Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Hey, that's swell."

BRITAIN IN 1935 Alfred Hitchcock’s THE 39 STEPS takes place in 1935. Just what was happening in the United Kingdom that year?

February 26........In Daventry, Robert Watson-Watt first
                              demonstrates the use of radar.
March 12 ............Speed limit in built-up areas reduced
                              to 30 m.p.h.
May 6 .................Silver Jubilee celebrations for King                               George V.
May 31  ..............The driving test becomes required    
June 7 .................Ramsay MacDonald retires;  Stanley Baldwin  takes over as Prime Minister.
June 18 ...............Anglo-German Naval Agreement: Britain
                               agrees to a German navy equal to 35% of her
                               own naval tonnage.
June  ...................Alfred Hitchcock's film The 39 Steps released
                               in the U.K.
July 12 ................Rioting breaks out in Belfast following Orange parades; by the end of
                               August, eight Protestants and five Catholics have been killed, hundreds
                               injured and over 2,000 homes destroyed (almost all Catholic).
July 30 ................Allen Lane founds Penguin Books to publish the fi rst mass market
                                paperbacks in Britain.
September 12 .....An underground explosion at North
                               Gawber (Lidgett) colliery, Barnsley,
                               South Yorkshire, kills nineteen.
October ..............First steel produced from new works at
October 8  ..........Clement Attlee is appointed as interim
                              leader of the Labour Party in succession
                              to George Lansbury.
November 4  ......Opening of Hornsey Town Hall,
                              London, designed by Reginald Uren,
                              the first major U.K. building in the
                              International style.
November 6  ......Maiden fl ight of the Royal Air Force’s
                               Hawker Hurricane fi ghter aircraft.
November 14 ......In the General Election, Prime Minister
                               Stanley Baldwin is returned to offi ce at
                                the head of a National Government led
                                by the Conservative Party with a large
                                but reduced majority.
November 26 ......–In the Labour Party leadership
                                 election, Clement Attlee is confirmed
                              as leader.
                           – Release of Scrooge, the first all-
                            talking full-length film version of
                            Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol,
                            with Sir Seymour Hicks in the title role.
December 10 ......James Chadwick wins the Nobel Prize
                             in Physics for the discovery of the

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hitchcock: Master of Suspense

Hitchcock's Methods for Suspense

In his more than 60 years of filmmaking,
Hitchcock (1899-1980) specialized in tales
of intrigue, be they murder mysteries or
suspenseful tales of adventure or psychological
revelation. His techniques for building tension
are renowned:

• a man on the run, often an innocent man
• an icy blonde—who may change
temperature when aroused by danger
• perspective shots that parallel a person's
• framing shots to heighten fear and
manipulate audience emotion
• chase scenes, often including a landmark
(in this film, the Forth Bridge over the Firth
of Forth north of Edinburgh, Scotland
• restricted spaces or train journeys
• zoom shots, crosscutting, and montages
• endings with a twist
• decoy elements or "MacGuffins" that seem
to be crucial to the plot (critics consider the
MacGuffin in The 39 Steps to be the stolen
design plans)
• withholding information

In his films, he often cast actors against
type, especially Cary Grant and James Stewart
who each made four films with
Hitchcock. Among his leading ladies were Ingrid
 Bergman and Grace Kelly, who made three films
each with Hitchcock.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Congratulations to the Cast of The 39 Steps:

Richard Hannay                           Joe Baumann
Margaret/Pamela/Annabella        Amy Winchell
Clown 1                                       Scott Laban
Clown 2                                       Bob Purosky

Monday, January 7, 2013

Page to Stage

John Buchan, the author of The 39 Steps, 
was  a  man  of  many  interests.    Born  in 
Scotland, he lived between 1875‐1940.  He 
also  lived  in  England  before  moving  to 
Canada  and  becoming  Canada’s  Governor 
General in 1935.   
Buchan wrote for his own pleasure and by 
the end of his life, amassed more than 100 
works.    He  used  his  experiences  and 
interests to inspire his writing.  The 39 Steps 
was  as  written  over  two  years  (1914‐15) 
while Buchan was recovering from an ulcer.  
Prior to this illness, Buchan was involved in 
the war effort – in secret intelligence work.  
He  also  worked  as  a  war  correspondent 
where he met the man who would inspire 
character Richard Hannay – the protagonist 
of The 39 Steps.  Hannay’s character would 
reappear in other novels by Buchan.   
The  novel,  set 
before  the 
Second  World 
War,  tells  the 
story  of  Hannay 
who finds mself 
on the run from a 
group of German 
spies  after  he 
uncovers  their 
secret  plot.  
There  are  no 
female characters in the novel, something 
changed by Hitchcock when he adapted the 
story for his film version.