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Wednesday May 22nd 2024

The Thirty-Nine Steps | 1978

The Thirty-Nine Steps location: Big Ben, Westminster, London
The Thirty-Nine Steps location: Richard Hannay hangs from the clock face: Big Ben, Westminster, London

Unlike the dull 1950s remake, the third version wisely ignores the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic and returns to John Buchan’s original story.

The Thirty-Nine Steps location: Richard Hannay's apartment: Albert Court, Kensington, London SW7
The Thirty-Nine Steps location: Richard Hannay’s apartment: Albert Court, Kensington, London SW7

The flat of Richard Hannay (Robert Powell) is now Albert Court, alongside the Albert Hall, Kensington, SW7.

The killing of Scudder (John Mills) takes place at Marylebone Station. Marylebone is not only picturesque, but generally a quiet station, and so quite popular for filming. The Beatles departed from – and then arrived at – Marylebone Station under the opening credits of their first feature film A Hard Day’s Night. And when Julie Christie left ‘Bradford’ for London at the end of Billy Liar, she left from –erm – London’s Marylebone.

The railway scenes were filmed on the Severn Valley Railway, and instead of the Forth Bridge, we get the Victoria Bridge over the River Severn at Arley. The Severn Valley Railway is a 16-mile heritage railway running along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, crossing the Shropshire/Worcestershire border. It's a great way to enjoy a traditional steam locomotive ride.

The Scottish locations include: the moors at Mitchellslacks; Morton Castle, a ruin near Thornhill; the village of Durisdeer; the Forest of Ae; and the Drumlanrig Estate.

The movie’s famous climax, though, uses a film set. Hannay dangles – not surprisingly – from a mock-up of the clockface of Big Ben in Parliament Square.

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