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Thread: The 39 Steps

  1. #41
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    Very pleased to see so many people here speaking up for the Kenneth More version. I thought I was the only one in the world who preferred it.



    There's another -- quite consciously, in fact self-consciously -- Hannayish edge-of-the-seat conspiracy-minded one-damned-thing-after-another adventure story available on DVD, the 1990 British TV production "Never Come Back," based on a thriller that was written by a young writer who died in World War II in the RAF and that was actually reviewed, sort of favorably, by George Orwell. Unfortunately, though it references John Buchan, it isn't terribly good, and the hero, played by Nathaniel Parker, isn't very appealing.

  2. #42
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    Last October, my mum and myself spent a week in London. We saw four theatre productions and by far and way the best - and the one which had the least spent on it in set design - was the 39 Steps at the Criterion in Piccadilly Circus.

    With only four actors playing all the oparts, and an inventive and ingenious use of the barest minimum of props and sets, it was rollicking good fun.

    Not long ago, I saw a bit of the Kenneth More version and the stage play seemed very close to it.
    It's a brilliant play (it's won awards and everything) .... it openly acknowledges it is based on Hitchcock's film of which the More version is a straightforward remake.

  3. #43
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    Still love the Robert Powell version.

  4. #44
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    Love all three versions - can't really decide whether the Donat or More version is the best.

  5. #45
    GRAEME
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    Just been reading about the new TV version that's on BBC1 on the 28th December.



    So, another version with a love interest! This time a sexy suffragette, b'gad!



    The lack of any real female characters is one of the many serious flaws with the book - the other is the really lame ending. So I'm guessing they'll have changed that too, again.



    And what do we think the "39 Steps" will be this time? Three film versions = three different 39 Steps. I'm willing to put money on them not being 39 steps down from a house to the sea, however....

  6. #46
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    The Hitchcock version is my fave but I also have a liking for Robert Powell's attempt

  7. #47
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    I watched the new version last night. Not bad, but either it strays a long way from the book (which I haven't read), or the earlier Kenny More version departs from the book. The "39 Steps" isn't even mentioned until the last half hour and they turn out to be steps down to a beach in Scotland. What happened to the 39 Steps down to the Thames (More version)?



    A couple of very obvious mistakes: The railway scenes are supposed to depict the Caledonian Railway, but for some obscure reason the locomotive was painted green. A definite booboo. The second mistake was that the railway track was single line in every shot, but it would have been double track, even then (1914). And finally, where did they get the German submarine, as it definitely didn't look CGIed?

  8. #48
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    they turn out to be steps down to a beach
    That's what they are in the book. Apart from the Harold Lloyd ending ... the closest film to the book is the Robert Powell version. I haven't watched last night's so I cannot pass comment as yet. The VHS is primed for tonight.

  9. #49
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    Re the ralway scene - the usual mess made by film producers. We were supposed to be travelling up the East coast main line through York, yet we managed to find ourselves in some Caledonian railway coaches which would never have been south of the border. To confuse the issue further the train was pulled by an LNER locomotive which had not even been built when the action took place!



    To clarify, much of the filming was done in Scotland and the locomotive LNER No 246 Morayshire and the Caledonian coaches are based at the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at Boness in Scotland hence the single track line. The station was Birkhill.



    Re the submarine we never got close ups of this. Is there not a way now whereby we can film and then insert a background using computer technology? As far as I know whilst there are quite a few submarines preserved none are seaworthy at least not to the extent of submersing.



    Jolly good drama nevertheless even if it strayed somewhat from previous versions.

  10. #50
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    johng,



    Thanks for the clarification on the railway scenes.



    As far as the submarine is concerned, I couldn't see and 'joins'. But you're right, I'm sure there is no preserved submarine in the UK of that age which is capable of submerging.

  11. #51
    GRAEME
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    That's what they are in the book.
    Not really. Steps down to the sea from a cliff on the coast, actually. And not in Scotland.



    The worse excess is the usual girl character - this time who turns out to be Wonder Woman with built-in aqua lung and immunity from gunshot!

  12. #52
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    Steps down to the sea from a cliff on the coast, actually.
    That's pretty pedantic ..... they were steps on the coast.

  13. #53
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    That's pretty pedantic ..... they were steps on the coast.
    Maybe - but very different to a jetty by a loch in Scotland nonetheless.

  14. #54
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    Maybe - but very different to a jetty by a loch in Scotland nonetheless.
    I haven't watched the new version yet, I was trying to ascertain that the ending appears to be closer to the book than the other versions, although I haven't watched it yet.

  15. #55
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    I haven't watched the new version yet, I was trying to ascertain that the ending appears to be closer to the book than the other versions, although I haven't watched it yet.
    I'll be very interested in what you make of it!

  16. #56
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    I think my fave version is the Kenneth More 50's film version (Thank you Bats!) in colour with all the glorious highland scenery and plenty of twists and turns, loved the scenes in the Girls School!



    Didn't reckon much on Rupert Penry-Jones version, re: the Railway scenes with the marble tiles at the London terminus, it definitely wasn't Kings Cross!

  17. #57
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    I'll be very interested in what you make of it!
    I am looking forward to watching it later tonight ...... each new version is unfavourably compared to the others (especially the More version) but I like all of them.

  18. #58
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    I am looking forward to watching it later tonight ...... each new version is unfavourably compared to the others (especially the More version) but I like all of them.
    Except this version ....



    Very disappointing production. The production values were high (although lacking the scope of a feature) but the direction was uninspired, the acting woeful, the script dire and the less said about the ludicrous ending the better.



    Penry-Jones was wooden and bland as Hannay and Lydia Leonard irritating in the extreme as the 'suffragette', her character being so unrealistic and obviously intended as some kind of 'statement'. Even Mrs Bat (not one to suffer chauvinistic attitudes) had to cry "why do that have to try and make women appear equal in an age when they weren't".



    It struck me as a 'by the numbers' effort .... tick all the boxes to satisfy the fans of the films asap, stick in the pro-feminist propaganda and then slap on some cornball romance for good measure.



    I'm afraid this one will not be joining the other three versions on my dvd shelf.

  19. #59
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    Mark O,



    As is usual today in period drama, although I've no evidence whatsoever, I bet the London Terminus was filmed in Prague or Budapest or somewhere similar.

  20. #60
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    There was an article in this week's "Mail on Sunday", slating the inaccuracies in the film. Cars of the wrong period, aircraft which did not see service until 2 years after the action took place, incorrect railway details (as I mentioned earlier), submarine surfacing on a landlocked fresh water loch, etc. etc.

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