The 39 Steps (2008)





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Rupert Penry Jones headlines this tale of intrigue based on the bestselling novel by author John Buchan. London, 1914: Richard Hanney (Jones) has just returned from a stint in Africa, and he's already bored with life back home. That is, until he crosses paths with a man named Scudder (Eddie Marsan). Shortly after revealing himself to be a British spy, Scudder winds up dead in Hanney's flat, and it appears that Hanney is about to take the fall for the murder. If Hanney can just expose the German espionage ring that Scudder spoke about, perhaps he can prove his innocence. The authorities closing in, Hanney heads for Scotland with Scudder's coded notebook in hand, and finds himself at odds with fiery women's lib advocate Victoria Sinclair (Lydia Leonard). Personality clashes take a backseat to cooperation, however, when Hanney and Sinclair discover evidence of treason at the highest levels, and learn of a plot to invade Great Britain. If they can just identify the traitor in time, perhaps these two unlikely allies can prevent a conflict that could destabilize the entire globe.
Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Television
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Rupert Penry-Jones
as Richard Hannay
Lydia Leonard
as Victoria Sinclair
David Haig
as Sir George Sinclair
Patrick Malahide
as Professor Fisher
Patrick Kennedy
as Harry Sinclair
Eddie Marsan
as Scudder
Alex Jennings
as Capt. Kell
Steven Elder
as Vicar/Wakeham
Werner Daehn
as Ackerman
Peter Stark
as Engel
Del Synnott
as London Constable
Roger de Courcey
as Ventriloquist
David Gallacher
as Professor's Butler
James Bryce
as Concierge at Club
Stewart Preston
as Waiter at Club
Sandy Neilson
as Old Man in Club
Barbara Downie
as Woman on Stairs
George Docherty
as Train Policeman
Sean Kane
as Town Hall Policeman
Mitchell Fleming
as Little Boy
Charlotte Fleming
as Little Girl
Kathryn Howden
as Landlady
Allan Sawers
as Sergeant at Stirling Castle
David McDowell
as Sentry at Stirling Castle
Michael Stokes
as German Accomplice
Paul Comrie
as German Accomplice
Johnny Meres
as Station Attendant
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Critic Reviews for The 39 Steps

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Audience Reviews for The 39 Steps

"39 Nine Steps" into comple farce Spoilers, spoilers. Yesterday I saw the weirdest made-for-TV movie ever: 39 Nine Steps (BBC, 2008 - free on youtube), written by a Lizzie Mickery. I had first read it was a spy thriller set before WWI. OK, let's give it a try. It starts with a pretty intense running away scene. It's the classic Grisham plot (although he's not the author): the innocent dashing hero, Richard Hannay, is at the scene of the murder of a spy and is therefore believed to be the murderer, so he runs for his life from the police and the real murderers, and must be clever at every turn as he decides to solve the crime by himself. This is going to be a fast-paced movie, with lots of suspense and danger, I thought. Well, it was all very nice, with a million twists and turns, except the movie very quickly turns into a complete farce fit for 11 year olds, in the sense that the hero (and his quickly added woman companion) start getting away from completely impossible situations again and again and again. My brain first started going, "Wait a second... What just happened here? This simply would not have been possible." But then you're like, "OK, maybe it could have happened, like one in a million chances, he made it somehow." The second part of your brain then starts trying to convince the first part of the opposite. And the first part of your brain is still thinking rationally, "No, no, listen, this would not have been possible." The second part of your brain insists, "It has to be possible, because he just did it." "No way." "It happened, you saw it". And you get this uneasy feeling of being told authoritatively that 2+2 is somehow 5. As you sort of re-classify the first impossible incident as maybe somehow somewhere, who knows, two minutes later... "Wait a second. What did this guy just do now? That's impossible!" Then two minutes later... Then you realize you've been had by the description of this movie as a "spy thriller" - read realistic. And the ridiculous "photographic memory" thing. Jeez. The movie has a really fun romance, though, following the spy story. But then it even twists the romance ridiculously at the very end. The end where she is shot and falls into the lake was one of the most horrible endings I have ever seen. Why? Because the movie is such light, entertaining farce. It's not the kind of movie that the woman hero would die tragically at the end, after the lovers finally admitted their love, etc. etc. It felt like I had been kicked. What awful writing. And then, the most stupid scene ever happens. The movie tells you: Oh wait, she didn't really drown after being shot and falling into a lake with the hero diving after her and not even seeing her body - meaning it had sunk real deep, beyond reach. Somehow she got away swimming after being shot and under water without oxygen for 30 minutes. Awful. How does such a bad ending get approved by a whole chain of executives? I don't understand it. But I thought Rupert Penry-Jones was a great choice for the hero character. Handsome and athletic and dashing and sensitive and all. more reviews at:

Alessandra Ref
Alessandra Ref

Pretty good. Nothing spectacular.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


The 39 Steps is a likable made for BBC film based on the book by John Buchan. The Alfred Hitchcock version is a classic and this film takes a smarter approach than the film-makers did that remade Psycho. Rather than being a shot by shot remake, it's pretty different than the Hitchcock version even if the plot is a lot alike. I also think Rupert Penry-Jones did a fine job in the lead as a man mistaken as a murderer of a spy and on the run from police.

Jim Woehr
Jim Woehr

Super Reviewer

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