Stars: Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Lucie Mannheim, Godfrey Tearle, Peggy Ashcroft, John Laurie, Frank Cellier
All great filmmakers have those early, reasonably obscure gems that work as both evidence of their soon-to-mature gifts and solid movies in their own right. In Alfred Hitchcock's case, one such indicator of the genius to come was the 1935 espionage action-thriller The 39 Steps, starring Robert Donat as a secret agent trying to bring down a spy ring while also looking to clear his name against claims of being a murderer.
Though it was nowhere near the then-35-year-old director's first production, The 39 Steps can be appreciated as one of the first examples of Hitchcock fully owning his singular style. It's fast-moving, packed with twists, and punctuated by shrewd moments of dark, tongue-in-cheek humor.