Tone, in novels and films, has always been a make-or-break affair: In a work with thousands of parts, the wrong word in the wrong place, or the wrong image at the wrong time, can unravel the emotive state the storyteller is trying to induce in the audience. Balancing two different tones together in one work is an even greater challenge, especially when the thrilling and suspenseful is being mixed with the carefree and jokey. Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps attempts just that, and succeeds for reasons that are well worth examining.
Tag: The 39 Steps
By Amy Tetreault
The 39 Steps – dir. Alfred Hitchcock – 1935
It began with the 1915 spy novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, written by John Buchan. Then came the 1935 Hitchcock film, The 39 Steps, loosely based on Buchan’s novel. And then came more film versions, including one that’s “in production,” according to IMDB. Oh, and don’t forget about “The 39 Steps” Broadway show. It’s described as a mixture of Hitchcock, a juicy spy novel and Monty Python.
And although I haven’t seen the Broadshow show . . .
And I haven’t read Buchan’s original novel . . .
And I haven’t seen all the remakes . . .
I’m gonna go ahead and say that Hitchcock’s version is the my favorite. And not just because of the great camera angles, witty dialogue, and fascinating characters.