Alfred Hitchcock is the finest filmmaker of suspense and thrill and even chase. His chase films are far superior and better than most. The 39 steps started it all way back in 1935 and his other films like "North By Northwest" followed it up.
I saw this film way back in 1994 in DD Metro when films were played at 10 30 at Night. I revisited this film nearly 3 times again and this time, I am reviewing it now. I must confess that I love this in all aspects.
An innocent accused of murder Robert Donat, running from London to Scotland and back picks up a reluctant Madeleine Carroll as his companion. The journey they undertake is a revelation. It's more suspenseful and happening than being merely called romantic. The hotel in which they stay, the happenings around. The protection offered and the escape and the ultimate truth being brought out. This forms the crux of the film. Now, all this while, there are some splashes of romances at least some nuances being thrown at and I hope you watch it for yourself to know what those are.
Oh, did I mention that this is an espionage film. Now, 4 years before the World War 2, Hitchcock made this in England and thats the vision of a man. Post World War, the spies become a common phenomenon. But Hitchcock made all of these much before anyone had even got a thought and that's genius. Of course there can be few more espionage films prior to this but Hitchcock glorified the genre with this film I believe.
This film came after the much successful "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and the climax follows a similar path. But this is probably Hitchcock's best film from his pre-Hollywood period era. There are some really wonderful editing moments like the one after the maids scream dissolves into the hissing of a train whistle. Now, see what she finds and that's really good in terms of editing and screenplay too.
Now, cinematography is superb the sound editing of which Hitchcock is a master is sublime considering 1935 and from gun shot to wind everything seems to be captured well.
The 39 Steps is the quintessential Hitchcock and it's worth a watch for it holds many aces up the sleeve and delivers it at the apt moments. A 4/5 for this.