The Thirty Nine Steps 1978

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John Buchan’s celebrated novel, the jumping off point for James Bond, Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible, gets a souped-up period treatment from director Don Sharp, rising to a new climax set on the face of London’s Big Ben that seems borrowed from Harold Lloyd. Robert Powell is an excellent Richard Hannay, a mining engineer given precious information by Scudder (Sir John Mills) before he’s bumped off. Hannay gets involved in a cat and mouse chase through Scotland before uncovering the German plot, with venerable support from Eric Porter, Timothy West and Andrew Kier. Often unfairly compared to Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Thirty Nine Steps is a useful return to source for espionage fans keen to find out why Buchan’s work proved so influential.

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