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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Comedy > Thriller > The 39 Steps (2008 TV Movie remake/BBC DVD)

The 39 Steps (2008 TV Movie remake/BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Telefilm: C



Never remake films by Alfred Hitchcock.  It is one of the simplest things to remember, yet one of the biggest mistakes people make every so often.  Before Robert Towne attempts it for a film due in 2011, the BBC has produced a TV movie version in 2008 of The 39 Steps, but it is so dull, flat and goofy that the Hitchcock original looks even better in comparison.  Director James Hawes thinks he can do his pitiful variant as North By Northwest with Indiana Jones style and style-comedy, but lands up making a schizophrenic mess.


For those unfamiliar, Richard Hannay (here played by Rupert Penry-Jones of the hit BBC series MI-5) is traveling and having his usual fun when he gets involved in a gun battle that gets a scared man killed, blood all over him and a chase that might involve mistaken identity and more murder.  He must figure out the mystery of The 39 Steps and what it means before it is too late for him and maybe higher stakes.


Unfortunately, Lizzie Mickery’s teleplay adaptation is too cutesy to have any edge and certainly does not get the sexual politics of the Hitchcock film.  I was surprised the BBC did this, but when these things happen, the usual clichéd excuse is something along the lines of “we were adapting the book” when none of it seems like any book with its references to so many films.  A boring curio, there is at least some money in it and it looks good, but it is also a dud and is best skipped.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is a little soft with some motion blur here and there, plus color can be odd.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is well recorded enough, but is nothing special either.  There are no extras.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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