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Number Seventeen (1932)

with 2 comments

Subtitles, guys… subtitles… Any admirable qualities are washed away in a wave of ambiguity.  We’re talking a BIG hole when you can hardly understand the dialogue.  Or maybe I’m just stupid.

Number Seventeen, based on a stage play by J. Jefferson Farjeon (thanks Wikipedia), takes place in an old house by a railway.  Detective Gilbert (John Stuart) is looking for a valuable necklace that was robbed.  While searching the old house, he and an old man named Ben (Leon M. Lion) stumble upon a dead body.  Throughout the film more characters show up including a woman who falls through the roof named Nora (Anne Grey), and the actual gang of thieves responsible for the robbery, Mr. and Mrs. deaf-and-dumb Ackroyd (Henry Caine and Ann Casson) and a third.  The dead body soon disappears, guns are being pulled at everyone, people keep getting locked into different rooms, the sought-after necklace is recovered, and everybody ends up on a train.

First of all, I would love to see a remake.  It’s an idea with great potential, and although this production is not gold-star worthy I was really interested.  Second, Leon Lion is really funny to watch on screen – he’s that bad.  Can one man move their face that many different ways in the space of twenty seconds?  Yes, he can.  Third, the sound and music meshes together much better than Champagne (aka it was actually intentional).  Fourth, the mood and pace are quite good.

Hitchcock cites this film in his famous interview with Truffaut as being a disaster.  I beg to differ, Champagne was a disaster.  Number Seventeen is unrealized potential.  I enjoyed it, and there’s definitely some solid material to build upon.  5/10

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Written by laurenthejukebox17

July 31, 2010 at 11:11 am

Posted in 1930s, movies, mystery, thriller

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. That’s strange, I saw this two years ago on TCM and thought it was quite good. I don’t think I had a problem with the dialogue. Was it the accents or was it just a shotty soundtrack that made it impossible to hear what they were saying?

    Michael Troutman

    July 31, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    • A little bit of both I suppose. The combination of the accents and low volume and poor sound quality (unnecessary backup noise) made it difficult for me. Perhaps it was my DVD or my DVD player. Who knows.

      laurenthejukebox17

      July 31, 2010 at 7:36 pm


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