Number Seventeen (Number 17) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Number Seventeen (Number 17) Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
This was the worst Hitckcock movie I'd ever seen. The movie's quality is horrible, it's slow and boring, and the plot is really thin. I don't recommend watching this movie.
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2007
"Coo blimey, if it ain't my lucky day! I'm a murderer, I'm a liar and now I'm a b-bathroom fitting!"
Number Seventeen is criminally under-rated! Point out the pothole sized plot-holes, the toy-town special effects, ropey acting and wobbly camera and you are just missing the point (and I even wonder if cinema is for you?). Anyway, this IS 1932, so surely a moving camera, as opposed to the usual rigid static shots, is commendable and who wouldn't wobble carrying the equivalent of a small bungalow?? Either way, the 'clumsiness' only adds to the gleeful mayhem at play.
However, 17 is meant as a comic parody of the spy story (but with a large dose of surreal craziness and the gleeful cackle of 'The Old Dark House' and 'The Cat and the Canary' thrown in for good measure). So it's not really meant to be taken as seriously as may be expected.
It's also a formula that Hitch would make his own (the spy story as a send up of itself) and is now so familiar as a genre that it feels 'straight' yet is often screamingly camp (Bond anyone?).
It is quite a surreal and odd little film for much of it's (short) length - for the first half of the film people seem to keep appearing and then disappearing again at such an alarming rate it's hard to keep up with who's who, but that's part of it's charm (even in the last few minutes, a lovely twist means still more identities are being revealed!). And, at just over an hour, it still manages to cram in many of the elements we have come to recognise as Hitchcockian: staircases (lots of them!), the mysterious 'bad' girl (who has to redeem herself), handcuffs and bondage, trains and chases on trains, bathrooms, moral ambiguity, people not being what they seem (villains? Heroes? erm... your guess is as good as mine) and probably the first very discernible macguffin (the necklace).
When all is said and done, why the Hell should we care about the plot flaws and ropey acting when everyone is having such a lark - including the portly prodigy himself - quite literally like a big kid playing with his train set! I really do enjoy 17 more than the generally more revered Murder and Blackmail (so the acting in those films isn't ropey??). It's certainly no masterpiece but it's a lot of fun and nowhere near the dud it's always been dismissed as.
A forgotten gem.
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2007
I wouldn't call this a complete disaster, but I guess even the masters have to start somewhere...Hitchcock totally lost me on this one. Number 17 is full of atmosphere, has a neat setting, and bubbles with black-and-white charm, but the plot doesn't make any sense at all. I had trouble hearing the characters because of the sound, which isn't really Hitchcock's fault, but it made the storyline even harder to follow. And the acting is ass.

This was obviously just a fun little bauble for Hitchcock to kick around. He plays around a lot with light, shadow and sound in the movie; clearly honing his grasp of the atmospheric. I think I read somewhere that he made this movie just to fund Rich and Strange, and I believe it. Valuable only as a curio for die-hard Hitchcock fans.
Super Reviewer
August 10, 2007
NUMBER SEVENTEEN is one of the very few films Alfred Hitchcock made that has aged poorly. It's bizarre to find a movie he made that doesn't improve on a second viewing; even JAMAICA INN and THE SKIN GAME get better the more you look at them. Here's an unfortunate exception. While it doesn't lack merit as a rollicking little caper, the story is too confusing for the film to be enjoyed, and surprisingly enough the direction is clumsy and the whole thing ends up rather incoherent.

There may be a reason for this. Hitchcock made this in a hurry to get to a project he was eager to work on, RICH AND STRANGE, one of his most offbeat and personal films (actually released before this one). As a result, this very short and very stagy little comedy/thriller feels like the work of someone who didn't really care. While this is something that rarely happens in his catalog as director, you can sense the same thing to a lesser extent in STAGE FRIGHT and THE SKIN GAME, yet the technical competence of the former and the fine source material and performances of the latter make those more fun and interesting to see than this.

The real crime here is witnessing the failure of one of Hitch's only stabs at an old-dark-house mystery; it's a severe disappointment that he didn't explore the potential of the story to a greater degree. NUMBER SEVENTEEN is locked into its time and doesn't have anything close to the resonance of BLACKMAIL. To a fan of the director, it's essential but a bit off-putting.

One good point is the closing chase sequence, which takes up a major chunk of the movie's second half (the total running time is only an hour). Despite the obvious use of miniatures, it's amusing to see the director play with buildup and action in an otherwise dismal effort
Super Reviewer
½ April 28, 2012
This was one of Hitchcock's early works and was one of his worse. It was very hard to follow and despite the film being only slightly more than an hour it was boring. There was one thing I liked a lot though. The klutz humor that Ben brought to the table. Without that this would be one of my least favorite movies, which I would hate to say for any work of Hitch. This is defiantly the worse film I've seen of his but he was still a young director who had time to learn, and he certainly did.
Super Reviewer
½ September 8, 2006
Despite an attractive visual style and some very innovative editing, Number Seventeen falters from weak structure and lack of character development.
½ September 15, 2013
The plotting is half-baked and the special effects are so crude that they make the back projection in Marnie look like the last word in verisimilitude.
February 26, 2013
Shows a lot of influence from German Expressionism. While the plot is thin and wishy washy the movie has a nice tone and features good traits that can be seen in a lot of Hitchcock's other work.
½ March 6, 2011
Excellent. You don't know who the thieves are, who the detective is, where the diamonds are for most of the movie. Better yet, you've got a runaway train that finally crashes. For a '30s flick, this rocks.
½ October 3, 2009
The DVD transfer is cheap and the hiss was often louder than characters' voices. Plus, some of the characters have thick accents - plus, there were no subtitles available. So I missed a buncha plot details which are always essential in any film especially one of Hitchcock's. Still, the setting in the house was at least atmospheric (though a little clunkily directed) and the comedy is so dated to the point where it's recycled and chuckle worthy. Interesting characters and more or less good actors for them. The climax would be palpable with good production; or, filmed a couple of years later when the technology didn't reduce filming miniature trains and buses.
½ February 19, 2007
Highly promising plot and a lot of atmosphere make an engaging little movie... Notable for its youth. That is, the things that seem silly now were not cliches then. Good Hitchcock.
July 7, 2015
Boring...again...I'm not even 100% about what was going on for most of it. Time for a break from these!
April 26, 2015
Il est dommage qu'il faille attendre près de 40 minutes pour enfin quitter le premier décor de Numéro 17 et y trouver un joli climax d'à peu près 20 minutes dans un train lancé à grande vitesse qui implique aussi un bateau à vapeur. Visuellement, c'est plutôt réussi et le travail sur le son est assez étonnant pour un film de l'époque. Mais avant ça, l'histoire est si complexe et décousue qu'il est impossible de s'intéresser au moindre personnage, surtout avec ces acteurs extrêmement cabotins (Leon M. Lion en tête).
April 28, 2012
An uninspired detective mystery with a labyrinthine plot is crammed into an hour and given spoof styling. This mostly takes the form of an immensely annoying sidekick, some gurning to the camera and some playing around with editing. There's some nice atmosphere at the beginning and a small amount of entertainment to be drawn from the preposterous twists and over the top action, but these are only passing moments and it keeps up neither the fun nor the captivation levels.
July 15, 2014
Review In A Nutshell:

There are so many things wrong with this film. First off the acting was horrendous, leaving me cringing in the process. Second, the story was dull, lacking in the twists and suspense that are present in Hitchcock's great films. It was also so difficult to follow the plot as Hitchcock fails to establish both the characters and the story early in the film. Finally, the score in this film was so forced that I actually laughed a couple of times, along with a few sighs of loathing, instead of feeling immersed in the film's suspenseful atmosphere. The only aspect of the film I could compliment is its photography. The cinematographers wonderfully crafted this sense of darkness and eeriness on the film's background, but once the plot kicks into gear its atmosphere starts to change, coming off as generic and lacking in texture. Though I am aware that Hitchcock was forced into making this film by British International Pictures due to the poor commercial performance of his previous film East of Shanghai, but that doesn't mean he had to make a picture this awful. Long story short, Number Seventeen is an appalling film by Hitchcock.
½ February 25, 2014
It's alright, not too memorable. The characters are rather uninteresting and the film isn't that appealing. Not the best out of Hitchcock's films, but still fairly decent to those into classic comedy mysteries.
January 1, 2013
A gang of thieves gather at a safe house following a robbery, but a detective is on their trail.
November 23, 2012
A gang of thieves gather at a safe house following a robbery, but a detective is on their trail.
½ November 5, 2012
a decent hitchcock film.
February 7, 2012
A bit confusing, but like all of the stories Hitch chooses, it is worth it in the end. He displays a couple of his trades marks, including a large emphasis on shadows, sometimes too much.
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