Thursday, February 28, 2013

39 Facts: Step by Step

39 Facts & Figures about The 39 Steps

    1.    The 39 Steps was Peggy Ashcroft’s second film
    2.    Robert Donat was affectionately known as the Monte Cristo man
    3.    One of the film's major motifs is the confining, sexually-frustrating institution of marriage.
    4.    North by Northwest (1959) is widely considered Hitchcock’s "American Thirty-Nine Steps."
    5.    John Buchan’s official title was First Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, Oxfordshire
    6.    Hitchcock’s film was remade twice both in the UK: The Thirty-Nine Steps (1959), d. Ralph Thomas and The Thirty-Nine Steps (1978), d. Don Sharp
    7.    The 1978 version starred Robert Powell as Hannay.
    8.    The 39 Steps is only one of Buchan’s several works that feature the character Richard Hannay.
    9.    Madeleine Carroll from the Hitchcock film was the first in a notorious line of Hitchcock's female stars that later included Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren.
    10.    At the old Wembley Stadium, 39 steps needed to be climbed to reach the Royal Box and collect a winner’s trophy
    11.    The 1959 version of The 39 Steps has by far the most location filming of any of the three versions of the movie. Filming took place over a large portion of central Scotland albeit mostly in the Trossachs area.
    12.    The 39 Steps was Hitchcock’s first film with a classic theme that he modelled repeatedly for the remainder of his career.
    13.    Trains are a major theme in Hitchcock’s films: The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, Sabotage, North By Northwest and The 39 Steps.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Adapted by...

"One of the thrilling things about writing this (The 39 Steps) was the challenge of putting an entire movie on stage—complete with train chases, plane crashes, shadowy murders, beautiful spies, trillbied heavies, dastardly villains with little fingers missing, not to mention some of the most iconic moments in the history of cinema. There is much opportunity for comedy and satire here. But it's also a love story. A man and a woman who have never loved anyone, yet miraculously—through all the daredevil feats and derring- do—discover the beating of their own true hearts. That there's a reason to live and a reason to love. And above all a reason to look after each other and look after the world.
...Remember the story too. It's there behind the mayhem.

Barlow is the scriptwriter, as well as lead performer, in many National Theatre of Brent productions, in particular All the World's a Globe (1987), Desmond Olivier Dingle's Compleat Life and Works of William Shakespeare (1995) and The Arts and How They Was Done (2007). In non-Theatre of Brent performances, he wrote and played in the 4-part situation comedy for radio called The Patrick and Maureen Maybe Music Experience which ran for four weeks from January 1999.
He played the part of Om in the radio adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Small Gods (2006), which was adapted by Robin Brooks.


Barlow played Bob whose character was besotted with his co-star Imelda Staunton, having already overcome unrequited love for another character, called Sarah (initially mistaken as Jacinta) who delivered the sandwiches in Is it Legal? (1996–1998), and played the part of the vicar in Jam & Jerusalem. He has also written and directed his National Theatre of Brent material for television, and played the part of Max in series 2 and the 2004 special of Absolutely Fabulous.


Patrick Barlow wrote a stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps which premiered in June 2005 at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.[1] After revision, the play opened at London's Tricycle Theatre in August 2006,[2] and after a successful run transferred to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly in September 2006.[3] The play has also been performed on Broadway since early 2008, in Australia by the Melbourne Theatre Company in April 2008.[4] and in Wellington, New Zealand, by Circa Theatre in July/August 2009 and in Bancroft, Ontario by Blackfly Theatre in July 2011.

Selected filmography

Barlow wrote the script for The Young Visiters (sic) and had a cameo as the priest. His one-time Theatre of Brent partner Jim Broadbent co-starred with Hugh Laurie.
Most of his film work has been in small, cameo roles, for example:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It's my best Harris Tweed!

 For well over a century Harris Tweed has been woven with skill and care by CROFTERS in their own homes just as it is today. From the gentry of early 20th century high living to the catwalks and couturiers of today, Harris Tweed has long been the choice of the discerning.

The regions of  Lewis and Harris had long been known for the excellence of the weaving done there, but up to the middle of the nineteenth century, the cloth was produced mainly for home use or for local market.

Originally this handmade fabric was woven by crofters for familial use, ideal for protection against the colder climate of the North of Scotland. Surplus cloth was often traded or used as barter, eventually becoming a form of currency amongst the islanders. For example, it was not unusual for rents to be paid in blankets or lengths of cloth.

By the end of the 18th Century, the spinning of wool yarn from local raw materials was a staple industry for crofters. Finished handmade cloth was exported to the Scottish mainland and traded along with other commodities produced by the Islanders, such as dry hides, goat and deer skins.

The original name of the cloth was tweel, Scots for twill, it being woven in a twilled rather than a plain pattern. A traditional story has the name coming about almost by chance. Around 1830, a London merchant received a letter from a Hawick firm about some tweels. The London merchant misinterpreted the handwriting, understanding it to be a trade-name taken from the river Tweed that flows through the Scottish Borders. Subsequently the goods were advertised as Tweed, and the name has remained ever since.[3]

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cor, Blimey!

Professor Jordan:

“I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of leading you down the garden path. Or should it be ‘up’?”

And so we go down that path with Hitchcock as he misleads us all the way.  Just when we expect one thing he delivers another. 

The nefarious British Professor is not who we expect him to be and we are led down another garden path.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Oh, Crikey!

The 1.5 mile Forth Railway Bridge, the world’s first major steel bridge, with its gigantic girder spans of 1710 ft. ranks as one of the great feats of civilization. It was begun in 1883 and formally completed on 4 March 1890 when HRH Edward Prince of Wales tapped into place a ‘golden’ rivet.

Tancred–Arrol, constructed the bridge, robustly designed in the aftermath of the Tay Bridge disaster by civil engineers Sir John Fowler and Benjamin Baker. The balanced cantilever principle was adopted. The main crossing comprises tubular struts and lattice-girder ties in three double-cantilevers each connected by 345 ft. ‘suspended’ girder spans resting on the cantilever ends and secured by man-sized pins. The outside double-cantilever shoreward ends carry weights of about 1000 tons to counter-balance half the weight of the suspended span and live load.

At its peak, approximately 4,600 workers were employed in its construction. Initially, it was recorded that 57 lives were lost; however, after extensive research by local historians, the figure was increased to 63. Eight men were saved from drowning by boats positioned in the river under the working areas. Hundreds of workers were left crippled by serious accidents, and one log book of accidents and sickness had 26,000 entries. In 2005, a project was set up by the Queensferry History Group to establish a memorial to those workers who died during the bridge's construction. In North Queensferry, a decision was also made to set up memorial benches to commemorate those who died during the construction of both the rail and the road bridges, and to seek support for this project from Fife Council.

Today, the bridge, Scotland’s biggest ‘listed’ building, continues to form a vital artery in Network Rail's East Coast railway system; it carries 180 - 200 train movements per day.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Doing the Impossible

A shout out to our awesome Production team. On board right now....

Stage Manager.......Michele Booher Purosky
Sound.....................Matt Ottinger
Set Construction....Larry Savoie
Lighting.................Tim Fox
Properties...............Roger Nowland
Costumes...............Marge Hetherington
Special Effects.......Jack Hetherington
Dance sequence.....Roberta Otten
Dialect coach.........Connie Oesterle
Hair/Wigs...............Daniel Moore
                                                             Photographer...........Luke Pline

...and more to come

Much Ado about Nothing?


When is a herring actually a red herring?  It's been driving me crazy that in The 39 Steps, Hitchcock repeatedly references  herring and haddock to the point that I'm still obsessed by it.

I may have solved the mystery. Hitchcock invented the use of a red herring or McGuffin in his movies.

A Red Herring is something in a story that has no relevance to the story, except to make the audience wonder where it might fit into the plot later.

 Sometimes, the audience might not even notice it except as some background item or back-story, but usually it's predominant enough to make the viewer/reader think that it has something to do with solving the puzzle that will be revealed in time.

A McGuffin, explained Hitchcock, comes from a Scottish joke about someone basically telling another to "mind his own business." The first asks the second about the contents in a box or package, and the second explains that it's a McGuffin. "Whats a McGuffin?" "It's a Scottish lion trap" "but there are no lions in Scotland, "Well, then that's not a McGuffin, is it?" In other words - it's none of your business.

In actuality, a "Red Herring" is a real herring fish that, once smoked, gets red in color and has a heavy fishy scent, thus it's presence is obvious to anyone around. Sometimes a Red Herring in a movie is used just for fun, other times it's a serious point in the story's plot. And sometimes it means nothing at all.

Could haddock and herrings be a red herrings after all?