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Number Seventeen

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I tivo-ed most of the movies and only this afternoon got around to Number Seventeen (1932). Our charming hosts Ben Mankiewicz and Alexandre Philippe were kind in their introduction, but mostly dismissive, with their last positive evaluation being that at least it wasn't very long. But I found myself mesmerized from the first minute. And I think it was well worth watching in the context of our intense study of Hitch.  Of course the second half is pure Hitch, the grand finale "train chase", with a real piling on of transportation as our cast of characters. But for those of us studying themes, the first part is equally revealing, since all of that action takes place on a staircase! Is there a single staircase trick Hitch missed? I doubt it. The views up and down, leaning over, falling over, dead people tumbling down, front door to roof garden, skylights.  Somebody else mentioned the shadow play -- a lesson in how to film "noir." I found it a humorous, if not-quite-full-out slapstick as more and more characters kept entering the action, each with some sort of twist, pretending to be somebody else. In the slapstick course we talked about fake or over-the-top violence, which Hitch was certainly playing with here, as everybody seemed to bounce back even after being beaten severely.  The film hasn't come up on the boards or in the course too much, but it's definitely worth a viewing, especially on a sleepy Sunday while we're all waiting for the next module. Nice programming, TCM!


Anyone else willing to stick up for this little film?

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I like this one a lot! Usually only the model train chase gets praised, but I think the opening half is even better. One wonders if we would speak of the "thriller septet" if only #17 had been made after Waltzes from Vienna.

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