The 39 Steps (1935 film)

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The 39 Steps is a 1935 film about a man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Adapted by Charles Bennett from the novel by John Buchan.
Handcuffed to the girl who double-crossed him. (taglines)

Richard Hannay

  • [assuming a false identity] Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize for my hesitation in rising just now, but to tell you the simple truth, I'd entirely failed, while listening to the chairman's flattering description of the next speaker, to realize he was talking about me. As for you, may I say, from the bottom of my heart and with the utmost sincerity, how delighted and relieved I am to find myself in your presence at this moment. Delighted, because of your friendly reception, and relieved, because as long as I stand on this platform, I'm delivered from the moment - from the cares and anxieties which must always be the lot of a man in my position. When I journeyed up to Scotland a few days ago, traveling on the Highland Express, over that magnificent structure, the Forth Bridge, that monument to Scottish engineering and Scottish muscle, I had no idea that within a few days' time, I should find myself addressing an important political meeting. No idea. I planned a different program for myself. A very different program.
  • The idle rich? That's kind of an old-fashioned topic these days, especially for me because I'm not rich and I've never been idle. I've been very busy all my life and I expect to be much busier quite soon....And I know what it is to feel lonely and helpless and to have the whole world against me, and those are things that no man or woman ought to feel. And I ask your candidate and all those who love their fellow men to set themselves resolutely to make this world a happier place to live in, a world where no nation plots against nation. Where no neighbor plots against neighbor, where there is no persecution or hunting down, where everybody gets a square deal and a sporting chance, and where people try to help and not to hinder. A world from which suspicions of cruelty and fear have been forever banished. That is the sort of world I want! Is that the sort of world you want?
  • [a flock of sheep block the road as the car screeches to a halt] Hello, what are we stopping for? Oh, it's a whole flock of detectives.
  • I've got it! I've got it! Of course, there are no papers missing. All the information's inside Memory's head...Don't you see? The details of the Air Ministry secrets were borrowed, memorized by this little man, and then replaced before anyone could find out. That's why he's here tonight to take Memory out of the country after the show.


  • Sheriff: And this bullet stuck among the hymns, eh? Well, I'm not surprised, Mr. Hannay. Some of those Calvinist prayers are terrible hard to get through.


Smith: Listen, I'm going to tell you something which is not very healthy to know, but now that they have followed me here, you are in it as much as I am. Have you ever heard of the Thirty-Nine Steps?
Hannay: No, what's that - a pub?
Smith: Never mind. But what you are laughing at just now is true. These men will stick at nothing. I am the only person who can stop them. If they are not stopped, it is only a matter of days, perhaps hours, before the secret is out of the country.
Hannay: Well, why don't you phone the police or something?
Smith: 'Cause they wouldn't believe me any more than you did. And if they did, how long do you think it would take to get them going. These men act quickly. You don't know how clever their chief is. He has a dozen names, and he can look like a hundred people, but one thing he cannot disguise - this: part of his little finger is missing - so if ever you should meet a man with no top joint there, be very careful, my friend.

Salesman: [holding up a bra] Put a pretty girl inside those and she needn't be ashamed of herself anywhere.
Traveller: All right. Bring it back to me when it's filled.

Hannay: Well, I've never been to Glasgow. I've been to Edinburgh and Montreal and London. I'll tell you all about London at supper.
Margaret: John wouldn't approve of that, I doubt.
Hannay: Why not?
Margaret: He says it's best not to think of such places and all the wickedness that goes on there.
Hannay: Well, why not listen now, before he comes back? What did you want to know?
Margaret: Well, is it true that all the ladies paint their toenails?
Hannay: Some of them.
Margaret: Do London ladies look beautiful?
Hannay: They do. But they wouldn't if you were beside them. [John enters the house]
Margaret: You ought not to say that.
John: What ought you not to say?
Hannay: I was just saying to your wife that I prefer living in town than the country.
John: God made the country. Is the supper ready, woman?

Margaret: [waking Hannay] There's a car coming. It'll be the police. You'd better be going...I'm not going to let them catch you.
Hannay: I'll never forget you for doing this for me.
John: [entering] I might have known. Making love behind my back. [To his wife] Get out!
Hannay: Just a minute!
John: [To Hannay] Aye, and you too! Get out of my house before I...
Margaret: [To Hannay] Aye, go, go!
Hannay: And leave you like this? No fear! [To John] Look here, you don't understand... Look here, you're all wrong about this. She was only trying to help me.

Professor: Now, Mr. Hannay - I suppose it's safe to call you by your real name now. What about our mutual friend, Annabella?
Hannay: She's been murdered.
Professor: Murdered? Oh, the Portland Mansions affair. What our friends outside are looking for you for.
Hannay: I didn't do it.
Professor: Of course you didn't. [He turns] But why come all this way to Scotland to tell me about it?
Hannay: I believe she was coming to see you about some Air Ministry secret. She was killed by a foreign agent who is interested too.
Professor: Did she tell you what the foreign agent looked like?
Hannay: There wasn't time. Oh, there was one thing. Part of his little finger was missing.
Professor: Which one?
Hannay: This one, I think. [He holds up his hand.]
Professor: [holding up his hand, which is missing part of its little finger] Sure it wasn't... this one?

Professor: Well, Mr. Hannay, I'm afraid I've been guilty of leading you down the garden path - or should it be up? I never can remember.
Hannay: It seems to be the wrong garden, all right. Well, what are you going to do about it?
Professor: That's just the point. What are we going to do about it? You see, I live here as a respectable citizen. And you must realize that my whole existence would be jeopardized if it became known that I'm not - what shall I say? - not what I seem. Oh, Mr. Hannay, why have you come here? Why have you forced me into this difficult position? I can't lock you up in a room or anything like that?...What makes it doubly important that I shouldn't let you go is, that I'm just about to, uh, convey some very vital information out of the country. Oh yes, I've got it. I'm afraid poor Annabella would have been too late in any case.

Hannay: Couldn't you realize I was speaking the truth in that railway carriage? You must have seen I was genuine. Well, whether you believe me or not, will you put a telephone call through to the High Commissioner in London and tell him enormously important secret is being taken out of this country by a foreign agent? I can't do anything myself because of this fool of a detective. Has that penetrated?
Pamela: Right to the funny bone. Now tell me another one.
Hannay: Haven't you any sense at all? Put that call through, I beg you or refer them to me. Will you do this?
Pamela: No. Good night.

Hannay: There are twenty million women in this island and I've got to be chained to you. Now look here, miss. Once more, I'm telling you the truth...I'm telling it to you now for a third time. There's a dangerous conspiracy against this island. We're the only people who can stop it - what you've seen happen right under your very nose.
Pamela: The gallant knight to the rescue.
Hannay: All right. Then, I'm just a plain common murderer who stabbed an innocent, defenseless woman in the back not four days ago. How do you come out over that? I don't know how innocent you may be, but you're a woman and you're defenseless, and you're alone on a desolate moor in the dark manacled to a murderer who would stop at nothing to get you off his hands. And if that's the situation you prefer, have it, my lovely, and welcome.
Pamela: I'm not afraid of... [She sneezes]
Hannay: For all you know, I may murder a woman a week. So listen to one bit of advice. From now on, do every single thing I can easily do, and do it quick.
Pamela: You big bully!
Hannay: I like your pluck!

Hannay: Now what's the next item on the program?
Pamela: [gesturing toward the handcuffs] Get these things off.
Hannay: Right. How are we going to set about it? Anything in that bag of yours that would help? A pair of scissors or hairpin, or something?
Pamela: A nail file. Well, do you think that'd help?
Hannay: ...It'll take about ten years, but we can try it. Now let's make ourselves as comfortable as possible. What about that skirt of yours? It's still pretty damp, you know. I don't want to be tied to a pneumonia case on top of everything else. Take it off. I don't mind.
Pamela: I'll leave it on, thank you...My shoes and stockings are soaked so I think I'll take them off.
Hannay: That's the first sensible thing I've heard you say.

Hannay: Now, will you kindly place yourself on the operating table? [She reacts insulted and shocked.] All right, all right, nobody's gonna hurt you. This is Armistice Day. Let's get some rest while we can.
Pamela: I'm not going to lie on this bed.
Hannay: As long as you're chained to me, you'll lie wherever I lie. We're the Siamese twins.
Pamela: Oh, don't gloat!
Hannay: Gloat? Do you think I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning and seeing your face beside me, unwashed and shiny? What a sight you'll be.

Pamela: What made you wake so soon? Dreams?
Hannay: What do you mean, dreams?
Pamela: I've always been told murderers have terrible dreams.
Hannay: Oh, but only at first. Got over that a long time ago. When I first did a crime, I was quite squeamish about it. I was a most sensitive child.
Pamela: You surprise me.
Hannay: I used to wake up in the middle of the night screaming, thinking the police were after me. But one gets hardened.
Pamela: How did you start?
Hannay: Oh, quite a small way like most of us. Pilfering pennies from other childrens' lockers at school. Then a little pocket-picking and a spot of car-pinching, and smash-and-grab and sordid, plain burglary. Killed my first man when I was nineteen. [He yawns] In years to come, you'll be able to take your grandchildren to Mme. Tussaud's and point me out.
Pamela: Which section?
Hannay: Oh, it's early to say. I'm still young. But I'll be there, all right, in one department or another. Yes, you'll point me out and say: 'Chicks, if I were to tell you how matey I once was with that gentleman...'

Pamela: [after overhearing a phone call made to the Professor] I feel such a fool, not having believed you.
Hannay: Oh, that's all right. Well, we ought to get a move on. What room are those two men in?
Pamela: No room, they went as soon as they telephoned.
Hannay: They what?
Pamela: Didn't I tell you?
Hannay: You let them go after hearing what they said? You, you button-headed little idiot!
Pamela: Don't talk to me like that!
Hannay: Four or five precious hours wasted. Why didn't you wake me up at once? Even you might have realized that what they said was important.

Hannay: [breaking away from policemen] What are the Thirty-Nine Steps? Come on! Answer up! What are the Thirty-Nine Steps?
Mr. Memory: [hesitates and expresses dismay, shock and anguish on his face] The Thirty-Nine Steps is an organization of spies, collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of... [a shot rings out, knocking down Mr. Memory]


  • Handcuffed to the girl who double-crossed him
  • The "Monte Cristo" hero...
  • The MAN who put the MAN in roMANce.
  • A hundred steps ahead of any picture this year
  • The Most Charming Brute Who Ever Scorned A Lady
  • Fated to be Mated with the One Man She Hated



About The 39 Steps

  • When a picture is as good as The Thirty-nine Steps, it is almost superfluous to detail its individual virtues. I could advise you of its best moments— the scene in the political meeting, where Hannay, escaping from the police, is taken for a platform speaker, the Glencoe sequences, beautifully shot in the Highlands through a movable window frame, the glimpse down from the Forth Bridge, the thrilling shot with the foreshortened finger, the charming and expertly managed section In the inn bedroom. I could explain how steadily Hitchcock has refrained from any kind of technical chicanery, how still he keeps his cameras, how adamant he has been against trick cutting. I could point out a hundred ingenuities in the picture, and enjoy doing it, because for once in the cinema recollection is a pleasure. But it will be simpler and less selfish, I think, to include everything in the one recommendation, go to The Thirty-nine Steps and find it all out for yourselves.
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