History Literature / TheThirtyNineSteps

12th Apr '16 8:43:34 PM PaulA
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* BunnyEarsLawyer: Scudder in ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' is a spy who, while very competent, believes in every anti-Semitic conspiracy theory under the sun. He ends up assassinated, showing the problems which come from pursuing false conspiracies and overlooking real ones, but he is still treated with respect by his colleagues prior to that.



* ImDyingPleaseTakeMyMacGuffin: Scudder

to:

* ImDyingPleaseTakeMyMacGuffin: ScudderImDyingPleaseTakeMyMacGuffin:
** Scudder and his notebook at the beginning of ''The Thirty-Nine Steps''.
** In ''Greenmantle'', a dying man staggers into a Kashnir outpost carrying a bit of paper on which is scrawled, 'Kasredin', 'v1' and 'cancer'. Cue race against time to decipher same.


Added DiffLines:


!!Adaptations with their own trope pages include:

* ''Film/{{The 39 Steps|1935}}'' - the 1935 Hitchcock film
* ''Film/The39Steps'' - other film adaptations
* ''Theatre/The39Steps'' - the comedic theater adaptation in which four actors play LoadsAndLoadsOfRoles

!!Other adaptations provide examples of:

* ForDoomTheBellTolls: The 1938 radio adaptation by The Mercury Theatre on the Air starts off with the ringing of heavy, ominous church bells as Richard Hannay, a murder suspect on the run from the police and enemy secret agents, is trying to catch a train.
* InMediasRes: The 1938 radio adaptation by The Mercury Theatre on the Air starts with Hannay already on the run. Later, Hannay recounts in a long flashback how things came to this.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: Ida Lupino, playing an Englishwoman in the 1937 radio adaptation by the Lux Radio Theatre.
12th Apr '16 7:58:08 PM PaulA
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Adapted [[Film/The39Steps four times for film]] (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, once for the stage, and several times for radio.

to:

Adapted [[Film/The39Steps four times for film]] (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, [[Theatre/The39Steps once for the stage, stage]], and several times for radio.
12th Apr '16 7:57:37 PM PaulA
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John Buchan was one of the world's first spy novelists, and did a similar job for the genre as Creator/JRRTolkien did for fantasy. ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' is his most famous work, published in 1915 and set during the run-up to WorldWarOne. It was a huge popular success and owed much to its 1903 predecessor, Erskine Childers' ''The Riddle Of The Sands'', and the adventure stories of Creator/HRiderHaggard. Buchan began his writing career as a journalist, but enlisted at the start of the First World War, working away from the front lines producing propaganda for the War Office. His experiences of the war, interwoven with a strong sense of national pride, a love of Africa and a belief in the strength of the British character, are themes in many of his novels.

to:

John Buchan was one of the world's first spy novelists, and did a similar job for the genre as Creator/JRRTolkien did for fantasy. ''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' is his most famous work, published in 1915 and set during the run-up to WorldWarOne.UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. It was a huge popular success and owed much to its 1903 predecessor, Erskine Childers' ''The Riddle Of The Sands'', and the adventure stories of Creator/HRiderHaggard. Buchan began his writing career as a journalist, but enlisted at the start of the First World War, War I, working away from the front lines producing propaganda for the War Office. His experiences of the war, interwoven with a strong sense of national pride, a love of Africa and a belief in the strength of the British character, are themes in many of his novels.



* ''Mr Standfast'': An old enemy reappears and in the last pivotal days of WorldWarOne on the Western Front, Hannay wages a battle of wits. ''Finally'' introduces a LoveInterest (she's worth the wait).
* ''The Three Hostages'': With WorldWarOne over, Sir Richard and Lady Hannay are enjoying a quiet life in the country, but when three young people are kidnapped and a mind-controlling genius starts [[CriminalMindGames leaving cryptic clues behind]], the pair of former spy-hunters have to go back to work.

to:

* ''Mr Standfast'': An old enemy reappears and in the last pivotal days of WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarI on the Western Front, Hannay wages a battle of wits. ''Finally'' introduces a LoveInterest (she's worth the wait).
* ''The Three Hostages'': With WorldWarOne UsefulNotes/WorldWarI over, Sir Richard and Lady Hannay are enjoying a quiet life in the country, but when three young people are kidnapped and a mind-controlling genius starts [[CriminalMindGames leaving cryptic clues behind]], the pair of former spy-hunters have to go back to work.



* WorldWarOne: ''The Thirty-nine Steps'' takes place in the run-up to the war, and both ''Greenmantle'' and ''Mr Standfast'' are set during the war.
12th Apr '16 7:51:56 PM PaulA
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[[quoteright:190:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the39steps_9818.jpg]]

What are the thirty-nine steps? A question that almost every adaptation answers differently.

to:

[[quoteright:190:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the39steps_9818.jpg]]

What
''The Thirty-Nine Steps'' is a thriller novel by John Buchan.

It's May 1914. Richard Hannay has just returned to London from Rhodesia. A man called Scudder meets him and tells him the tall tale of an international conspiracy determined to start a war. The conspirators
are on Scudder's track and his only hope is to stage his own suicide and lie low for a while. Hannay agrees to hide Scudder in his London flat, but a few days later Scudder is murdered there by enemy agents and Hannay realizes he will be accused of the thirty-nine steps? A question that almost every adaptation answers differently.
crime. Hunted by both policemen and enemy spies, Hannay takes to the Scottish moors in a desperate bid to stay one step ahead of the enemy until he can thwart their evil plans.



Unfortunately in later years he has not enjoyed similar popularity, though according to TheOtherWiki his works have been seeing a resurgence in more recent times.

Adapted four times for film (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, once for the stage, and several times for radio.

to:

Unfortunately in later years he has not enjoyed similar popularity, though according to TheOtherWiki his works have been seeing a resurgence in more recent times.

Adapted [[Film/The39Steps four times for film film]] (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, once for the stage, and several times for radio.




[[AC:The sequels are:]]
* ''Greenmantle'': Hannay and four friends make their way through wartime Europe to Turkey, searching for the truth behind the rumours of a German secret weapon that could throw the entire Muslim world into the war on the Germans' side. Sometimes considered to be one of the best books Buchan ever wrote; Hitchcock wanted to film it for years but never got around to it.
* ''Mr Standfast'': An old enemy reappears and in the last pivotal days of WorldWarOne on the Western Front, Hannay wages a battle of wits. ''Finally'' introduces a LoveInterest (she's worth the wait).
* ''The Three Hostages'': With WorldWarOne over, Sir Richard and Lady Hannay are enjoying a quiet life in the country, but when three young people are kidnapped and a mind-controlling genius starts [[CriminalMindGames leaving cryptic clues behind]], the pair of former spy-hunters have to go back to work.
* ''The Island of Sheep'': Set roughly fourteen years after ''The Three Hostages''. Hannay and his son Peter John Hannay have to protect an old friend from fortune-hunters.



'''The original novel'''

It's May 1914. Richard Hannay has just returned to London from Rhodesia. A man called Scudder meets him and tells him the tall tale of an international conspiracy determined to start a war. The conspirators are on Scudder's track and his only hope is to stage his own suicide and lie low for a while. Hannay agrees to hide Scudder in his London flat, but a few days later Scudder is murdered there by enemy agents and Hannay realizes he will be accused of the crime. Hunted by both policemen and enemy spies, Hannay takes to the Scottish moors in a desperate bid to stay one step ahead of the enemy until he can thwart their evil plans.

In this original version, the 39 steps are [[spoiler: steps down to the sea which identify a villa along a stretch of the Kent coast where the final confrontation with the German agents takes place]].


[[AC:The sequels are:]]
* ''Greenmantle'': Hannay and four friends make their way through wartime Europe to Turkey, searching for the truth behind the rumours of a German secret weapon that could throw the entire Muslim world into the war on the Germans' side. Sometimes considered to be one of the best books Buchan ever wrote; Hitchcock wanted to film it for years but never got around to it.
* ''Mr Standfast'': An old enemy reappears and in the last pivotal days of WorldWarOne on the Western Front, Hannay wages a battle of wits. ''Finally'' introduces a LoveInterest (she's worth the wait).
* ''The Three Hostages'': With WorldWarOne over, Sir Richard and Lady Hannay are enjoying a quiet life in the country, but when three young people are kidnapped and a mind-controlling genius starts [[CriminalMindGames leaving cryptic clues behind]], the pair of former spy-hunters have to go back to work.
* ''The Island of Sheep'': Set roughly fourteen years after ''The Three Hostages''. Hannay and his son Peter John Hannay have to protect an old friend from fortune-hunters.
----



----
'''The 1935 Creator/AlfredHitchcock film has [[Film/The39Steps1935 its own page]].'''
----
'''The 1959 film'''

Colour remake of the Hitchcock film, starring Kenneth More, moving the setting to the 1950s and changing the secrets to [[spoiler:plans for a British ballistic missile]]. Nobody really remembers this one. In this version, the 39 steps [[spoiler:are again a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets]].

This film contains examples of:
* TheCameo: (a lot of them)
* CoolTrain: The LNER again plays a role in the remake, this time providing a [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Peterborough_North_3_geograph-2284111-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg streamlined A4 Pacific.]]
* [[spoiler: UltimateDefenceOfTheRealm]]
----
'''The 1978 film'''

A more faithful adaptation of the novel, moving the setting back to 1914. This one is best remembered for Robert Powell, playing Hannay, hanging off the minute hand of the clock on [[ClockTower St. Stephen's Tower]] (aka Big Ben). Also has a love interest. The 39 steps are [[spoiler: a flight of stairs in the clock tower of the palace of Westminster, better known as 'Big Ben' (this name actually refers to the bell in the tower rather than the tower itself)]].

Inspired a TV series, ''Hannay'', also starring Robert Powell in adventures not based on any of Buchan's other novels.
----
'''The 2006 play'''

A four-actor comedic theatrical adaptation of the Hitchcock film, which has been shown in the West End and Broadway. To give an idea of the style, the Forth Bridge train is a model train on a track at the back of the stage and pretty much everyone plays at least a dozen roles. In this version, the 39 steps [[spoiler:are again a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets]].

!!!This play contains:

* BreakingTheFourthWall: [[{{NoFourthWall}} All. The. Time.]]
* IdiotBall: The stile scene.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfRoles: Four actors play every role in the movie, sometimes having to play two characters in the same scene. Traditionally it's one actor for the main character, one actress for all the attractive women, and two other actors for ''everything else''. [[spoiler: Scenery not excluded.]]
* ShoutOut: To Film/NorthByNorthwest, The Alfred Hitchcock Show, and pretty much every other Creator/AlfredHitchcock work.
** "Through the door?" No! Through the Film/RearWindow!!"
** Lampshaded in one instance when two characters come to a ladder and the woman won't go up. "Why no- oh, [[CollectiveGroan don't tell me]]. ''[[spoiler: Film/{{Vertigo}}.]]''"
* ThoseTwoGuys: Because there are only two guys other than Hannay, this pops up a lot. Examples include the underwear salesmen, the police officers, the heavies, the Sheriff and Chief Inspector, Dunwoody and [=McQuarrie=], and Compere and Mr. Memory.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Hannay initially mistakes the Scottish farmer's wife for his ''daughter''.
----
'''The 2008 [[MadeForTVMovie TV Movie]]'''

For the 2008 Christmas season, Creator/TheBBC did another adaptation of the book, but added another love interest and moved the setting very slightly forward (it's now June 1914). The 39 steps are [[spoiler:steps leading down to a Scottish loch]].

Rupert Penry-Jones (Adam Carter in ''{{Spooks}}'') plays Hannay in this one.

!!!This [[MadeForTVMovie TV Movie]] contains examples of:
* [[spoiler: DisneyDeath: Victoria]]
* {{Homage}}: The scene with the plane is a homage to that other Creator/AlfredHitchcock classic ''Film/NorthByNorthWest'', even though it's...
* JustPlaneWrong: Hannay is chased by an aircraft not in service in 1914
* ShirtlessScene: It's got [[MrFanservice Rupert Penry-Jones]] in it, what do you expect?
10th Apr '16 9:08:05 AM Josef5678
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* ThoseTwoGuys: Because there are only two guys other than Hannay, this pops up a lot. Examples include the underwear salesmen, the police officers, the heavies, the Sheriff and Chief Inspector, Dunwoody and McQuarrie, and Compere and Mr. Memory.

to:

* ThoseTwoGuys: Because there are only two guys other than Hannay, this pops up a lot. Examples include the underwear salesmen, the police officers, the heavies, the Sheriff and Chief Inspector, Dunwoody and McQuarrie, [=McQuarrie=], and Compere and Mr. Memory.
6th Nov '15 8:15:26 PM nombretomado
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** "Through the door?" No! Through the RearWindow!!"

to:

** "Through the door?" No! Through the RearWindow!!"Film/RearWindow!!"
30th Sep '15 9:01:02 PM PaulA
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Adapted four times for film, once for TV, once for the stage, and at least once for radio.

to:

Adapted four times for film, film (including [[Film/The39Steps1935 once by Hitchcock]]), once for TV, once for the stage, and at least once several times for radio.



'''The 1935 Creator/AlfredHitchcock film'''

A loose adaptation of the book, moving the setting to the 1930s, turning Hannay into a Canadian (a possible nod to original author Buchan being made Governor-General of Canada in 1935), Scudder into a female spy of Central European origin and changing the nature of the secrets (a formula for a silent aircraft engine). Starring Robert Donat, it also adds a love interest to the story. In this version the 39 steps are a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets.

This is the best known version.

!!!This film contains examples of:
* AdaptationDistillation - Hitchcock addressed the biggest flaw of the novel's plot: In the novel Hannay heads to the Scottish countryside to hide from both the police and the foreign agents pursuing him in London, and out of sheer bad luck walks right into his enemy's headquarters. The film gives a reason why Hannay heads right to the enemy's stronghold.
* AlmostDeadGuy: Annabella makes it back to Richard's room and manages to tell him to run before keeling over with a knife in her back.
* AnonymousRinger: The unnamed country is pretty clearly meant to be Germany. For one thing, the only two countries that call their foreign ministry an "Office" are the UK and Germany.
* ArcNumber: The numbers 3 and 5 appear quite frequently. A couple examples include the numbers 5 and 10 (5 x 2) appearing in the corners of the film, the title being "39" (3 and 3 x 9, or 3 x 13), and the scenes being roughly 3 - 5 minutes in length. The significance is not present in the film itself, but a theme of bread and fish is seen throughout the film as an alleged reference to The Bible, where Jesus Christ takes 3 fish and loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people.
* BrandishmentBluff: Richard tells Pamela that the tobacco pipe in his coat pocket is a gun.
* ChainedHeat: Only for a couple of scenes, though. Pamela and Richard have been handcuffed together by the bad guys, but manage to escape. They make their way to a hotel, where they have to conceal the fact that they are cuffed to each other. Pamela manages to work her smaller hand out of the cuffs that night.
* ChekhovsGunman / ChekhovsSkill: Mr. Memory is performing at the vaudeville hall where Richard meets Annabella in the opening scene. It seems like an espionage version of MeetCute. Then in the last scene Mr. Memory pops up again, and Richard realizes that Memory is working for the 39 Steps and has memorized the secret information.
* ClearMyName: Richard has to prove he didn't murder Annabella.
* CoolTrain: The London and North Eastern Railway's [[http://ukrailways1970tilltoday.me.uk/Doncaster_openday_A3_2003.jpg Flying Scotsman]], as shown in the film poster.
* CreatorCameo: As required in an Alfred Hitchcock film. Here he is seen taking out a cigarette and throwing the empty pack on the ground as Richard and Annabella board a bus.
* DeadpanSnarker: Hannay, like when Pamela refuses to believe he's innocent, so he instead invents a whole criminal career.
* DreamMelody: Richard can't get a jingle out of his head. He realizes at the end that it's Mr. Memory's stage music.
* FakeOutMakeOut: Subverted. The police are hunting for Richard on the train. He dives into Pamela's cabin and kisses her in an effort to hide his face. She then turns him in.
* HumanHardDrive: How the 39 Steps are getting the information out of the country, by having Mr. Memory memorize it.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Richard's reaction to Annabella's tale of espionage.
--> "A beautiful mysterious woman pursued by a gunman? Sounds like a spy story."
* MacGuffin: In true Hitchcock fashion, it's something that isn't really explained very much--"a secret vital to your air defense", apparently a silent plane engine.
* MatchCut: From a cleaning lady screaming after finding Annabella's corpse to a train whistle's shriek.
* MistakenForSpecialGuest / PushedInFrontOfTheAudience: Richard, running from the cops, dives into a building. He winds up on the stage at a political rally, where he's mistaken for the guest speaker. He gives a RousingSpeech.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Robert Donat starts out trying to sound Canadian. By the end, not so much.
* PocketProtector: Hannay is shot square in the chest by the bad guy, but he's saved by the Bible that was in his coat's pocket.
* ScienceMarchesOn: The secret being smuggled out is implied to be a silent bomber engine, useful at a time when the only means of detecting attacking bombers was [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_location acoustic location]]. As it happened though there really ''was'' a secret being protected at the time that would make such an invention obsolete -- radar.
* SmithicalMarriage: Pamela and Richard have to pretend they are married to get a room in an inn.

to:

'''The 1935 Creator/AlfredHitchcock film'''

A loose adaptation of the book, moving the setting to the 1930s, turning Hannay into a Canadian (a possible nod to original author Buchan being made Governor-General of Canada in 1935), Scudder into a female spy of Central European origin and changing the nature of the secrets (a formula for a silent aircraft engine). Starring Robert Donat, it also adds a love interest to the story. In this version the 39 steps are a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets.

This is the best known version.

!!!This
film contains examples of:
* AdaptationDistillation - Hitchcock addressed the biggest flaw of the novel's plot: In the novel Hannay heads to the Scottish countryside to hide from both the police and the foreign agents pursuing him in London, and out of sheer bad luck walks right into his enemy's headquarters. The film gives a reason why Hannay heads right to the enemy's stronghold.
* AlmostDeadGuy: Annabella makes it back to Richard's room and manages to tell him to run before keeling over with a knife in her back.
* AnonymousRinger: The unnamed country is pretty clearly meant to be Germany. For one thing, the only two countries that call their foreign ministry an "Office" are the UK and Germany.
* ArcNumber: The numbers 3 and 5 appear quite frequently. A couple examples include the numbers 5 and 10 (5 x 2) appearing in the corners of the film, the title being "39" (3 and 3 x 9, or 3 x 13), and the scenes being roughly 3 - 5 minutes in length. The significance is not present in the film itself, but a theme of bread and fish is seen throughout the film as an alleged reference to The Bible, where Jesus Christ takes 3 fish and loaves of bread to feed 5,000 people.
* BrandishmentBluff: Richard tells Pamela that the tobacco pipe in his coat pocket is a gun.
* ChainedHeat: Only for a couple of scenes, though. Pamela and Richard have been handcuffed together by the bad guys, but manage to escape. They make their way to a hotel, where they have to conceal the fact that they are cuffed to each other. Pamela manages to work her smaller hand out of the cuffs that night.
* ChekhovsGunman / ChekhovsSkill: Mr. Memory is performing at the vaudeville hall where Richard meets Annabella in the opening scene. It seems like an espionage version of MeetCute. Then in the last scene Mr. Memory pops up again, and Richard realizes that Memory is working for the 39 Steps and
has memorized the secret information.
* ClearMyName: Richard has to prove he didn't murder Annabella.
* CoolTrain: The London and North Eastern Railway's [[http://ukrailways1970tilltoday.me.uk/Doncaster_openday_A3_2003.jpg Flying Scotsman]], as shown in the film poster.
* CreatorCameo: As required in an Alfred Hitchcock film. Here he is seen taking out a cigarette and throwing the empty pack on the ground as Richard and Annabella board a bus.
* DeadpanSnarker: Hannay, like when Pamela refuses to believe he's innocent, so he instead invents a whole criminal career.
* DreamMelody: Richard can't get a jingle out of his head. He realizes at the end that it's Mr. Memory's stage music.
* FakeOutMakeOut: Subverted. The police are hunting for Richard on the train. He dives into Pamela's cabin and kisses her in an effort to hide his face. She then turns him in.
* HumanHardDrive: How the 39 Steps are getting the information out of the country, by having Mr. Memory memorize it.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Richard's reaction to Annabella's tale of espionage.
--> "A beautiful mysterious woman pursued by a gunman? Sounds like a spy story."
* MacGuffin: In true Hitchcock fashion, it's something that isn't really explained very much--"a secret vital to your air defense", apparently a silent plane engine.
* MatchCut: From a cleaning lady screaming after finding Annabella's corpse to a train whistle's shriek.
* MistakenForSpecialGuest / PushedInFrontOfTheAudience: Richard, running from the cops, dives into a building. He winds up on the stage at a political rally, where he's mistaken for the guest speaker. He gives a RousingSpeech.
* OohMeAccentsSlipping: Robert Donat starts out trying to sound Canadian. By the end, not so much.
* PocketProtector: Hannay is shot square in the chest by the bad guy, but he's saved by the Bible that was in his coat's pocket.
* ScienceMarchesOn: The secret being smuggled out is implied to be a silent bomber engine, useful at a time when the only means of detecting attacking bombers was [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustic_location acoustic location]]. As it happened though there really ''was'' a secret being protected at the time that would make such an invention obsolete -- radar.
* SmithicalMarriage: Pamela and Richard have to pretend they are married to get a room in an inn.
[[Film/The39Steps1935 its own page]].'''
1st Jul '15 10:39:14 PM Herbieriffer
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* CoolTrain: The London and North Eastern Railway's [[http://ukrailways1970tilltoday.me.uk/Doncaster_openday_A3_2003.jpg Flying Scotsman]], as shown in the film poster.



* TheCameo (a lot of them)

to:

* TheCameo TheCameo: (a lot of them)them)
* CoolTrain: The LNER again plays a role in the remake, this time providing a [[https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/64/Peterborough_North_3_geograph-2284111-by-Ben-Brooksbank.jpg streamlined A4 Pacific.]]
13th Mar '15 11:44:45 AM mlsmithca
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A loose adaptation of the book, moving the setting to the 1930s, turning Hannay into a Canadian (a possible nod to original author Buchan being made Governor-General of Canada in 1935), Scudder into a female spy of Central European origin and changing the nature of the secrets (a formula for a silent aircraft engine). Starring Robert Donnat, it also adds a love interest to the story. In this version the 39 steps are a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets.

to:

A loose adaptation of the book, moving the setting to the 1930s, turning Hannay into a Canadian (a possible nod to original author Buchan being made Governor-General of Canada in 1935), Scudder into a female spy of Central European origin and changing the nature of the secrets (a formula for a silent aircraft engine). Starring Robert Donnat, Donat, it also adds a love interest to the story. In this version the 39 steps are a ring of foreign spies intent on stealing military secrets.
5th Jan '15 11:36:33 AM TheUnsquished
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For the 2008 Christmas season, TheBBC did another adaptation of the book, but added another love interest and moved the setting very slightly forward (it's now June 1914). The 39 steps are [[spoiler:steps leading down to a Scottish loch]].

to:

For the 2008 Christmas season, TheBBC Creator/TheBBC did another adaptation of the book, but added another love interest and moved the setting very slightly forward (it's now June 1914). The 39 steps are [[spoiler:steps leading down to a Scottish loch]].
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Literature.TheThirtyNineSteps