Ya don’t have to do nothin’ in this ‘ere house – ya stand still and things happen!
Hitchcock's 15th film, 'Number 17', is film number 11 of 53 in my journey through his filmography… and if all those numbers don't get yer knickers in a twist then I don't know what will! I'm three months in now and officially a quarter of the way into the challenge unbelievably. At this point, in theory, I should be 13 to 14 films in to be on track, so I am a few behind still but a few double features from time to time should see me good.
This is another one I'd like to put on my list of 'plays I'd like to produce' when I finally become a producer too!
Admittedly, Number Seventeen is not one of Hitchcock's favourite movies (when you've made as many as he has then I guess you can afford to be honest about some of your failures!) but I still found it very enjoyable. I can see why he doesn't like it though, it seems like a very badly written and rushed play that he's been forced to make into a film and it's almost no surprise that it was his last film for British International Pictures. At just 61 minutes length it is the shortest of his films I've watched so far (I don't think many get any shorter then that) so it definitely felt like the dialogue could have been improved, padded out, paced a little more and the interplay between the characters looked into in more depth.
For a quick film it was fairly difficult to follow for the first 30-40 minutes (before the characters leave the house and the film escalates into a dramatic runaway-train vs. bus chase!), but that was almost the fun of it, to not really know what was going on or who anyone really was. It gave it more of an authenticity and then gives you a different way of seeing it on a second viewing, which is always a rewarding viewing experience!
It's a masked-ball where nobody was really invited in the first place and neither have they actually bothered to turn up in masks, but everybody is happy to just pretend that they were and they did, simply relying on conversation to mask the truth.
As a final note, I have to say one thing I really liked about this film too was the use of light and shadow. With the brief exception of the bathroom I don't think we get to see much of the safe-house beyond the 3 floors of candle and moon-lit stairwell, which allows the character's shadows to really come to life on the walls behind them adding to the mystique and fear that someone else could jump out at any moment!