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5352 views since 7th Feb 2010

The 39 Steps
- favourite film

Ah! a time when all adventurers had moustaches and jauntily tipped hats, and all leading women were blonde and beautiful. Hitchcock ís 1935 film is based only very loosely on John Buchan ís page-turner of 1915, but in spite of major differences they both grab you and propel you from one death-defying moment to the next. This is a thriller with no pretences to being anything else, though part of the thrill is following the bumpy course of true love. Robert Donat plays Richard Hannay with knowing charm; Madeleine Carroll as his unwilling companion (the love interest in the film where the novel had none) is spirited, engaging, and quietly sexy Ė which red-blooded man would not want to be handcuffed to her? And Godfrey Tearle makes a suave and cold-blooded villain that pre-war kids in the 2d seats would have booed roundly. The plot is as ludicrous as Buchanís was implausible, but it doesnít matter: Hannay jumps from a train; escapes from the police; makes an impromptu speech at a political gathering (an episode common to film and book); and in the end wins the girl and saves Britain from dastardly foreign types. As we always know he will.

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Current top 10
1: Oliver!
2: Zulu
3: The Railway Children
4: The Italian Job
5: Life of Brian
6: Trainspotting
7: The Third Man
8: The 39 Steps
9: The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover
10: Local Hero

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