The 39 Steps (1935) parents guide

The 39 Steps (1935) Parent Guide

Although the 1935 film's script deals with both espionage and murder, it handles the violence in a polite manner.

Overall B

Although we've all been told to beware of strangers, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) does not heed such sage advice. A Canadian living abroad, he is sampling London's nightlife when two gunshots abruptly change the evening's entertainment.

Release date September 1, 1935

Violence C+
Sexual Content B
Profanity A
Substance Use C

Why is The 39 Steps (1935) rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated The 39 Steps (1935) Not Rated

Run Time: 88 minutes

Parent Movie Review

If you like high intrigue, but are having difficulty finding a tale that you may share with your family—the search might be completable in just l39 easy Steps.

Although we’ve all been told to beware of strangers, Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) does not heed such sage advice. A Canadian living abroad, he is sampling London’s nightlife when two gunshots abruptly change the evening’s entertainment. Leaving the music hall with the rest of the panicked throng, the young man chivalrously stops to help a damsel in distress (Lucie Mannheim). But instead of the usual “thank you,” she asks to come home with him.

Upon entering Richard’s flat, the mysterious maiden displays paranoid tendencies while claiming to be a spy and muttering something about 39 steps. Skeptical of her story, the gentleman retires to the couch, only to be awaked later that night when she staggers into the room and collapses to reveal a knife protruding from her back. Realizing his life is in danger, and that the police will believe him a murderer, the desperate man sets out to prove his innocence by finding the real plot behind the killing.

Unfortunately, Richard’s honest demeanor is not well suited for the covert operation he is now entangled in. A series of misplaced confidences, unlucky coincidences, and vigilant pursuers keep the fugitive on the run. Along with the suspense, the script provides some humorous situations, like the predicament the accused encounters when a police officer handcuffs him to a feisty woman (Madeleine Carroll) who is determined to see him incarcerated.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1935, this early film contains many of the elements that would eventually become trademarks of this master moviemaker (including his cameo appearance). The 39 Steps deals with espionage and murder, yet handles both violence and some mild sexual content in a polite manner. It’s also a good reminder to be cautious with mere acquaintances.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim . Running time: 88 minutes. Theatrical release September 1, 1935. Updated

The 39 Steps (1935)
Rating & Content Info

Why is The 39 Steps (1935) rated Not Rated? The 39 Steps (1935) is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Overall: B
A man, falsely accused of murder, must try to find the real culprits in order to clear his name. This early Hitchcock mystery/thriller contains minimal violence and mild suspense, with a twist of humor.

Violence: C+
Rowdy patrons engage in bar brawl. Gunshots during a public gathering cause people to panic while trying to exit a building. Dieing character is shown with a knife protruding from back. It is implied that a man slaps a woman. Suicide is mentioned. Two characters are shot. Men wrestle, and one tumbles down a small embankment. Man verbally threatens a woman.

Sexual Content: B
Man questions woman’s intentions when she asks to go home with him. Adultery is alluded to. Lingerie salesman displays and discusses his wares. On two occasions, a man kisses a woman. A couple, pretending to be married, shares a bed. Woman removes her wet stockings.

Language: A

Alcohol/Drug Use: C
Men smoke and drink in a music hall setting. Main character smokes cigarette and carries a pipe. Houseguests drink at a birthday party. Alcohol served at a hotel/pub.

Miscellaneous Concerns
‘Man on the run” theme conveys the impression that no one can be trusted.

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The 39 Steps (1935) Parents' Guide

This movie exemplifies how fads and trends effect what is deemed “politically correct.” Made in 1935, this film contains many portrayals of people smoking (including the main character). How often do you see smoking on the silver screen today? Is it the “good guys” or the “bad guys” who are most likely to light up? On the other hand, how many swear words did you hear in this Hitchcock flic? What has happened to our tolerance for language over the last 75 years?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of The 39 Steps (1935) movie is June 26, 2012. Here are some details…

Release Date: 26 June 2012
The Criterion Collection releases The 39 Steps to Home Video on Blu-ray. Special Features include:
- New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural
- Audio commentary by Alfred Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane
- Hitchcock: The Early Years (2000), a British documentary
- Original footage from broadcaster Mike Scott's 1966 TV interview with Hitchcock
- Complete broadcast of the 1937 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation
- Visual essay by Hitchcock scholar Leonard Leff
- Excerpts from Francois Truffaut?s 1962 audio interview with Hitchcock
- Original production design drawings
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic David Cairns

Related home video titles:

Rear Window is a later Hitchcock film that offers more suspense and a clearer definition of his unique style. For a slightly different take on the “man on the run” theme, try Chicken Run.