The 39 Steps 1935
The 39 Steps is a fascinating early film from Alfred Hitchcock, made five years before he left Britain to begin making films in America. It's a loose, free-spirited thriller, ragged around the edges, sloppily plotted, and often unevenly paced, but the director turns it into a near-masterpiece almost in spite of itself. Its subject is pure Hitchcock, an early stab at the kind of "wrong man" thrillers that would soon become his most characteristic works.

Ordinary businessman Richard Hannay (a suavely charming Robert Donat) stumbles into an international espionage plot when he brings home a mysterious foreign woman (Lucie Mannheim) after a vaudeville-style show. She's wearing a black lace veil and speaks with a sinister accent, so of course she turns out to be a mercenary spy, working for the British government to prevent some military secrets from leaving the country in the hands of an enemy spy (Godfrey Tearle). The only thing she manages to tell Hannay before she's abruptly murdered in the middle of the night is that the spy ring's leader is missing the tip of his pinky finger, and that she had planned to meet a man in a certain town in Scotland next. Hannay, quite naturally suspected of his guest's murder, flees towards Scotland with both the police and the spies on his tail.


Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Peggy Ashcroft
Country: UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

BD50, DVD9 | 1080p AVC, NTSC 4:3 | 01:26:45 | 43.1 Gb + 7.59 Gb + 3% rec
Language: English
Subtitles: English

Extras:

Commentary - this is the same audio commentary with film scholar Marian Keane that was initially included on the Criterion DVD release of The 39 Steps, and later on the ITV Blu-ray release of the film. It is very informative and well done. The commentary was recorded in 1999 for Criterion.

Hitchcock: The Early Years - this documentary takes a close look at Alfred Hitchcock's British films. It features interviews with film historian Charles, author and crime historian John Kennedy Melling, and various actors who worked with the British director, as well as various archival clips from his early film. The documentary was produced for Carlton International Media in 2000. In English, not subtitled. (25 min, 1080i).

Cinema: Alfred Hitchcock - a compilation of original footage from a program made for British television in which producer and broadcaster Mike Scott interviewed Alfred Hitchcock. During the interview, the director discuses his 'German experience', the state of the film industry at the time when he was gaining recognition, the construction and themes of some of his early films, etc. The interview was conducted in 1966. In English, not subtitled. (41 min, 1080i).

The Borders of the Possible - scholar Leonard Leff discusses the adaptation of John Buchan's novel and Alfred Hitchcock's style. The visual essay features short extracts from the British director's interview with Francois Truffaut, clips from The 39 Steps, stills, etc. In English, not subtitled. (24 min, 1080p).

Production Design - production design sketches for The 39 Steps by art director O. Werndorff, who also art directed Alfred Hitchcock's Waltzes from Vienna, Sabotage, and Secret Agent. (1080p).

Hitchcock-Truffaut - excerpts from the legendary interview French director Francois Truffaut conducted with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962. In French and English, with a translator, not subtitled. (23 min, 1080p).

Lux Radio Theatre Presents The 39 Steps - a 1937 broadcast performed by Robert Montgomery and Ida Lupino. The Lux Radio Theater was first broadcast in 1934 and was a prestigious U.S. radio series sponsored bu Lever Brothers - the masker of Lux soap. It ran until 1955 and became one of the most popular dramatic radio programs in America. In 1936, the show moved from New York to Los Angeles and began to favor adaptations of films rather than plays. The Lux Radio Theater feature many of the biggest names in Hollywood in its extravagant productions. Orson Welles, Humphrey Bogart, Shirley Temple, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra would all appear. Legendary film director and showman Cecil B. DeMille hosted the show from 1936 until 1945. In English, Audio only. (60 min).

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