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The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Peggy Ashcroft, Ivor Barnard, Wilfrid Brambell, Madeleine Carroll, Frank Cellier
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Special Edition, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 2, 1999
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780021967
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,035 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Gorgeous new digital transfer, with restored picture and sound
  • The complete 1937 broadcast of the Lux Radio Theatre adaptation performed by Robert Montgomery and Ida Lupino
  • The Art of Film: Vintage Hitchcock, the complete Janus Films documentary detailing the director's British period
  • Excerpts from the original 1935 press book
  • Original production design drawings

Editorial Reviews

The best known of Hitchcock’s British films, this civilized spy yarn follows the escapades of Richard Hannay (Robert Donat), who stumbles into a conspiracy that involves him in a hectic chase across the Scottish moors—a chase in which he is both the pursuer and the pursued. Adapted from John Buchan’s novel, this classic Hitchcock "wrong man" thriller encapsulates themes that anticipate the director’s biggest American films (especially North by Northwest), and is a standout among his early works.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

139 of 154 people found the following review helpful By PonyExpress on June 10, 2004
Format: DVD
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 crisp and well-transfered; it's been restored beautifully, and as with all the films("My Man Godfrey" and "The Lady Vanishes", to name two)that have been kicking around with duped, grainy, fuzzy prints for the last 60-some years that were FINALLY restored-it's almost like watching a new movie-even if you'd thought you'd memorized all the dialogue and action! There's just so much that's missed in a bad print. Here, we have Hitch at his finest....there just isn't a dull second in this film. It's really as sure-fire as any movie ever made, in terms of entertainment. I believe this too was Hitchcock's first huge breakout international hit, although happily for us, he didn't "go Hollywood" for another 3 years or so(and gave us the later "Lady Vanishes"-another Criterion must-have).
One caveat: if you're like me(hopeless film buff), you often get these Criterions for not only the fantastic quality of the print but for the often illuminating audio tracks, usually provided by experts of one type or another; I've never quibbled with any of them before, but I have to say, don't expect Marion Keane's wall-to-wall droning to be worth it. There's generally two kinds of film "discussion"(not counting the sort where the actual director or actors gab, which we get with new films): the sort that's superb, like Rudy Behlmer's on "Adventures of Robin Hood"-an amalgam of film history, film technique, on-the-fly biographies of the actors you're watching, tidbits about the production locations, etc.etc.-nd then there's the OTHER kind:
film "semiotics".
Read more ›
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 11, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I won't argue the merits of DVD or recount the plot--but I do want to say this is a practically perfect film; it has it all: humor, suspense, romance, action, intrigue. I think it is Hitch's best British film, with the "The Lady Vanishes" coming in second. All of the actors are great, the script is fantastic, and Hitch's direction is unparelleled: the way he moves the camera, uses cuts, and frames the shots. This is such a fun and well-made film I almost hate seeing some of his later Hollywood movies which may have featured superstars like Bergman and Grant, but were made under the constrictive thumb of either Selznick or Hollywood moral conventions. "The 39 Steps" is a flat out wonderful movie, and Hitchcock was an absolute master.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "scotsladdie" on November 20, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Many critics and viewers alike feel that this is one of Hitchcocks' finest films: viewer response to the film today is often as enthusiastic as when it was first released. One of the directors' favourite themes is used here: the innocent caught in bizarre circumstances that he or she doesn't understand. Particularly effective in the film are rapid changes of situation and Hitchcock's obvious contention that nothing is sacred, especially if a location or situation can be used to demonstrate the cleverness of his protagonist. There is a funny scene with Donat and Carroll, handcuffed together, pretending to be newlyweds "forced" to spend the night together. Visually, the film enabled Hitchcock to transfer some silent film techniques most effectively: the silent dialogue between Donat and the farmer's kind wife as seen through the window of the farmer's cottage is memorable as is the wind blowing curtains at a window on a stormy London night. There was no doubt that Hitchcock was a genius; he was the real star of the film; two modern remakes pale in comparison to this original gem from 1935.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Paul Anthony Hagl on August 18, 2002
Format: DVD
Five stars in all might make me sound like an easy-to-please viewer, but I don't see how this DVD could be better. Criterion never disappoints, so if you're buying this film it's worth paying extra for this one. I believe the transfer is way superior and the extras go on longer than an awards night.
The documentary focuses on Hitchcock's British films, which aren't as widely seen these days and also a complete radio broadcast from 1937. Talk about diggin' up some material! I also enjoyed the commentary and that press book stuff. I'm not even sure I've seen it all. Actually, I'm still not sure what The 39 Steps really is exactly, but who cares? I pity people who don't watch certain movies because they're old and black & white. The reason people should see this film is because no one can make a film like this anymore. This is a great film, don't miss it.
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90 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Unreal Name on October 17, 2005
Format: DVD
If you don't get the Criterion Edition, you will be getting an inferior transfer of this film: fuzzy images, fuzzier sound...yuck! The "bad" transfers include the one that Tony Curtis introduces.

Again, look for the Criterion Edition.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Mular TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 17, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
I did a comparison of the new Criterion Blu-ray transfer to the old Criterion DVD transfer (I don't have the old Image DVD to compare it to).

One big improvement I see between the Blu-ray and the old DVD is that the image is much more steady on the Blu-ray presentation. There is more bounce to the picture in the old DVD.
Near the beginning as the camera pulls up to the ticket window, look at the posted notice, it bounces around as if floating separate of the background on the old DVD, it is steady and seems attached to the background on the new Blu-ray.

BUT there seems to be some fluctuation in the blacks in the new Blu-ray transfer that was not in the old DVD. This was a little annoying, why did it turn up now? Has the original film started to deteriorate since the last transfer? This fluctuation, or flicker starts right at the beginning as the British Film Board Certificate fades in, and it remains in the picture, most of the time unnoticeable but other times it stands out.

Even though the new transfer is still soft, the Blu-ray has no compression artifacting that was noticeable in the old DVD. I can not vouch for the new DVD.

The bottom line: is it worth upgrading to Blu-ray? I would say only "maybe". I was a little disappointed that it did not look sharper and that the blacks flickered.
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