The 39 Steps? How about 39 different staircase movies.
Max Tohline cleverly created a video highlighting an underexplored throughline in director Alfred Hitchcock’s films. As the premiere case study for auteurism, most of Hitchcock’s idiosyncrasies have been analyzed to death. But now, it’s time to look at his love of staircases.
Hitchcock’s very first shot of his first film (The Pleasure Garden) was a spiral staircase and the last shot of his final movie (Family Plot) is an actress plopping down onto a stair, then looking straight into the camera. Hard to argue against that. Almost every single film of his involves stairways at some point, which could be pure coincidence or historical necessity, but it’s easy to make the case for aesthetic consistency.
Stairs are tense and great for chases, either up or down. Audiences understand the physical efforts and feelings associated with ascent or descent, so packing the narrative into these spaces makes scenes even more intense. What follows is a supercut of all 39 different staircases in Hitchcock’s oeuvre.