The Thirty-Nine Steps
The Thirty-Nine Steps – 1978 | 102mins | Thriller | Colour
The third film adaptation of John Buchan’s espionage novel adheres more faithfully to the source material but fails to reach the suspenseful heights of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic version.
It is early 1914. Europe is on the brink of war. London seems peaceful enough but a dangerous conspiracy is underway. Colonel Scudder (John Mills), a retired British Intelligence Service agent has unearthed a plot to assassinate the Greek Prime Minister on a visit to London and thus precipitate World War 1. After a series of assassinations by Prussian agents, Scudder seeks refuge in the flat of Richard Hannay (Robert Powell), a mining engineer on leave in London.
Hannay becomes implicated after being involved at the scene of Scudder’s murder and is arrested by a disbelieving police. After leaving court Hannay is kidnapped by foreign agents and interrogated by Appleton (David Warner), who allows Hannay to escape in the hope he will lead them to Scudder’s missing notebook. Hannay returns to the scene of Scudder’s murder at St. Pancras railway station and discovers his much sought after notebook, and thereby follows an exciting series of hair’s breadth escapes across the country to the Scottish Highlands with foreign agents and the police on Hannay’s trail. Hannay attempts to solve the riddle of the “39 Steps”, building up to a famous climax on the face of Big Ben that seems borrowed from earlier films.
Don Sharp: Director
John Coquillon: Cinematography
Eric Boyd-Perkins: Editing
Greg Smith: Original Music
Greg Smith: Producer
Harry Pottle: Production Design
Michael Robson: Script
Peter Desbois: Sound Department
Peter Sutton: Sound Department
Don Wortham: Sound Department