Jump to: navigation, search

The 39 Steps (1935) - trivia

Trivia for The 39 Steps (1935)...

Did You Know?

  • The budget for the film was just under £60,000, with was 50% higher than Hitchcock's previous film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll's salaries were around £8,000 and £5,000 respectively.[1]
  • The character or Mr. Memory was based on the real life William Bottle (stage name of "Datas"), a music hall memory man whose catchphrase was "Am I right, sir?"[2]
  • The film contains an early example of an autogiro plane, seen during the police chase across the rugged Scottish countryside following Hannay's escape from the crofter's cottage, approximately 37 minutes into the film. Although the autogiro in the film is clearly a model shown against a moving backdrop, it is an Arvo Cierva C-30A. The autogiro's serial number G-ACVC (the film segment was mirrored to make it seem the plane was flying left-to-right and towards Hannay) is genuine and was used for a C-30A registered in June 1934 and owned by Cierva Autogiro Co Ltd based in Hanworth, London. The autogyro's inclusion in the film may have been a last minute decision — when Hannay turns to look over his shoulder, he is looking down towards his pursuers below rather than up towards the sky.[3][4]
  • For the scene where a flock of a sheep block the villain's car and allow Hannay and Pamela to escape, around 60 sheep were brought onto the studio sound stage. Unfortunately, according to some sources, they immediately began eating the plants the crew had dressed the set with.
  • Michael Balcon's son has claimed that Hitchcock forced assistant director Penrose Tennyson to dress up in drag to be Carroll's stunt double for the scenes where Hannay drags Pamela across the Scottish moors. However, it is clearly Carroll that appears throughout the sequence in the final film.[5]
  • The music that the chorines dance to after Mr. Memory is shot is "Tinkle, Tinkle, Tinkle" written by Harry M. Woods. The tune had been made popular by the 1934 film Evergreen, starring Jessie Matthews and directed by Hitchcock's friend Victor Saville.[6]
  • Possibly to placate the British censors, the shooting script included a final scene set in a taxi where Donat explains to Carroll that, under Scottish law, they are technically married since they signed into the inn as man and wife. A publicity still exists and Donat mentioned in a letter to his family that the scene ended with him kissing Madeline Carroll.[7][8][9]
  • John Buchan's son William visited the set and, after expressing an interest in working in the movie business, was hired by Gaumont-British and worked as third assistant director to Hitchcock on Secret Agent,

Alternative Cast

  • British actress Jane Baxter was initially cast in the role of Pamela on a salary of £500. However, with an eye on the lucrative American market, it seems likely that she was replaced by Madeleine Carroll due to the latter's starring role in the US film The World Moves On (1934), directed by John Ford.[10][11]


  1. The 39 Steps: A British Film Guide (2003) by Mark Glancy, pages 28-29
  2. Hitchcock (1967) by François Truffaut, page 98
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cierva_C.30
  4. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/gy/reg_G-A5.html
  5. "Shepperton Babylon: The Lost Worlds of British Cinema" - by Matthew Sweet (2006), page 169
  6. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025094/soundtrack
  7. The 39 Steps (1935) - cut scenes
  8. The 39 Steps: A British Film Guide (2003) by Mark Glancy, pages 76-77
  9. The letter, dated 04/Dec/1935, is held in the Robert Donat Archive and is indexed as DON/88.
  10. The 39 Steps: A British Film Guide (2003) by Mark Glancy, page
  11. Film Weekly (1936) - My Screen Memories