Number 17 (1932)

According to Filmstruck's brief description of this movie, Hitchcock didn't want to direct this one (referring to my comment about Rich and Strange) and yet, since The Lodger this has been arguably the most Hitchcockian movie I've seen.

The beginning is his most artful—following leaves from a tree blowing down the side walk, catching Barton's hat (John Stuart) in the process which motivates his entrance into frame.

A lot of use of model sets in this for the train/bus sequence. I don't believe I've seen a movie with a train robbery at night, so that was a nice "first." I'm not quite sure how he did some of those shoots besides putting a camera on a real train, which is what he must have done, since green screens weren't used in movies until 1940 (The Thief of Baghdad). There's no way he did that though right? There are a couple of shots that are just so believable though...

Anyways, Hitch really stepped up his foreboding shadow game in this one, using cast shadows to help frame the subject or provide an effect. The smoke that backlights the "17" in the window was a nice touch. At many points in the beginning the characters give a lag in their response time, which is a great and easy way to make things creepier.


The only thing I didn't care for was the ending, which dives into the story that no one really cared about. This may have been the movie that Hitchcock discusses with Truffaut about what a mistake it was to have the macguffin exist. But he made that mistake and never did it again. His later movies just cut out this type of ending entirely, like North by Northwest: cutting from Cary Grant saving Eva Marie Saint to them climbing in bed.


I really liked the moment where the men are talking offscreen while another man (who I think is Henry Doyle played by Barry Jones) is searching around the house. I love when there's more than one thing happening at a time it gives the story dimension. Something that Godard and la nouvelle vague kids would employ later to a nonsensical degree. Speaking of Godard, this movie in the beginning reminded me of Alphaville..not a shocker, except that this may be the first time I've seen a handheld camera thus far, or at least the effect of one in the beginning. It comes off amateurish at times. That being said, a very good precursor to Hitchcock's development of the suspense genre.


Plus: the most insane example of saving someone's life that I've ever seen in this movie, when Detective Barton saves Nora (Anne Grey) by sticking his hand out to catch an incoming bullet that's going straight for her heart. The bullet shot by Ben the tramp (Leon M. Lion), who didn't even mean to shoot her let alone him. A wild moment.



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