Firstly I should apologise for posting this a day early, however I go on holiday tomorrow so thought it’s better to be early than a week late. Week 14 of the challenge brings me to Number Seventeen a thrilling murder mystery (kind of).
The narrative in essence is simple enough. A man discovers a house (number seventeen) and upon finding the door open begins to explore. Upstairs he finds a dead body on the landing; then things kick off as a series of people turn up (including gangsters, tramps and pretty girls) leading to plot full of twists and turns that run into a climatic sequence on a train.
The tension in the film is generally quite good without being particularly special. Some bits are very good for instance at the start when the body is discovered and the train sequence at the end is truly thrilling. Shadows and candlelight play big roles in this tension as the audience cannot really see fully what is going on with the darkness and are drawn into the scenes.
The twists and turns in the plot are generally interesting as the audience doesn’t know who any of the characters are and thus cannot tell who is the hero and who is the villain. This works well at points however also hinders the film as there is no one to root for. The final twist however is simply wonderful and makes the entire film worth watching.
The film has a few Hitchcockian features but the most prominent is the use of a spiral staircase. Spiral staircases are obviously a common feature of Hitchcock films later on such as Vertigo however this is the first real use of one as part of the narrative and a cool feature to be introduced.
The main problem with this film is the lack of a real protagonist, with a running time of just other an hour and seven characters to be introduced there is little time for characterisation meaning there is no-one within the film with whom the audience relates meaning at times interest is lost and the tension does suffer slightly.
Once scene in the film is quite frankly terrible. That scene is a fight between three of the characters. The fight is ridisculously choreographed with basically just grappling and then someone getting hit by a spoon (yes a spoon). It is simply awful.
Hitchcock does not make a cameo in this film L
Number Seventeen is a film that is fairly interesting at points but suffers from a lack of characters. It generally feels like a bad version of Hitch’s later film The Trouble With Harry which is a shame.