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[video] Hitchcock - 39 Steps - 1935

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Hitchcock - 39 Steps - 1935


The 39 Steps is a 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on the adventure novel The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan. The film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.

There have been three major film versions of the book. Hitchcock's original has been the most acclaimed, and remains so today: In 1999 it came 4th in a BFI poll of British films,[1] while in 2004 Total Film named it the 21st greatest British movie of all time.


Canadian Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) is at a London music hall theatre, attending a demonstration of the remarkable powers of "Mr. Memory" (Wylie Watson), a man with a superlative memory, when shots are fired. In the ensuing panic, he finds himself holding a frightened Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim), who talks him into taking her back to his flat. There, she tells him that she is a spy, being chased by assassins out to kill her. She claims to have uncovered a plot to steal vital British military secrets, implemented by a man with the top joint missing from one of his fingers. She mentions the phrase "the thirty-nine steps," but does not explain its meaning.

That night, Smith is fatally stabbed with Hannay's bread knife, yet manages to warn him to flee. He sneaks out of the watched flat disguised as a milkman and takes a train to Scotland, where she had told him she was going to visit a man. He sees the police searching the train and learns from the newspapers that he is the target of a nationwide manhunt as a murder suspect. In desperation, he enters a compartment and kisses the sole occupant, the attractive Pamela (Carroll), in an attempt to escape detection. She however frees herself from his unwanted embrace and betrays him to the law. He jumps from the train onto the Forth Rail Bridge and escapes.

He stays the night with a poor older "crofter" or farmer (John Laurie) and his young wife (Peggy Ashcroft), who flirts with Hannay. The next morning, he leaves in the farmer's Sunday coat, and calls at the house the woman had told him of. There he finds the man with the missing finger-joint, the seemingly respectable Professor Jordan (Godfrey Tearle), who shoots him after a brief conversation and leaves him for dead. Luckily, the bullet fails to penetrate the farmer's prayer-book, left in a coat pocket, and Hannay flees once more.

He goes to the police, but they refuse to believe his story, since they know Jordan well. Hannay jumps through a window and escapes into the crowd. He tries to hide himself in a political meeting, but is mistaken for the introductory speaker; he gives a rousing impromptu speech (without knowing a thing about the candidate he is introducing), but is recognised by Pamela, who gives him up once more. He is handcuffed and taken away by "policemen". Hannay eventually realizes they are agents of the conspiracy when they bypass the nearest police station. When the car is stopped by a flock of sheep blocking the road, one of the henchmen handcuffs him to Pamela but he escapes, dragging an unwilling Pamela along.

They travel across country, and stay the night at an inn, the girl still not believing Hannay's story. While he sleeps, she slips out of the handcuffs, but then eavesdrops on one of the fake policemen on the telephone downstairs; the conversation confirms Hannay's assertions.

She returns to the room and sleeps on a sofa. Next morning, she tells him what she heard, and is sent to London to pass it on to the police. No secrets have been reported missing however, so they do nothing to help. Instead, they follow her to get to Hannay.

She leads them to Mr. Memory's show at the London Palladium, where the police close in on the fugitive. When the performer is introduced, Hannay recognizes his theme music - it's the annoyingly catchy tune he hasn't been able to forget for days. Hannay puts two and two together and realizes that Mr. Memory is how the spies are smuggling the secrets out: he has them memorized. As the police take him into custody, he shouts out a question- "What are the 39 Steps?" Mr. Memory compulsively begins to answer, saying that "The Thirty-Nine Steps is an organization of spies, collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of ...." But before he can finish, Jordan shoots him and tries to flee, but is apprehended. The dying Mr. Memory recites the information stored in his brain, a design for a silent aircraft engine. Hannay and the girl clasp hands (Hannay's still has handcuffs dangling from it).

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

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