GUEST POST- Hitch on the Hump: The Mike's 39 Steps Program
Hello folks and welcome back to another edition of Hitch on the Hump. Once more we have a guest in the house, and it's none other than the masked maniac The Mike of From Midnight, With Love. If you aren't reading From Midnight, then you're missing out on one of best Horror, Cult, and Genre blogs out there. From The Midnight Movie of the Week to his Midnight Top 5's and movie reviews, I always have to take some time out to see what The Mike has got going. This week The Mike is up to some mighty fine Guest Posting here as he takes a look at one of my favorite Hitchcock films, The 39 Steps.
"Ever heard of a thing called persecution mania?”
The best definition of persecution mania I can find warns of the condition being “an acute irrational fear that other people are plotting one's downfall and that they are responsible for one's failures.” Of course, the rub of The 39 Steps – like plenty of Hitchcock's other works – is that the viewer knows that the fears presented by the doomed Miss Annabelle Smith (which are then transferred to Robert Donat's Richard Hannay) are not irrational. Though the audience and the lead character (and eventually his female companion) know there are real dangers approaching Hannay, the thrills come from watching him struggle to find his way out of the mess he's fallen into.
The 39 Steps that are referenced in the title are also notable in the annals of Hitch, because they still stand as one of the director's biggest and best “macguffins.” The term would be trademarked by the director later in his career, but the 39 Steps are the personification of the unknown entity that drives the action of the film which Hitchcock often relied on. You can almost see the director smirking from behind the camera as he teases the audience with mentions of the 39 Steps throughout the film, and even as the film is wrapping up he refuses to give us all the details regarding the titular mystery.
Thanks so much Mike. That was great. Please go check out The Mike over at From Midnight With Love, and join me back here next week for more Hitch on the Hump goodness.