The 39 Steps is a 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with the classic Hitchcock plot: an ordinary man finds himself mixed up in acts of espionage against his will and has to find a way to extricate himself and save the day. Adapted from the first of adventure novelist John Buchan’s “Richard Hannay” novels — and apparently adapted very loosely — it stars Richard Donat in the lead role as Hannay.
Hannay is enjoying himself at a public performance by “Mr. Memory” (Wylie Watson in a small amusing role) when a fight breaks out in the audience and shots are fired. After the theatre clears out, he is approached by an attractive young woman (Lucie Mannheim), who asks if she can come home with him. He thinks she’s just being pleasantly forward, but when they get to his rented apartment, Miss Annabelle Smith reveals that she is the one who fired the shots, as a diversion to escape two men who are hunting her. She’s a spy, charged with protecting a national secret, and if she doesn’t get a message to a certain Scottish village in time, the secret will be smuggled out of the country. Continue reading