I was very impressed by the political connotations of this Hitchcock comedy. Made during the era of the British and French policies of “Appeasement” of Hitler and the Nazis, it is made clear the director’s opinions on this matter. He shows the outright futility of the silly British “pacificist” in his belief that the Germans won’t do anything to harm them as, “We are British citizens!” As in the 39 steps, it entails a playful love story between a couple that initially have a strong dislike for each other. I am quite more drawn to the burgeoning romance between the two main characters than I was with the 39 steps, as Margaret Lockwoodis a much more interesting actress and the Michael Redgrave-played Gilbert is a playful musician with a good deal of audacity and spunk, and quite not your typical leading male from 30s/40s era films.
Naturally getting started off with one by a master, Alfred Hitchcock.
I had wanted to watch this and had it waiting on the computer when I got home from my trip. Then I realized while I was away that it appears in my favorite book Catcher in the Rye (which I try to read every year around Christmas time), as one of the few movies the Holden can tolerate and in particular because Phoebe has the whole movie memorized.
I mean if you tell old Phoebe something she knows exactly what the hell you’re talking about. I mean you can even take her anywhere with you. If you take her to a lousy movie, for instance, she knows it’s a lousy movie. If you take her to a pretty good movie, she knows it’s a pretty good movie. D.B. and I took her to see this French movie, The Baker’s Wife, with Raimu in it. It killed her. Her favourite is The 39 Steps, though, with Robert Donat. She knows the whole goddamn movie by heart, because I’ve taken her to see it about ten times. When old Donat comes up from this Scotch farmhouse, for instance, when he’s running away from the cops and all, Pheobe’ll say right out loud in the movie – right when the Scotch guy in the picture says it – ‘Can you eat the herring?’ She knows all the talk by heart. And when this professor in the picture, that really jolly German spy, sticks up his little finger with part of the middle joint missing, to show Robert Donat, old Pheobe beats him to it – she holds up her little finger at me in the dark, right in front of my face.