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Yes, to both. The plan is to see the 1979 version tonight; the '90s version is on request at the library, but hopefully I can get it for tomorrow. I may even see an episode or two of the TV series 'Hannay', if I get a chance.

I've never read any Buchan, so I can't vouch for how faithful any of these films are against the source, although at the moment I'm more interested in how well they stack up against Hitchcock.
(04-25-2018, 02:03 PM)Neglify Wrote: [ -> ]All this talk about Hitch's "Man Who Knew Too Much" made me remember I made a list about Directors Who Remade Their Own Films. It was fascinating to research, check it out.

That's very cool. Gotta check some of those out sometime.
(04-25-2018, 02:03 PM)Neglify Wrote: [ -> ]All this talk about Hitch's "Man Who Knew Too Much" made me remember I made a list about Directors Who Remade Their Own Films. It was fascinating to research, check it out.

Interesting list. I got the J'Accuse' (1938) blu-ray a while back but haven't watched it yet. I'm going to watch 'Destry Rides Again' soon and have it on a James Stewart Western boxset.

Arguably Hitchcock loosely remade his "wrong man on the run" type thriller many, many times.
BONUS: 'The Thirty Nine Steps' [1978]
Source: DVD

I'm going to assume that this version is possibly the most faithful to its source novel so far, on account of the fact that it bears no resemblance to the two earlier adaptations. Assume, as I have never read Buchan's work. Unfortunately, in this case, most faithful also equates to least interesting.

So, no Mr. Memory and no handcuffing to beautiful yet reluctant women in this rather sombre affair. The only similarities, baring obvious ones like the main character's name and his being chased through Scotland, are the train sequence and the political rally. Even then, Hitchcock's original surpasses them. Here, Hannay leaves the train when it is stopped abruptly on a bridge (no escaping through the door of a speeding carriage), and the political rally is played straight-faced all the way. You could argue that there are a couple of nods to Hitchcock hidden in this version (Hannay's cursing is drowned out and cut to a train whistle, and he is later buzzed by a small plane as he runs across the moors, a la 'North by Northwest'), but otherwise it is very much its own version.

That's not a reason to dismiss it, of course, for it can also be dismissed on its own merits too, or lack of them. Robert Powell may be an adequate actor, but I never believed in him in this role. He looked too much like an accountant rather than a man who had spent years roughing it in South Africa and so more than up for the challenges he faces here. Would he be so comfortable donning disguises, dodging the police and known killers, putting his life in jeopardy more than once? I didn't buy it.

That said, there are two things in its favour. One is that the 39 steps actually mean something, rather than the name of a shadowy organization, and form a clue that must be deduced. And, more famously, the climax on the face of Big Ben is well-done, or at least close-up; long shots are much less effective. It takes a long time to get to these thrills, and I wonder how many people would consider it worth the effort. 

I watched a UK DVD and it looked fine for the most part, although early darker shots were muddy.
Received this in the the post today:

[Image: IMG_20180426_220500.jpg]

A lovely surprise present from my brother. Looks like I'm destined to join you on your trip, Garp!
(04-26-2018, 11:42 AM)Garp Wrote: [ -> ]I'm going to assume that this version is possibly the most faithful to its source novel so far, on account of the fact that it bears no resemblance to the two earlier adaptations.... 

...no Mr. Memory...

Its been years since I've read it, but I know that Mr. Memory was an invention for the Hitchcock version and has nothing to do with the book.
BONUS: 'The 39 Steps' [2008]
Source: DVD

This BBC adaptation is much closer in plot to the 1978 version but feels closer in tone to Hitchcock all the same. Rupert Penry-Jones plays a much more convincing Hannay in a style that suggests a long audition for the next James Bond. He is paired with Lydia Leonard playing a feisty Suffragette, resulting in some lively banter which is either fun or cliched, depending on your level of charity.

The political rally is back (better than the 1978 version, but only marginally), as is the biplane, as well as Hitchcock's drying off scene in the inn. The 39 steps themselves get another meaning imposed on them (the least interesting interpretation, but it's an inconsequential plot point), but there are added twists and turns of which Hitch himself may well have approved (plus a reinterpretation of one he incorporated). Hannay even gets to show off some of his South African mining expertise, along with his chiseled chest and back.

It's not a definitive version for me, but it has enough of a best-of-both-worlds type compromise to suggest a viewing, if you're curious.
Week 18: 'Secret Agent' [1936]
Source: Amazon Video [streaming]

With 'The 39 Steps', Hitchcock took two steps forward. With 'Secret Agent', I feel he took one step back.

'Secret Agent' is set during the Great War (although the tone of foreign spies and plots makes it feel much closer aligned to the war that was brewing at the time). John Gielgud plays a British Captain who is persuaded to take on another man's identity and track down and eliminate a German spy.  He is aided in his efforts by Peter Lorre and Madeleine Carroll, both former Hitchcock players.

If you liked 'The Man who knew too much', then you may find 'Secret Agent' to be just your cup of tea. It is more dialogue-driven than action-driven in the most part, and would probably have been much better with Robert Donat in the lead, as Hitchcock originally wanted. John Gielgud, fine actor though he was, is too stiff in this role which needed more of the impishness that Donat brought to 'The 39 Steps'. Comic relief is provided by Lorre, who seems to be having a great deal of fun in his role, but skirts hamminess on more than one occasion.

That's not to say that it's a complete waste of your time. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing, and a couple of set pieces are well-done. The scene in the church, with the ominous drone of the organ, is excellent, especially a POV shot from above the organ, and a murder is staged perfectly; we see the act through a telescope, cut with a scene of a formal drawing room. One of the murderer's accomplices, knowing what is taking place miles away, tries to act normally in front of the victim's wife. Meanwhile, the family dog is whining and scratching at the door to be set free, somehow intuiting his master's fate. The acting, editing and element of suspense is worth the price of admission alone.

There is also good use of sound effects in this film, notably ones that drown out the actors dialogue. Hitchcock's experience of silent films comes into play here, as in the aforementioned church scene, when the bell starts tolling, and more so in the chocolate factory, in which the deafening noise of the machinery turns the film dialogue-free for several minutes.

Ultimately, though, coming straight after the excellent '39 Steps', I found it slightly disappointing. I watched the 'Synergy Entertainment' version currently available on Amazon Video. I can confidently state that, as the company helpfully printed their watermark in the bottom right-hand corner for several seconds throughout the film. However, this wasn't the worst distraction, considering that the print itself was terrible. Some of the early Mill Creek releases looked and sounded better than this.
(01-25-2018, 09:28 AM)Garp Wrote: [ -> ]BONUS: 'Easy Virtue' [2008]
[...] Entertaining overall, but non-essential.

Just popping in a bit late to note that I'm a fan of the '08 Easy Virtue. One of the best-ever closing credit songs, surely!

Also, I had the pleasure of seeing the 2005 comic adaptation/spoof of Hitchcok's The 39 Steps twice in London. A total of four actors played over a hundred parts in under two hours, to hilarious and thrilling result. Got me a souvenir poster:

[Image: 39_steps.jpg]

Big Grin
(05-07-2018, 09:23 PM)Gaith Wrote: [ -> ]I had the pleasure of seeing the 2005 comic adaptation/spoof of Hitchcok's The 39 Steps twice in London. A total of four actors played over a hundred parts in under two hours, to hilarious and thrilling result.

I saw that too when I lived in London! Excellent stuff.
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