First things first, Hitchcock's 'The 39 Steps' is and always will be a
classic of the British cinema and Ralph Thomas's remake (it's
unashamedly a remake, rather than an adaptation of the novel) fails to
equal it. However, once you get past that fact, on its own terms this
is rather an enjoyable little movie.
Kenneth More is one of my favourite performers, perhaps not the
greatest actor in the world, but one who has a charismatic personality.
If he doesn't quite equal Robert Donat's original 'Richard Hannay', he
comes close and invests the role with genuine warmth. Taina Elg's
foreign heroine however, though very attractive is no Madeleine Carroll
and is perhaps the movie's weakest link.
The stars are backed up by a splendid cast of familiar British
character actors, ranging from Sid James's cameo as a truck driver, to
Brenda De Banzie's turn as a friendly, man-hungry roadside caf.
a very English 39 Steps
Seeing Kenneth More on a cast list generally means you're getting
something of strong English stock, very stiff upper lip but with a
touch of humour, and that is exactly what we have here.
Our story starts when a nanny drops a rattle, and ends - as the classic
Hitchcock thriller does - with Mr Memory at the music hall. Between we
have a romp across Scotland with More and Taina Elg, and lots of
Nothing special, and a little bit colourless, this 39 Steps is a
time-filler, nothing more. Donat and Carroll had sex appeal, but that's
missing here. The Robert Powell version, although good, is mainly
remembered for the Big Ben finale, which at least gave something
different to the tale..