Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Number Seventeen


At only 63 minutes, this barely qualifies as a feature film. And, sad to say, it doesn’t qualify at all as a good film. Hitchcock didn’t want to make this, he had another project in mind, but for some reason he didn’t get any choice. It’s based on a stage play that probably made sense, but very little of what we see here does. Number Seventeen is a house near a railroad station where a jeweled necklace has been concealed by a group of robbers, and they are now looking for it. Why they don’t know where it is, I never understood. This really can be seen as two short movies spliced together. The first one takes place almost entirely on a three-story stairwell in the center of the old, abandoned house; obviously the set for the play. It is utterly incomprehensible. There is an annoying cockney who apparently was to provide comic relief, and fails completely to do so. After 40 minutes of boring interplay that seems a lot longer, we are suddenly plunged into the second movie, a chase between a train and a hijacked bus, with people climbing all around on the moving train to no purpose I could see except to provide thrills. This action sequence consumes the last 20 minutes. And that’s it. The only thing I can say in this movie’s favor is that the model work—the small town sets, the tiny bus, a ferry boat at the end, and most of all the model train—are very well done.