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Film / The 39 Steps (2008)

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The 39 Steps is a TV movie done for the 2008 Christmas season by The BBC, starring Rupert Penry-Jones. It's an adaptation of John Buchan's novel The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Unlike the more famous earlier adaptation by Alfred Hitchcock, it keeps the novel's 1914 setting, but some liberties are taken to suit the 21st century idea of a proper spy thriller.

This TV Movie contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: The scene where Hannay is chased by a biplane features a 1916 model fighter plane, and the car chases feature vehicles from the 1920s; the film-makers' excuse was that cars actually available in 1914 didn't have the oomph for an exciting chase. Then there's the building Hannay lives in (post-War Art Deco architecture) and the train he catches (a 1920s locomotive pulling 1950s carriages).
  • Cool Guns: Scudder is armed with a Nagant M1895.
  • Disney Death: Victoria is apparently killed in the climactic fight, but the final scene reveals that she survived.
  • Homage: The scene with the plane is a homage to that other Alfred Hitchcock classic North By Northwest, which in turn owed much to Hitchcock's earlier adaptation of ... The Thirty-Nine Steps.
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  • Not His Sled: Unlike in the novel, the mysterious phrase "the 39 steps" refers to a flight of stairs leading down to a Scottish loch.
  • "Number of Objects" Title: The 39 steps, of course.
  • Shirtless Scene: It's got Rupert Penry-Jones in it, what do you expect?
  • Token Romance: Adds a romance with a young woman Hannay meets while he's on the run.