The 39 Steps Opening Scene

The film opens in a theater, in London, where a man on stage is about to answer virtually any questions the audience may ask.  He is, in a sense, Mr. Know-It-All, called in the film Mr. Memory, who every day commits to memory 50 facts in a variety of categories (science, history, geography, etc.).    A man walks in in a trench coat – you only see the man from the waste-down purchase a ticket and walk in – much like James Bond will be introduced to us 27 years later in the film, Dr. No, at Les Ambassadeurs in London, when we just see his hands, arms, and chest before revealing his face.

Then this man walks to a seat, and we see his face.   Later a woman is shown at the bar.   The man in the trench coat, who turns out to be Hannay, asks Mr. Memory how far Winnipeg is from Montreal – and Mr. Memory indicates that the gentleman is a Canadian.   So we see he is not a Brit.    There is a haunting musical theme that is associated with Mr. Memory that sticks in Hannay’s head.   After a bunch of questions, an official-looking gentleman comes in (police) and there is a scuffle with a guy at the bar.   2 shots are fired – we only see the gun.  During the commotion, Hannay finds himself face-to-face with a woman.  After a while, she asks if she could go home with him.   He says, “well, it’s your funeral.”   Spoiler: He turns out to be correct.

They leave the music hall and go to his place, 122 (looks like) Portland Place: Portland Mansion.   He has a furnished flat as he is from Canada here for only a few months.   He asks her name: “Smith.”  She looks Eastern European, has an accent, hesitates and says – Smith?  Ok, now we are a little suspicious of her and who she is.  Later she says her first name is Annabella.

She is nervous, thinks she has been followed, there are a couple of men outside.  She is pulling shades down, and telling Hannay not to answer the phone.  There is mystery all around her – and we don’t know why.  She admits she fired the shots at the theater to create a diversion because there were a couple of men there who wanted to get her.


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