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Harrison's Reports (1935) - The 39 Steps




"The 39 Steps" with Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll

(Gaumont-British, Release date not set; time, 79 min.)

Very good entertainment. It is a combination murder mystery-spy melodrama, with fast melodramatic action, comedy and romance throughout ; it holds the attention well, keeping the spectator in suspense. The plot is worked out logically with a particularly ingenious ending in which the villain is trapped. The thrills are engendered by the many attempts the hero makes to escape from the police, who were trying to arrest him for a murder he had not committed. Besides being exciting these situations provoke comedy because of the means the hero uses to gain his freedom. Equally exciting and amusing are the situations in which the heroine is handcuffed to the hero and is forced to do his bidding. The production and acting are good:—

At a music hall where the hero is a spectator, a brawl starts when a shot is fired ; and in the excitement that follows, the hero finds himself accompanying a young woman from the theatre. She begs him to take her to his apartment. Once there she tells him that she is a spy, that an attempt was being made to kill her, and that there was danger of valuable government information being sent out of the country. During the night she is murdered and the hero realizes that in order to clear himself he must find out who was behind the plot. By following clues left by the murdered girl, the hero meets with many adventures, and is forced to dodge the police who were trying to arrest him for the girl's murder. During his adventures he becomes acquainted with the heroine, who innocently becomes involved with him. Eventually he proves his innocense and uncovers the plot of the international spies. The heroine, who at first had no faith in him, is in love with him by this time and accepts his marriage proposal.

The plot has been taken from the novel by John Buchan. The adaptation is by Charles Bennett and the direction by Alfred Hitchcock. In the cast are Godfrey Tearle, Helen Haye, Lucie Mannheim, Peggy Ashcroft, and others.

Because of the murder it is unsuitable for children or adolescents. It is very good adult entertainment.

Suitability, Class B.