Number Seventeen (1932)
Genre: Crime Thriller Drama (UK)
Starring: Leon M. Lion, Anne Grey
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho, The Birds)
Overview: Thieves hole themselves up in a house, but the bystanders and a detective held hostage have their own plans in the unfolding drama.
Acting: The actors are all too stage and not enough film. Imagine a hoity English theater with actors poised not as the ruffians they're supposed to be but the actors so popular and famous that their mere presence is enough to satisfy audiences, and God forbid they debase themselves by acting like thugs. I'm glad our generation doesn't buy this garbage anymore. Being fickle has its advantages. Proper posture doesn't make you cool. There was one guy who played a commoner (in England that reads 'waste-of-life bum'). He was great, too bad about the rest.
Cinematography: I pity cinematographers of this era. Imagine working in a mine, digging for coal. Imagine doing it with a ball and chain on your leg. You'd call that being a prisoner, right? Yeah. Well cameras with sound synch were equivalent to the ball and chain in the early thirties. I hate it. The lighting, though a little forced, added that streak of the macabre and the haunting. Deep shadows and bold bottom-lighting made it obvious who this was directed by, but you'll be hard pressed to find me enjoying the look of a film shot with an immovable iron box.
Script: This was originally a play, and had I heard a little more than a third of it, I'm sure it would have been decent. The thing about films based on plays is that they tend to be heavy on the writing. When the sound quality is so bad you can't hear it because someone didn't bother to try, it really kills the mood. And I'm talking DVD here. If you DO find a great copy of this, then you might still find the uninspired dialogue not so exciting anyways.
Plot: I found the story a little confusing, mainly because I couldn't hear it, but it starts off with some people in an abandoned house who find a dead man and a strange woman. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else until the real baddies show up and the fun begins. As plots go, I wouldn't say its full of twists, but there are a few turns and the climax is pretty intense, with a great chase scene full of train-car jumping and such.
Mood: Actors pretending to be characters, that's a minus. The model trains were a little obvious, the ending was farcical, but there's that: at least it ended. The worst Hitchcock had to offer. I don't know who he was pandering to with this one, but they're obviously morons. No lasting value whatsoever, avoid it.
Overall Rating: 48% (Whatever The Number, It's At The Bottom Of The List)
Aftertaste: I watched this one out of order, because it was grouped with The Ring and the DVD itself was a rental. The only thing worthy of appreciation would have to be the highly expressionist lighting effects that helped play a part in creating the Hitchcockian mood.
God, I hate films of the thirties.