1932 / Director. Alfred Hitchcock.
NUMBER 17 is one of Hitchcock's lesser films and it was actually a film he never wanted to make. He was under studio contract and had no choice. The story way based on a play of the same name and tells the story of a gang of criminals who have stashed their loot from a recent heist inside an abandoned house. The property is situated beside a railway that leads to the English channel... the perfect place to make a getaway. Their plan is foiled when a detective, joined by a neighbouring woman, walks into the house . It's a strange and perplexing film and to be honest, it's hard to piece together. We're never really introduced to any of these characters and we come into the story as though midway through the plot. The film doesn't bother to explain why the detective is there and why a strange servant lurks in the shadows. Years later Hitchcock spoke about the film and dismissed it as nonsense. He thought it to be stupid and illogical. Watching it 80 years since it's release the movie actually has a lot going for it. The plot becomes irrelevant when the style and technical aspects prove to be enthralling. Hitchcock employed all sorts of tricks and gimmickry to elevate the material and his use of shadows, miniature sets and unexpected camera angles makes it a wonderful and nostalgic viewing. The speeding train sequence is awesome. One of the more curious - and appealing - qualities to the film it's the humour. Hitch's remedy to a script he found to be boring was to jam-pack it with comedy. His wicked flair for antics and slapstick make it even more absurd. Of his early work NUMBER 17 is possibly his worst but the fact that it's still a fun watch is a testament to the master of suspense.