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Number 17 (1932)

Number Seventeen (original title)
A gang of thieves gather at a safe house following a robbery, but a detective is on their trail.

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Writers:

(as J. Jefferson Farjeon), (play) (as J. Jefferson Farjeon) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leon M. Lion ...
Ben
...
Nora Brant - the Girl
John Stuart ...
Barton - the Detective
Donald Calthrop ...
Brant - Nora's Escort
...
Henry Doyle
Ann Casson ...
Rose Ackroyd
Henry Caine ...
Mr. Ackroyd
Garry Marsh ...
Sheldrake
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Storyline

Detective Gilbert is searching for a necklace robbed by a gang of thieves. In the beginning, the gang is in a house in London, then they are running away from police. It will not be easy for the detective to recover the jewel. Written by Claudio Sandrini <pulp99@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 November 1932 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

No 17  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Close to the end of the film, the train crashes into the ferry, and then into the sea. Parts of this scene are shown in Agatha Christie: Poirot: The ABC Murders (1992), at approximately 1:10, when Cust is watching the film in the Doncaster cinema. See more »

Goofs

Barton and Nora's hands are tied to the railing behind them, but after they fall backwards through it they're hanging with their hands in front of them. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ben: Oh! Oh, Gawd! Oh, Gawd! Oh, Gawd! Oh!
Fordyce/Barton: How do you feel? Now, where's that candle? Here, have some of this.
See more »

Connections

Version of Huset nr 17 (1949) See more »

Soundtracks

I Don't Need a Television
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Shalson
Lyrics by John Malvern
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
"'Eavy messin' about department"
25 January 2008 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Number 17 was made at a crossroads point in Alfred Hitchcock's career. After the success of crime thrillers Blackmail and Murder!, and the mediocrities of stage adaptations Juno and The Paycock and The Skin Game, he now knew where his real strength lay. Unfortunately for him, his bosses hadn't quite caught on yet, which is why his early 30s output is rather uneven. For this, his return to the crime genre, he was lumbered with another adapted play, and a plodding and cliché-ridden one at that.

However, Hitch knew full well that Number 13 was daft pot-boiler material and so, rather than attempt to take it seriously, he and his wife (and then, closest collaborator) Alma Reville stirred it up into a farcical self-parody – adding yet more clichés, camping up the villains and piling plot twists upon plot twists. Hitchcock also used the film as an arena for technical experimentation, and as such it contains a number of Hitchcock "firsts".

By this point it was becoming increasingly important in a Hitchcock picture to immediately rope the audience in with a series of attention-grabbing, dialogue-free images, and in Number 17 the opening sequence is actually the strongest piece of film-making in the whole piece. We open with an eerie, wind-blasted street scene, into which comes an anonymous man – his back to the camera. We then follow the mystery man to the front door of the titular "Number 17" and, in a single, smooth tracking shot follow him inside. It's a neat trick to bring the audience into the action, having us become the camera and discover the environment, and yet at the same time keeping the man's identity and purpose unknown.

What follows is a steady descent into the depths of farce, with exaggerated performances, sped-up fist fights and too many ridiculous plot twists and character introductions to really keep up with. In tone it borders on that of Bride of Frankenstein. A couple of nods to the cast are in order - Donald Calthrop is the archetypal upper class criminal, and Leon Lion plays the ultimate "Lord-love-a-duck" cockney rogue. Leon Lion, who also produced Number 17, was actually a playwright.

Along the way however, Hitch gets to experiment. Silly as it is, this is really the first of Hitch's adventure thrillers, what I call the clinging-to-the-side-of-trains pictures. This type of thriller – as oppose to the more domestic crime stories of Blackmail and Murder! – would make up the best part of his late 30s work and would eventually result in North by Northwest twenty-five years later. It's also the first of his films to be mostly set in one location (like the later Lifeboat, Rope and Rear Window), although this seems to be more coincidental rather than the start of a trend. On top of that it's the first time Hitch gets to play with scale models, and the beginning of his recurring association with trains. Oh, and there's even the first true MacGuffin in the form of a stolen necklace.

The trouble is, because this picture is done as a genre spoof, you can't expect any of the suspense elements to work. Number 17 may contain motifs and techniques used to great effect in, say, The 39 steps and The Lady Vanishes, but it's nowhere near as exciting as those classics. And, although it's a credit to Hitch's playful touch and self-awareness, with the exception of the occasional great line from Leon Lion Number 17 isn't really very funny. It's worth watching for anyone studying Hitchcock, as a prime example of his most experimental and innovative period, but it doesn't stand up on its own as entertainment.


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