Friday, 24 June 2011

REVIEW: The 39 Steps

Dir.: Alfred Hitchcock
With: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll

After the previous superhero fiasco, it is my absolute pleasure to write about “The 39 Steps”.  I went to see it last weekend at the Prince Charles cinema in London, a place I MUST recommend to you all! It was like travelling back in time. Not only does the vintage season this summer include some of the most celebrated films of the past, but the building itself also looks like it was transported from the times when a trip to the cinema was akin to going to the theatre. The seats, the screen, the velvet curtains and the lack of adverts work their magic and once the lights are dimmed, you find yourself watching a classic, feeling like it’s 1952 outside. So go, check out their programme here and enjoy yourself!

However, if you are not in London at the moment or if you are feeling ill and lonely, try to get a hold of “The 39 Steps” anyway. Although it was made in 1935, it is unbelievably hilarious. Generally, I find films that old too slow-paced and, if they are comedies, they often rely on slapstick for some cheap laughs. Not in this case though– the people around me were constantly giggling. Granted, sometimes I was laughing at the “special effects” from 1935 rather than at the jokes but overall the comedy in the film seemed to transcend generations. Maybe that is why “The 39 Steps” is currently number four in the BFI greatest British movies list.

The story itself is similar to “The Tourist” with Johnny Depp – a foreigner encounters a female spy and is then drawn into a crazy adventure. Mr Hannay, who is a Canadian gentleman visiting London suddenly finds himself charged with murder and has to flee to Scotland in order to find out what is really going on and protect a state secret from being stolen by a spy ring. Hannay encounters various characters on his way, one funnier than the other and gets himself out of a number of sticky situations with grace, charm and wit. Even though the ending was quite abrupt and I am still not quite sure what exactly the 39 Steps are, I loved the film and hope that you can watch it at some point; it has a very good feel about it (good to know that there were hunky men in 1935). It was also very nice for me personally to see what a train journey up to Edinburgh was like at the time.

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