HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
Bloodthirsty
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Demonic
Night Drive
Luca
Prospect
Toll, The
Last Bus, The
Purple Sea
   
 
Newest Articles
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Thirty Nine Steps, The Against The Clock
Year: 1978
Director: Don Sharp
Stars: Robert Powell, David Warner, Eric Porter, Karen Dotrice, John Mills, George Baker, Ronald Pickup, Donald Pickering, Timothy West, Miles Anderson, Andrew Keir, Robert Flemyng, William Squire, Paul McDowell, David Collings, John Normington, Edward de Souza
Genre: Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Ageing intelligence man Scudder (John Mills) has a fight on his hands - a fight to convince his superiors that there is a dire threat to the British nation imminent. He does not have any concrete proof, and this goes against him when he contacts two officials who humour him by saying that there may well be a Prussian plot against the country designed to sabotage the Navy, but without any further information there's not much they can do, though they will look into it. Alas, that assertion comes too late, for soon those two officials have been assassinated, and Scudder is on the run...

Luckily, the safe haven he opts for is the apartment of an engineer who lives in the same building as Scudder, none other than Richard Hannay (Robert Powell), who would have been best known to audiences of the day not for this film but for a certain classic work from Alfred Hitchcock's British years back in the thirties, then played by Robert Donat. There are still those who refuse to accept anyone else in the role as the definitive Hannay, but Powell made a pretty good try at it in a film that was at once a purely Boys' Own adventure yet also a slightly self-conscious send up of all that type of vintage entertainment.

Many took this at face value, and it did come across as far more straightforward than another Hitchcock remake, The Lady Vanishes of around the same time, but there were strong hints in Powell's performance of a cross between "Don't you know who I am?" and playing the Englishness to the hilt, to the extent that he was aiming for laughs in his Hannay, and not all of them indulgent of the character's stiff upper lipped gentleman's outlook. He certainly came across as having more fun with this as almost anyone else in the film, and little wonder as it was largely his show all the way once Mills had been disposed of in an early on plot twist that sees Hannay left to alert the authorities.

A tricky thing to do when those authorities believe him to be a spy himself, and as if that were not bad enough he also has to contend with the three actual Prussian agents gearing up for war by attempting to weaken the United Kingdom's defences. The trouble with that aspect is that this being set in 1914, the most satisfying outcome would be for Hannay to prevent the First World War from ever happening in the first place, but as we know this is impossible then the best he can do is hold it off for a while before the inevitable occurs. Takes the shine off his heroics, that. Fortunately Powell went above and beyond the call of duty in his performance as well as what he was acting out in the fiction.

This included pulling the emergency chain on a steam train - nostalgists for such trappings were well served here - and climbing from a bridge to escape as all the while those agents were hot on his heels, not to mention the police who think he was responsible for those assassinations. This did not stick to the storyline of the Hitchcock version, so was sufficiently different that close comparisons were not necessary, notably in the way that there was only one woman (Disney heroine Karen Dotrice, all grown up) present with much to do, and that was get saved at the end: this was very much the manly men's yarn all the way. The biggest alteration was the finale dreamt up for Hannay to hang off the face of Big Ben, which some saw as a hark back to the similar ending to the Will Hay comedy My Learned Friend, with to be honest the same amount of hilarity, though unintentional in this case. Although it did lead to Not the Nine O'Clock News using the footage for their News at Ten spoof, so it wasn't all bad - like this film, an amusing romp all the way. Music by Ed Welch.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4077 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: