The 39 Steps ★★★½

Slightly hamstrung by its status as an adaptation. Sure, Buchan’s novel provides the propulsive structure and the dazzling pursuits through Scottish moorland. But the finest sections here are the ones added for the screen: the music hall (Mr. Memory), and the dip into romantic comedy that comes with the late addition of a love interest. Why not diverge even from the source, then?

Whereas Buchan’s vision of Hannay is a fantasy of savoir faire, getting out of scrapes by charming strangers of all walks of life, Donat’s version leans much further on the (classically Hitchcockian) desperation of the falsely accused.