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Saturday, August 5th, 2017
Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps
Now playing through August 17th, 2017
This narrative of "Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps",
from Alley Theatre.org
ExxonMobil’s Summer Chills returns in July with the comedy thriller Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. Packed with nonstop laughs and over 150 eccentric characters (played by four actors) the play is about a man with an ordinary life who meets a woman with a strong accent who says she's a spy. When he takes her home, she is murdered. Soon, a mysterious organization called "The 39 Steps" is hot on the man's trail in a nationwide manhunt that climaxes in a death-defying finale. A riotous blend of virtuoso performances and wildly inventive stagecraft, The 39 Steps amounts to an unforgettable evening of pure pleasure. Mark Shanahan returns to the Alley to direct The 39 Steps.
“What ARE the Thirty-Nine Steps?”, cries Richard Hannay as the final reel of Alfred Hitchcock’s early masterpiece unspools.
The question is more loaded than Hannay might realize.Hitchcock’s film, on which Patrick Barlow's play is based, was released to
great acclaim in 1935 and would cement his reputation as one of Britain’s finest filmmakers. Many of the director’s favorite themes for Hitchcock aficionados can be found in this witty, suspenseful and often racy romantic spy-thriller.
In The 39 Steps, Hitchcock throws into his cauldron of storytelling a severe mistrust of authority, a hero wrongly accused of murder, a wild journey through dangerous landscapes, a generous helping of wry humor, an examination of the battle between the sexes and, of course, a beautiful Hitchcock Blonde. All are signature ideas Hitchcock would return to again
and again, notably in Young and Innocent, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Saboteur, North By Northwestand Frenzy, which owe more than their fair share to the plot machinations of The 39 Steps.
Along with screenwriter Charles Bennett, Hitchcock would reinventThe 39 Steps from the ground floor up, adding such memorable characters as music hall performer Mr. Memory and the mysterious and alluring Annabella Schmidt. Most important, Hitchcock and Bennett would add a love interest for Hannay. As played by Madeleine Carroll, Pamela proves to be a perfect foil for Robert Donat’s dashing Hannay. Hitchcock and Bennett knew that death defying escapes and sophisticated villains were important to their film, but it is safe to say that the movie is less concerned with the politics of war than it is with Hannay and Pamela’s budding romance. Though Pamela calls Hannay “horrible and heartless,” and Hannay is frustrated by this “buttoned headed little idiot,” it is clear from their first stolen kiss on a train what Hitchcock has in mind for them. Of course, saving England is merely a happy by-product of falling in love! Based on a 1914 novel by John Buchan, Hitchcock’s picture is markedly different than its source material. Hitchcock, an avid reader, had maintained that Buchan had “always been an influence” and admired his fiction greatly. The director recalled reading the book as a young man and determining that if “I ever became a filmmaker, I would make a picture of it.
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