Archive for The 39 Steps


Posted in FILM with tags , , on November 10, 2020 by dcairns

Fiona and I have been sluggish podcasters this year (my fault), but I couldn’t resist an invitation from Michal Oleszczyk and Sebastian Smoliński to chat about THE 39 STEPS for their Hitchcock podcast, Foreign Correspondents.

A fun evening was had!

The rest of the episodes are here.

39 Steps in the right direction

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2019 by dcairns

I’m once more a guest on Good Evening, the excellent Alfred Hitchcock-themed podcast, which is looking at all the Master’s films in sequence, a process I can personally recommend. Here’s the link to our discussion on THE 39 STEPS. Big thanks to my hosts, Brandon Shea-Mutala and Chris Haigh, and fellow guest Alice Baker.

My previous appearance, weighing in on BLACKMAIL, is here. You can also read my thoughts on T39S here (for my Hitchcock Year) and here (for Criterion).

And a reminder that Fiona & I’s podcast, The Shadowcast, has its latest edition here.

Glazed Hamlet

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on October 16, 2015 by dcairns


John Laurie, in he role of Hamlet, by Scottish newspaper caricaturist Emilio Coia.

Laurie was a bit of a stage star, and his Hamlet was well-received — probably it got him his part, as one of the few non-Irish players, in Hitchcock’s JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK.

My late friend Lawrie told me that if ever one met John Laurie, within seconds he would tell you about his Hamlet.

And, to my delight, when J.L. appears in Michael Powell’s RETURN TO THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, he staggers from an alighting helicopter, hoves up to camera, and tells us who he is – since he’s an actor, this explanation consists of a list of roles, and first on the list is Hamlet, followed by the crofter in THE 39 STEPS, and Private Frazer in Dad’s Army on TV.

“We’re all doomed,” was his TV catchphrase, and one can see how the actor’s sepulchral quality would have translated well to the melancholy Dane. I also like the suggestion in this illustration that J.L.’s Hamlet would have been an expressionistic one, bent into some sort of human Swastika.