The Hitchcock Chase Is On
Sixth Of Seven Hitchcocks: Number Seventeen (1932)
So this was Hitchcock kidding a hoary melodrama to which he'd been assigned, says bios of the director, and straight narrative does jump tracks long before a special-fx train that figures into frenzied climactic chase. Was emerging AH sophistication already beginning to oppose a thriller genre to which he'd devote career-long effort? You could say Hitchcock spent a lifetime sending up suspense, but he'd not again make such sport of it as here, humor plus stress being recipe he'd blend better over success years to come. Number Seventeen, then, came closest to "camp" as Hitchcock would venture, and if followers value result for anything, it is that. Others, however, may find NS a challenge to wakefulness, especially a first half that takes place entirely on or about a dark staircase to which myriad characters gather. The story's a thicket and thick accents make it more so. There's inevitable business with handcuffs and both women of the cast are patted down for clues, Hitchcock and team pitching jokes a little high/wide for general audiences then or now.
Word passed down is that Hitchcock was "guying" his bosses, this a South African term for doing something to make another person "look stupid, inferior, unpopular, or ... like a general ass." Well, if that was Hitchcock's attitude toward B.I.P. oversee, it's no wonder he'd decamp from there after one more picture (Waltzes From Vienna). Mockery was lubricated by cocktail Hitchcock served to writers called a "white lady," which according to biographer Patrick McGilligan, was mix of "gin, egg whites, light cream, and superfine sugar." Sounds like potential for guests and host getting guyed before an evening was out, but much of AH creativity was powered on exotic drink; he felt it made better for exchange of ideas and was probably right. Could creativity still be enhanced with a white lady for escort? Maybe I should have fixed one as accompany to this post, but for 5AM write-time and chance the thing would guy my stomach for remainder of a day. The part of Number Seventeen I did like best, and watched twice, was sock finish with a miniature bus chasing a toy train, us to believe (or not) that both are real. Film school faculty would say Hitchcock didn't care one or the other way, that faking was bald as overall joke of Number Seventeen, but these effects, hemmed by B.I.P. budget, still pulse-pound and make me wish Hitchcock had got his first