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The 39 Steps [DVD][1939 version starring Robert Donat]

4.4 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Charles Bennett, Ian Hay, John Buchan
  • Producers: Ivor Montagu, Michael Balcon
  • Format: PAL, Dolby, Mono, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Jun. 2007
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AY13
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,511 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Alfred Hitchcock's most celebrated British thriller, adapted from John Buchan's novel. Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) becomes the victim of mistaken identity when a female corpse is dumped in his flat by a spy ring. He tries to track down the true murderers whilst being pursued by the police, and hooks up with an unwilling accomplice (Madeleine Carroll). Their adventure eventually leads them to a music hall, where the secret of the 39 steps is revealed. Also included is the documentary 'Hitchcock - The Early Years'.

From Amazon.co.uk

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
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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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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Format: Blu-ray
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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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.
2 Comments 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
This is one of my all time favourite movies and I couldn't wait to own it on blu-ray.
What a massive disappointment, the transfer to blu-ray is absolutely no different to the normal definition dvd available. I watched this movie a couple of weeks ago on a satellite HD channel and to be honest the picture quality was far far better than this sorry attempt at mugging people off under the blu-ray banner(sadly,me being one of them!).
In fact I even started to doubt that I had been sent the blu-ray version and had to check the disc and the case.
If it wasn't for the fact that delivery was free and the price was reduced I would either be giving it away or returning it for a refund!
An absolute waste of time money and effort, mind you I'm not surprised as it's from ITV who either fob you off with poor quality discs of movies or tv series that are shorter cut versions of the televised episodes, i.e. endeavour.
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Format: DVD
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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