Sunday, December 28, 2008

Silly Steps

Well, that was silly. Yet another "creative" version of Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. Not even the presence of the lovely Rupert Penry-Jones could save it from idiocy as fleetingly familiar moments morphed into something quite different and the woman who has been an obligatory part of the action since the Robert Donat movie assumed more roles than a shape-shifter.

I recall a fourteen-year-old Foundation pupil who had sat silent as I read the book with his class - actually, I read it to the class as they sat with the books in front of them - telling me: "Miss, that was the best book I ever read!" And yet each adaptation I've seen takes snippets of the original and stitches them together into a barely comprehensible and totally uninvolving whole. I dream of Buchan's story, complete with the Bald Archeologist and the Spectacled Roadman and the Literary Innkeeper, presented as a serial over ten weeks, each chapter having an episode to itself and ending on a cliffhanger, with the wonderfully tense drama of the London meeting followed by the incongruous confrontation in the seaside villa forming the final two episodes. No women, no love interest, no submarines. Just a rattling good yarn.

I wouldn't even allow them to take out some of the worst linguistic excesses in the opening two chapters in the interests of political correctness - think Merchant of Venice and leave it all. It'd work. But I bet it'll just have to stay in my head - and Buchan's book.


  1. It really was pretty awful, what a disappointment. I loved the Robert Powell version but intend to get around to reading the actual book sometime.

  2. Come on! It was stated to be based on Buchan's 39 Steps and not a faithful reproduction of it so you shouldn't have been expecting that.

    I'd agree it wasn't anything like as good as the book, but then I didn't think it would be and it might just encourage folk to read the actual story.

  3. Sorlil, I can't believe you escaped DGS without reading it!

  4. You should have watched the lesbian romp on ITV, in stead. I doubt it was more exciting but at least it was something new.

    My word verification for this comment is CRARSE. Is that a Scottish derivation?

  5. Nah, MP - sounds like one of the gentry expressing ridicule - as in "That film is crarse".

  6. Er...I gather I was supposed to have read it as I remember watching the film in class,lol!

  7. Anonymous5:35 PM

    I feel I have to mention Kenneth More, and that I slept on and off during the latest offering!

  8. Anonymous9:00 PM

    Is there none to root for Robert Donat?

    Word verification, appositely enough, is tradd.