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Criterion Collection: The 39 Steps [Blu-ray] [1935] [US Import]

Robert Donat , Alfred Hitchcock    Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
Price: 23.13
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Frequently Bought Together

Criterion Collection: The 39 Steps [Blu-ray] [1935] [US Import] + To Catch A Thief [Blu-ray] [1955] [Region Free] + Alfred Hitchcock Collection: Dial M for Murder / North By Northwest / Strangers on a Train [Blu-ray] [1951] [Region Free]
Price For All Three: 46.33

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Product details

  • Actors: Robert Donat
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Jun 2012
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007N5YJWK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,207 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



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 Buchan's rather stiff novel. Robert Donat plays Richard Hannay, who becomes embroiled in a plot to steal 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


A classic British spy mystery, and one of Hitchcock's best, The 39 Steps tells the thrilling tale of an innocent man, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), who struggles to prove he is not guilty of committing the murder for which he is being held accountable. Richard got more than he bargained for when he brought home a mysterious woman, who later confessed to be a British agent on the hot trail of a dangerous spy ring. The woman is killed in Richard's apartment and he immediately finds himself on the run, burdened with the charge for her murder and the dangerous knowledge of her mission. Hitchchock's film is distinguished by its pioneering use of contrapuntal sound effects, as well as the dynamism between Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Special features on the The 39 Steps DVD include biographies, a behind-the-scenes stills gallery and animated menus.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 123 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A major Step backwards 21 Oct 2009
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
As a fan of this 1935 classic, I was so looking forward to this HD release. With the exception of the aspect ratio on Thunderbirds, ITV blu-ray haven't put a foot wrong so far. This release breaks that record. A candidate for the worst HD release ever. What went wrong?. No restoration, print damage evident all the way through, no contrast, greys instead of rich blacks and picture so soft, it could almost be a VHS tape converted to HD. Avoid this like the plague and purchase the excellent Criterion DVD instead. The picture quality on this blu-ray release really is that bad. ITV, hang your head in shame at this travesty of a disc..
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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very poor Blu-ray for 39 Steps 23 Oct 2009
By Dr T
I watched this on a rental last night and I am very glad I did not buy it! The film is fantastic with humour, great actors and stunning cinematography for its time. However the transfer is very, very poor. After seeing some great remasters recently, this is very disappointing indeed. As mentioned by the other reviewers, the picture lacks detail, contrast, stability (it wobbles a lot) and has significant damage. The audio is also very poor. Both the video and audio elements need a lot of work. Unless there's a vastly improved re-issue, I cannot recommend this Blu-ray at all. Very sad.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Always read customer reviews 16 April 2013
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
Note to self in future: always read customer reviews on amazon before purchasing anything new. I love this film and jumped at the chance to buy in blu ray, having missed the fact that it had been out for a while. What an appalling disappointment. Within 5 minutes my wife and I said, there is something wrong here and stopped watching. I had built myself up to thinking this might be as good as the truly wonderful blu ray of Casablanca. Without doubt it is the worst of my blu ray library by a mile and in fact will not be in it for much longer as it is on it's way to the charity shop. My copy in dvd format by Network as part of Hitchcock, The British Years is much better. It did not cost much and now I know why but I am nonetheless very disappointed. Note: this review applies to the ITV version.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars better than the DVD, but disappointing 22 Oct 2009
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
The transfer is a step up from the previous Carlton/Granada/ITV DVD releases and more detail is visible in the image. However, the film desperately needs restoration work and a transfer with better quality contrast. If you don't own the film on DVD at all, then this Bluray is worth considering, but don't expect a reference quality transfer.

If you own the Criterion DVD, then you're probably not going to notice much difference between the ITV Bluray and that DVD upscaled. Plus, the Criterion transfer has much better contrast.

In terms of extras, you get:
- audio commentary from Marian Keane (from the Criterion DVD)
- "Hitchcock: The Early Years" documentary
- short "On Location" ITV programme, with Robert Powell
- stills, on set photos, posters & publicity

Overall, a disappointing release of a early Hitchcock masterpiece.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tremendous picture 15 Jan 2003
Without a doubt, this is the best Hitchcock chase movie, and certainly one of his most enjoyable. Many may be put of by the somewhat shaky production values and the age (I was), which makes the film seem tremendously old. Coupled to this, Robert Donat's hair and moustache does the film no favours. However those who turn a blind eye to this gem will kick
themselves. The film IS better than North By Northwest. Now I have watched the latter film 3-4 times since, but I cannot shake the feeling it is somewhat overrated but by just. It is still an excellent film, but by no means up there with his best. The 39 Steps is better. The story has better pacing, a wittier interchange between the 2 leads (and from the supporting characters - i.e. the 2 gentlemen in the train) and some subtler comedy substances. Plus the fact the locations are moodier - London, and dark, misty Scotland! The chemistry between the two leads is phenomenal much better than in North by Northwest, and yet, is based purely on the their mental and verbal interactions rather than their physical.
There are also some great touches such as that famous sound cut to the roaring train when the first murder is discovered, and just the small, finer creative flourishes littered throughout the film (including an early great continous cut in the car, somehting he would try later in Rope). These touches add so much to the enjoyment value if you can appreciate them. The set pieces, although more brief and low key compared to his later films, they complement the story to no end. They all fit in with the natural flow of the film as opposed to being flamboyant showpieces.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's Masterly Espionage Template 22 May 2013
By Keith M TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock (which was based on John Buchan's novel of the same name) is, for me, one of the most brilliantly made and (for its time) innovative thrillers to ever reach the big screen, which, along with the same director's The Man Who Knew Too Much (made the previous year) set a template (and standard) for a vast swathe of other spy/espionage/chase films which followed, including Hitch's own Foreign Correspondent, Saboteur, The Lady Vanishes and North By North West. The 39 Steps is a model in the art of visual storytelling, and is peppered with moments of great humour (much of it decidedly risqué for the time), adventure and suspense.

Hitch's (almost unique) visual sense hits home immediately as a result of his initial set-up of visiting Canadian Richard Hannay's (Robert Donat) strange encounter at a London theatre with Lucie Mannheim's mysterious, flustered and foreign-accented 'Miss Smith', via the words 'Music Hall' emblazoned across the screen and Hannay's feet and lower body (only) in screenshot entering the theatre. At the same time, the theatregoers' cockney humour and banter, as they quiz variety act Mr Memory, assures us that we're also in for a barrel of laughs. It is not until the enigmatic Miss Smith does her dying swan act that Hannay takes her story seriously ('Sounds like a spy story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good value
Published 14 days ago by allan collis
2.0 out of 5 stars bbbbb
good film for black and white fsans
Published 15 days ago by david
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
better than the remake
Published 23 days ago by I. M. BARRETT
5.0 out of 5 stars don't be confused that it's in b&w
that hitchcock repeatedly stole so much from this movie for his hollywood efforts in itself should tell you a lot about how good this movie is. Read more
Published 1 month ago by MV
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
The best ever 39steps ,Joe Cocker"
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like old films watch this one
Very good film
Published 2 months ago by Northern Viking
4.0 out of 5 stars The Original 39 Steps
Excellent delivery time for this Alfred Hitchcock film. I just had to buy the original as I was brought up on films like this. Although a little dated, thoroughly enjoyable
Published 2 months ago by colinc
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't beat the old ones!
Made in the 30s, this film is very enjoyable with some dramatic moments and some comic ones too. Of all the versions of 'The 39 Steps', this is my favourite. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. A. Sutcliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars classic..
I have seen this film many years ago. Recently, i went to see the west end production of 39 steps and it was amazing so i had to reacquaint myself with the film! Love it all..
Published 4 months ago by Gilbert Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars Brill
The best, is this first attempt at this story. A bit grainy in places but as its an old film you would expect that.
Published 6 months ago by Alison
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