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39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 42.99
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39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Lady Vanishes (Criterion) (Blu-Ray) + Man Who Knew Too Much, the [Blu-ray]
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Product Description


A high point of Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood career, 1935's The Thirty-Nine Steps is the first and best of three film versions of John Buchann's rather stiff novel. Robert Donat plays the rancher embroiled in a plot to steal British military secrets. He finds himself on the run; falsely accused of murder, while also pursuing the dastardly web of spies alluded to in the title. With a plot whose twists and turns match the hilly Scottish terrain in which much of the film is set, The Thirty-Nine Steps combines a breezy suavity with a palpable psychological tension. Hitchcock was already a master at conveying such tension through his cinematic methods, rather than relying just on situation or dialogue. Sometimes his ways of bringing the best out of his actors brought the worst out in himself. If the scene in which Donat is handcuffed to co-star Madeline Carroll has a certain edge, for instance, that's perhaps because the director mischievously cuffed them together in a rehearsal, then left them attached for a whole afternoon, pretending to have lost the key. The movie also introduces Hitchcock's favoured plot device, the "McGuffin" (here, the military secret), the unexplained device or "non-point" on which the movie turns. --David Stubbs

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
1935's The 39 Steps is the film that really put Alfred Hitchcock on the map as a world-class movie director. With its mixture of classic Hitchcockian wit, dark (and light) humor, and suspense, it brought to the fore the man's genius and set the stage for many a classic thriller to come. Robert Donat is excellent in the role of Richard Hannay, a young Canadian who finds himself in between a rock and a hard place after his encounter with a young female spy in London, while Madeleine Carroll brings beauty, grace, and a sense of romance to Hannay's increasingly harrowing quest to not only prove himself innocent of murder but to safeguard the defense of Great Britain from foreign agents. All he has to go on are a cryptic reference to something called "the 39 steps," a name of a town in Scotland, and a warning to stay away from any man missing the upper digit on his right pinkie finger.

When the mysterious Annabella Smith (Lucie Mannheim) invites herself home with him and tells him her fantastic story of intrigue and danger, Hannay doesn't quite believe her - until, that is, she turns up in the night with a knife in her back. Knowing that the killers are waiting for him outside (and also knowing how likely the police would be to find him guilty of the murder up in his flat), he quickly adopts the classic mantle of the innocent man on the run, desperate to ultimately prove his innocence. The journey he makes from London to a little town in Scotland is not an easy one, as Hannay finds himself running from the bad guys who want to kill him as well as the cops pursuing him for murder.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nail Biter June 16 2004
"39 Steps" is the last of Hitchcock's British nail biters. He took his style to Hollywood after this one. All the elements of a Hitchcock thriller are here. We have the mistaken man plot. Our hero has stumbled on a den of spies. He must prove his innocence and thwart the theft of military secrets and escape Scotland Yard from London Music halls to Scottish moors. The Hitchcock blonde is Madeline Carroll and her stocking scene must have been tough for American censors. Hitchcock learned his craft from the German expressionists and you can see the darkness of that genre in this gem. In the top twenty of best movies ever made, I recommend 39 Steps.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars DISMAL TRANSFER OF A HITCHCOCK CLASSIC Dec 9 2003
By Nix Pix
Alfred Hitchcock's British film making period hints at the brilliant foray of creative genius that was to follow during his Hollywood tenure. In "The 39 Steps" Hitch' perfectly captures the aura of swinging London and its music halls - except that this time they have become the scenes for murder, mayhem and, one of Hitchcock's classic touches, the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Robert Donat stars as that wrong man, playing out a series of parts as Richard Hannay, Mr. Hammond, Capt. Frazer and Henry Hopkins. A Canadian tourist, Hannay is forced to flee police across the countryside and Scottish moors after he is suspected as part of a deadly conspiracy that resulted in the murder of a mysterious spy in his London flat. Hannay is accompanied, for the most part, by the abstinent Pamela (Madeleine Carroll). Determined to prove his own innocence and find the criminal mastermind with the missing fingers, Hannay eventually winds up in a showdown and a race against time. Hitchcock populates his landscape with a series of eccentrics, villains and downright kooks in an effortless blend or romance and adventure.
"The 39 Steps" is made available in a slew of bootlegged DVD transfers - none of which are satisfactory, including the legitimate and expensive Criterion Edition. Granted "The 39 Steps" was a film in genuinely bad shape, before Criterion came along. But this DVD is not "pristine" or "sparkling" as Criterion's packaging suggests. Contrast levels are still too low. There's an incredible amount of camera flicker in almost all of the scenes. Fine details are lost in darker scenes and only marginally visible during the brighter ones. There's also a limited amount of edge enhancement and shimmering of fine detail.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good story, classic Hitchcock Oct. 4 2013
By AndreC
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Wonderful rendition of the John Buchan novel. Still resonates in this new century. A must for the lovers of the genre - spy, chase, mystery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars THE 39 STEPS Aug. 29 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The delivery was excellent. I could not play the DVD on my DVD player. I contacted the Seller, through Amazon, asking for suggestions. An immediate reply suggested I try to play it on my computer. The result was successful. We enjoyed it thoroughly. A thought occurred to me the next a.m. I tried the disc on my Blu-ray player; it worked well. My DVD player must be too old.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sur toute la ligne ! Feb. 6 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Je suis très satisfait et je recommande fortement ce vendeur. Excellent sur toute la ligne !
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I cannot agree with most of the reviewers, here, about the movie itself. It's not that I dislike old movies; I'm actually a huge fan of movies from this era and of Hitchcock's later films. But, this particular movie has little to recommend it, in terms of entertainment value.
You can, at times, see shades of the greatness to come in Hitchcock's direction, but he hadn't reached anywhere near his peak, at this point. I found the acting to be stilted, wooden, and caricaturish; the pacing alternately inappropriately frantic and unforgivably plodding.
Judging from the reviews that specify the version, the Criterion Collection edition is quite a good transfer. Unfortunately, the Laserlight Video version is a waste of plastic; dreadful audio, grainy, alternately washed out and too dark, splices, skips, etc. It's the version currently selling for [$$], and isn't worth even that paltry sum.
Students of Hitchcock, buy the Criterion Collection edition, if you must own this film. Fans of Hitchcock, rent the Criterion edition, if you wish to satisfy your curiousity. Everyone, avoid the Laserlight Video edition, at all costs!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion does it again...
I just ordered the Criterion Hitchcock "set" which includes "The 39 Steps", a movie I've watched many times over the last 20 years, but NEVER in a form this... Read more
Published on June 10 2004 by PonyExpress
3.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Hitchcock
I found the ending to this film to be disappointing, I might even say lame or contrived, and that ruined my enjoyment of most of the movie. Read more
Published on June 5 2004 by Chris Cavell
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mystery in Scotland
"The 39 Steps" will never be called anyone's favorite Hitchcock film. He had not yet hit his stride, and many of the Hitchcock hallmarks had not yet been developed. Read more
Published on June 3 2004 by Zack Davisson
5.0 out of 5 stars a great Hitchcock classic
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
The 39 steps, one of Hitchcock's most well known British films, is surely a great one bansed on the "wrong... Read more
Published on May 5 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars When were Helicopters invented?
I was of the belief that helicopters wern't invented until WW2 or later, but after seeing this excellent movie, and the moors scene where one is chasing our hero, I realise that I... Read more
Published on March 6 2004 by RICK AND OLLY
4.0 out of 5 stars Why 39 Steps?
I like this movie, the characters are believable and sympathetic, the action is riveting, and there is enough suspense . . . but . . . why is the plot so convoluted. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2004 by C Brunner
3.0 out of 5 stars Takes All The Right "Steps"
There are those who will agrue forever and a day about which Hitchcock was better. The American Hitchcock ("Rear Window", "Psycho", & "Rebecca") or the British Hitchcock ("The Lady... Read more
Published on Dec 22 2003 by Alex Udvary
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