Review: ‘The 39 Steps’

Gaumont has a zippy, punchy, romantic melodrama in The 39 Steps. Story is by John Buchan. It's melodrama and at times far-fetched and improbable, but the story twists and spins artfully from one high-powered sequence to another while the entertainment holds like steel cable from start to finish.

Gaumont has a zippy, punchy, romantic melodrama in The 39 Steps. Story is by John Buchan. It’s melodrama and at times far-fetched and improbable, but the story twists and spins artfully from one high-powered sequence to another while the entertainment holds like steel cable from start to finish.

Story places a Canadian rancher (Robert Donat) in the centre of an English military secrets plot. He is simultaneously flying from a false accusation of murder and hunting down the leader of the spies, of whom he has learned from a lady who becomes a corpse early in the story. In the course of his wanderings through Scotland’s hills and moors he has a series of spectacular escapes and encounters.

It’s a creamy role for Donat and his performance, ranging from humor to horror, reveals acting ability behind that good-looking facade. Teamed with Madeleine Carroll, who enters the footage importantly only toward the latter quarter section of the film, the romance is given a light touch which nicely colors an international spy chase.

The 39 Steps

UK

Production

Gaumont-British. Director Alfred Hitchcock; Producer Michael Balcon; Screenplay Charles Bennett, Alma Reville, Ian Hay; Camera Bernard Knowles; Editor Derek Twist; Music Louis Levy (dir.); Art Director Oscar Werndorff, Albert Jullion

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Robert Donat Madeleine Carroll Godfrey Tearle Peggy Ashcroft Lucie Mannheim Wylie Watson
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading