 349

I love Alfred Hitchcock. One of the goals I wanted to set for the DailyView was to get around to some of the Hitchcock films that I have not seen. Unfortunately, I have not done this much. However, I have added to the list a series of films by the Master of Suspense from the late 1920s and early 1930s that I want to tackle over the next few weeks. The first one tonight happened to be conveniently on HBO Max. It was titled The 39 steps.

The 39 Steps was an organization of spies trying to smuggle vitally important information out of England. Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) found himself caught up in the plot, and accused of murdering a female counter-espionage agent by stabbing her in the back. Hannay went on the run to Scotland hoping to find someone to help and, instead, stumbling right into the door of the assassin himself, Professor Jordon (Godfrey Tearle).

He wound up with an attractive woman, Pamela (Madeleine Carroll), who unwillingly had to join him in his attempt to prove his innocence.

This is a fun, at times funny and romantic, thriller which has been dubbed a classic by many iconic filmmakers. It is a time of simpler filmmaking, where mood is created more with dialogue and the lighting than CGI. The characters bring the intensity to their performances with their reactions and their words as much as with their actions.

Robert Donat is very charming and brings an energy to the accused man. He is just trying to find a way to convince people that he was innocent, even though it seemed everyone that he tells does not believe him. There is an easy chemistry between him and Madeleine Carroll too, as they make a strong pairing.

I am looking forward to a further exploration into Hitchcock’s oeuvre.

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