the 39 steps

May 13, 2008

a hitchcock film without suspense?

i just kept watching the film going…”that’s just ridiculous”. i mean the way that hannay gets out of trouble each time is so unbelievable that the film removes any sense of suspense because you know there’s no way that he’s ever going to be in any real danger. some really odd canted angles, some just awkward performance moments [i’m thinking specifically when the first spy dies and when the girl hannay gets handcuffed to is falling asleep. i mean no one rolls their head down and up then down and up when they’re falling asleep!] keep this film from reaching “major”-hitchcock status. i did like the lead performance of richard hannay by robert donat. he had some truly hilarious moments and had pretty good chemistry with madeleine carroll.

let’s put aside the fact that i don’t buy any of the character motivations, the fact that hannay is able to escape from any situation and that the people chasing him fail to search the first places i would be checking if i was the chaser makes the film loose a lot of credibility. though how much blame should be placed on hitchcock or the screenwriter is up for grabs.

you can see hitchcock’s marks on the film. his patented wrong man thriller, the maguffin, it’s all there. it just doesn’t amount to the same amount of greatness of his later films. i don’t want to seem like i’m just hating on the film because i did enjoy it enough to recommend, it just seems easier to point out faults then compliment. the fact is, i’m a huge hitchcock fan, so there was enough here to interest me and hold my attention and make it an enjoyable experience


4 Responses to “the 39 steps”

  1. Holden Caulfield Says:

    I absolutely hated the 39 Steps. I had a mission to watch all the Hitchcock movies that he ever made after watching Psycho, Vertigo, North by Northwest but watching this really runined it. The 39 steps bored me to death and I realized that Hitchcock earlier films are not worth watching because there black and white, made in Britain, and just plain hard to watch its no North by Northwest.

  2. johnheberle Says:

    i don’t think that the fact that they’re black and white is reason to not watch them. i loved loved loved strangers on a train.

  3. Agree with everything you said, I still liked The 39 Steps, but it felt very minor, like Hitch was refining his game or something like that.

  4. johnheberle Says:

    yes. it’s good, but nowhere near his best.

    for good early hitchcock you gotta go to the lady vanishes. classic.

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