25 Days of Hitchcock (A list of my favorites) Jun 11, 2010 23:08:08 GMT -5
Post by Mighty Jack on Jun 11, 2010 23:08:08 GMT -5
#6 The 39 Steps (1935)
A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and he stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring trying to steal top-secret information. (IMDB)
Robert Donat as Richard Hannay
Madeleine Carroll as Pamela
Lucie Mannheim as Annabella Smith
Godfrey Tearle as Professor Jordan
Peggy Ashcroft as Margaret, the crofter's wife
John Laurie as John, the crofter
Helen Haye as Mrs. Louisa Jordan, the professor's wife
Frank Cellier as Sheriff Watson
Wylie Watson as Mr. Memory
The grandfather of “North by Northwest”, this tightly woven spy story establishes many of the themes we’ll see in future Hitchcock tales. It is his first truly great film, the best of his early British era… and it is very British - More understated and urbane than his American films, it never the less shows the director in full stride.
Unflappable Robert Donat (Mr Chips) was a delight in the leading role. Madeline Carroll was Alfred’s first “cool blonde” and became an in demand star after this picture. And my lord, there's an 18 year old Peggy Ashcroft in a bit part. I've only known her as an old lady (She won an Oscar for "A Passage to India")
Memorable scenes: The closing sequence with Mr. Memory on stage and his dying explanation while Chorus girls dance in the background.
Memorable Quote: Robert Donat as Richard Hannay, shouts to Mr. Memory... "What are The 39 Steps?!"
Hitchcock Cameo: About 7 minutes in he’s the man tossing litter while the bus pulls up for Robert Donat and Lucie Mannheim to leave the theatre.
Of Note: Hitchcock told Truffaut... "The whole idea is that man is doomed by his sense of duty. Mr. Memory knows what the thirty-nine steps are, and when he is asked the question, he is compelled to give the answers. The schoolteacher in The Birds does for the same reason."