Best Movies by Farr

The 39 Steps

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What's it About

After a brief disturbance at a vaudeville show he attends in London, Richard Hannay (Donat) is leaving, when a shaken young woman approaches, asking for his protection. Back at his flat, she tells him she's a British agent trying to prevent a spy ring from shipping a top-secret formula out of the country. When she ends up dead shortly after, suddenly everybody is after Richard — the authorities, who think he's the killer, and the spies, who want him silenced. Armed with few clues, Hannay goes on the run to clear himself. He soon meets Pamela (Carroll), a skeptical beauty who doesn't buy Richard's story and turns him in. Once he escapes from the police, however, fate decrees Richard and Pamela will meet again, and together solve the mystery of "The 39 Steps."

Why we love it

An early classic from the Master, "Steps" is fast, gripping, and clever, with priceless chemistry and repartee between the two charismatic young stars. Hitchcock's most successful film to-date, “Steps” also inaugurated the “innocent man on the run” theme he'd employ again, most memorably a quarter century later in "North By Northwest." "Steps" itself was re-made twice, but trust us — the original towers above the rest. That riveting climactic scene in the vaudeville theatre (where all the fuss began) is justly famous. Don't miss this gem: it's pure, prime Hitchcock.

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BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"