Filmtip: 39 Steps

In de nacht van donderdag 29 op vrijdag 30 oktober 2009 van 01:20 tot 02:45 uur op BBC 2. Film van Alfred Hitchcock uit 1935 gebaseerd op het boek van John Buchan. Vanaf 00:20 uur werpt Paul Merton al een blik op Hitchcock.

S. James Snyder: “The 39 Steps” finds Richard traversing the countryside in an effort to evade both the establishment and its subverters. As the plot thickens, he’s forced to make a daring escape from a moving train, is double-crossed time and again by men on both sides of the law, and eventually finds himself back at the same theater where the story began, listening to the same man of memory, replaying the film’s opening scene.

What really makes the film click, though, is Richard’s fallible, everyman status. He’s improvising as he moves forward, and we can help navigate the terrain as he improvises a political speech, an escape, and a daring plan B. We gasp at his many dangerous decisions because, occasionally, Hitchcock allows him to fail. Like so many of the director’s antiheroes to come, Richard doesn’t project the invincibility of a Bruce Willis or a Vin Diesel. He’s as likely to finish the story as to die trying.

Also notable is the way that “The 39 Steps” works both as surface distraction and nuanced artwork. We have the chases, the gunshots, the near-escapes, and the larger mystery of an act of treason. We have the cadre of women, and the subdued erotic tension. But it doesn’t take a film scholar to see the technical prowess already flowing from the young director’s mind. In the lighting of a stairwell, the tilted close-ups, the provocative points of view that offer and deny information to the viewer, the detailed choreography of the chase sequences — even in the understated charisma shared by Donat and Madeleine Carroll, who plays his unwitting assistant — “The 39 Steps” didn’t find Hitchcock taking baby steps, but breaking into a sprint.

Meer info hier (IMDB)

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