Watch The 39 Steps, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 Classic

Back in 1915, John Buchan pub­lished his grip­ping adven­ture nov­el The Thir­ty-Nine Steps (find free ebook here). Two decades lat­er, in 1935, Alfred Hitch­cock direct­ed the first of four film adap­ta­tions based on the book, and it’s by far the best. We won’t revis­it the plot.

But we will tell you that Hitch­cock­’s clas­sic, star­ring Robert Donat and Madeleine Car­roll, ranks fourth on The British Film Insti­tute’s list of the great­est British films of the 20th cen­tu­ry. And, if you’re won­der­ing why crit­ics give Hitch­cock­’s film such high praise, sim­ply turn to Mar­i­an Keane’s essay on Cri­te­ri­on’s web­site, which ends with these words:

The director’s deep­est subjects—theater and its rela­tion to film, the aban­don­ment of human beings in vacant and fore­bod­ing land­scapes, the com­plex human quest for knowl­edge, and the nature of accidents—abound in The 39 Steps. Hitchcock’s per­cep­tion of the pre­car­i­ous­ness of human exis­tence, and his belief in film’s capac­i­ty to reveal and reflect on it, lie at the heart of his achieve­ment as a mas­ter of the art of film.

Thanks to YouTube and the Inter­net Archive, you can sit back and enjoy The 39 Steps online. It’s per­fect for the upcom­ing week­end, and it’s one of 15 Hitch­cock films avail­able on the web. See our list of Free Hitch­cock Films and our larg­er list of 1000+ Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Alfred Hitch­cock Recalls Work­ing with Sal­vador Dali on Spell­bound

Truffaut’s Big Inter­view with Hitch­cock (MP3s)

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Comments (5)
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  • G Elliott says:

    Hitch­cock­’s manip­u­la­tion of the nov­el­’s plot (the intro­duc­tion of a love sto­ry, etc.) is deft, clever, and believ­able. Car­roll as the female lead is strong and, with­in her para­me­ters, as forth­right a por­tray­al as one might expect in a Hitch­cock film. Donat is incred­i­bly lik­able as the lead: threat­en­ing when he needs to be, but also quick-wit­ted, ami­able, and vul­ner­a­ble. The social sub­text with­in the film just screams to be exam­ined, yet Hitch­cock­’s gloss­ing over it sim­ply whets the appetite rather than leaves one furi­ous­ly demand­ing more.

  • nancy henriksen says:

    The vol­ume was impos­si­bly low.…sadly I turned off the film.

  • Value says:

    Links are bro­ken.

  • John Stuercke says:

    I love Hitch and real­ly like this film. The foun­da­tion, for the 39 Steps is rather sketchy, how­ev­er. We start in the the­ater. Mass exit. No sign of the killers when they hop on the bus. Mag­i­cal­ly they know just where the bus goes and where the two stop off. They don’t know his name, but sure they know which apart­ment is his. In the 1930s they instant­ly know which num­ber to call their phone. They are locked out but an open win­dow puts a knife in the wom­an’s back. Why the hell don’t they go after him too, while they are in the apart­ment? Cause sure as hell, the phone keeps ring­ing and they don’t leave the area. The more I watch the more agi­tat­ed I get about the begin­ning.

  • Power says:

    That was actu­al­ly a good movie! A clas­sic Hitch­cock movie with the plot twist!

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