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Lancashire Evening Post (27/Dec/1935) - Another Triumph for Alfred Hitchcock



Another Triumph for Alfred Hitchcock

Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in Spy Triller

Hitchcock Again

Note, first, that Alfred Hitchcock directed it.

Hitchcock is a Londoner — the son of an Essex shopkeeper — and the highest-paid director in British films. He deserves whatever they pay him, for he is by way of being a film-making genius.

Ivor Novello's film, "The Lodger," followed by "Blackmail," showed that he was no ordinary director. Then he made "The Skin Game," from Galsworthy's play, and "The Case of Lady Camber."

In those days he was a highly-prized member of the B.I.P. studios at Elstree, but fame did not come to him until he directed the spy story, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," for Gaumont-British. Then we saw that he has a flair for thinking "in sound" as well as in terms of acting and camera technique.

It is well that the public should know Hitchcock and men like him, and estimate the quality of a film from the name of the director as much as from the stars who entertain them.

Hitchcock is a director to whom the most simple things are dramatically significant; he has assimilated much of the German technique in film-making, and because he " thinks in pictures" is able to communicate a sense of realism to the spectator, realism that excites.


As a story, John Buchan's "The Thirty-nine Steps" was vivid and imaginative, and it has lost none of its grip in the cunning hands of its director. It tells of a young man entangled in a spy intrigue concerning vital secrets of the British Air Force.

Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll help to make it irresistible entertainment. They are whirled through adventures which pause only long enough to let you enjoy the comic interludes, and the hero's moments of romance and contemplation with Peggy Ashcroft and Miss Carroll.

Madeleine Carroll, one of our loveliest artists, is one of those film stars who unfortunately acquired a reputation for beauty first and acting afterwards, which explains why she has been a victim of so much miscasting.

She is, of course, an excellent actress, as she proved in "The W Plan," "I Was a Spy" and "The Dictator." In the film under review it is obvious again why this cultured Birmingham girl remains our most popular dramatic star after several years of indifferent films relieved by those I have mentioned.

Robert Donat, who may be described as the Ronald Colman of British pictures, exerts his art and personality effectively but without excess in a lady-killing type of role which will inevitably strengthen his popularity.

Donat is a Manchester man who spent several years from 1921 touring in the provinces. Alexander Korda's choice of him to play Culpepper in "Henry VIII." gave him his chance, and the important role of Dantes in "Count of Monte Cristo" brought him fame.