"I tend to dwell more on the technical side of the these Hitchcock Laserlite DVDs, than the movies themselves and this one may end up being that way for no better reason than the fact that this movie is just plain confusing! My recent viewing of the film "Number 17" was only the second time I'd ever seen it and I can easily assure any reader of this essay that I am more confused than I was after the first viewing. I can't decribe the plot because I don't really know what's going on. It starts with a tramp and a seeming gentleman finding a dead body in an old house, then the victim's daughter happens upon the two men, the body disapears, some jewel theives come to the house and cause havoc, then somehow they all (including the dead man who's not dead) end up in a train which leads to the grand finale: a chase between the train and a tour bus that comes out of nowhere. The special minerature effects at the end have often gotten flack for looking fake, but I believe now, as I did with my first viewing, that they don't look any worse than King Kong's stop motion animation on top the Empire State Building.The second feature, "The Ring," is a lesser known and surprisingly entertaining Hitchcock silent drama about a circus ticket girl torn between two potential lovers: one a prize fighter, the other his sparring partner who happens to be the only man that can beat him. The plot sounds typical and forgettable, but don't let that fool you. Hitchcock adds a lot of very innovative visual flair to the film and the acting is pretty passionate not overly dramatic as a lot of silent acting performances tend to be.The DVD transfer of "Number 17" is fair. The sound is full of annoying hiss which can be reduced by turning off the surround sound and turning up the bass up on your stereo, the contrast is annoyingly jumpy (too bright in some scenes and too dark in others,) however, it does remain flat for the most part, which is better than scenes being washed out all the time like some film transfers. Of "The Ring," I understand that not everyone can handle the silent treatment, but the intelligently chosen mucial accompaniment by Laserlite makes the movie an easy one to get through, even though the film was transferred at a slow speed, making the movie about 15 miutes longer than it was intended to be.Rumor is Hitchcock was forced to do "Number 17" and even though it's far from his best film, it's almost just as far from his worst film too, and since it's obscure enough that it probably wont get a full-on restoration any time soon, it deserves a better treatment than what Laserlite has given it. But, to Laserlite's defense is the fact that they didn't have to release it at all and the low price tag on the disc plus the addition of "The Ring" makes it a good collectible for the budget-minded Hitchcock nut.3 stars to Hitchcock for his confusing but, at times, entertaining film "Number 17," and his entertaining Silent treat "The Ring" and 3 stars to Laserlite for trying but not trying harder."
J. Center | Wilmington, DE United States | 10/22/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm going to sit right in the middle of the fence on this one. I rather like Number 17 despite its all-too-apparent flaws. It's one of Hitch's least leisurely films, running only an hour and three minutes. The train/bus chase is wonderfully imagined, if you can get past the obvious model work. The characters ARE hard to keep track of -- none are particularly engaging -- yet you find yourself rather quickly engaged by them and the truly silly, convoluted plot.Unfortunately, Laserlight hasn't bothered with any restoration work, and the print is pretty awful on the DVD. The most that can be said is that it's not as bad as most of the Madacy prints and that, with the addition of the silent feature, The Ring, the DVD is a true value for the Hitchcock collector. And on that topic, The Ring has values of its own, including impressive performances by Carl Brisson and Ian Hunter. Sadly, Lilian Hall-Davis's heroine is mostly trashy and unattractive."
E. Parsons | 06/28/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"'Number 17' is surely a contender for Hitchcock's worst ever film. Good points? Well I suppose it is of interest to Hitchcock enthusiasts and to any die-hard early British film fanatics. The picture quality is not great but fairly watchable. But when it is obvious that Hitchcock himself could not care less about this picture you know roughly what to expect. Plot holes, long stagey scenes, actions by characters that just don't make any sense, the list goes on. Although, I suppose these faults may even help to make the film more interesting than it would otherwise have been - the tramp character that went to the Dick Van Dyke school of 'cockernee' accents certainly raises a chuckle. But without the name 'Hitchcock' in the film's credits I doubt if any video company would have attempted to market this DVD. As for 'The Ring', this is another good Hitchcock silent let down by poor picture quality. I own a restored PAL VHS version of 'The Ring' which is amazingly good quality. So if you're only after 'The Ring' I recommend you track down a better copy. And if you're wondering why I give this DVD two stars instead of one - well this is a budget DVD and Laserlight are at least prepared to release this old material so credit where it's due."
Marred by poor technical quality
L. F. Bailey | Leeds United Kingdom | 04/16/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Laserlight claim to have used the best available source material for the "best possible" transfer to DVD. I find this hard to believe. The picture lacks black/white contrast, is noticeably cropped and slightly rotated in the field of view. If you can get hold of a UK Universal copy of 'Number 17', you won't have any of these problems. (American readers beware that if you get a UK video it will be in PAL VHS format.) I haven't seen any other copy of 'The Ring', but I suspect the same criticism will hold.I rather like both these films. The Ring is very much a 1920s period-piece, but Hitchcock throws in occasional odd filming angles that seem ahead of their time. Number 17 does have a plot (despite disbelief elsewhere!), and there's a summary on the box. The scene where the hero and heroine are handcuffed to the bannister of a gallery in the Number 17 house is very Hitchcock. Worthwhile, but it needs a better transfer than this."
Poor pucture quality.
Paul J. Mular | San Carlos, CA USA | 02/10/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm actually a fan of "NUMBER 17", I like Hitchcock's use of light & shadow to create the mood. Yes it is a little slow & stagey, but I get engrosed by the visuals.
And there lies the problem with this Laserlight/Delta DVD. The picture quality is horrible, full of digital artifacting that makes the picture appear to freeze in sections then play again. The details get lost in the pixilation. How can you enjoy a visually engrosing movie if it looks terrible.
I have an old Japanese Laserdisc of this movie, and it looks much better! Japanese videos are NTSC format, so they will play on U.S. televisions. I would rather watch the Japanese Laserdisc with Japanese subtitles on screen that this awful Laserlight/Delta DVD.
And about "THE RING", Studio Canal / Lionsgate has released a nice 35mm mastered copy in a DVD box set: Alfred Hitchcock, The Early Years of the Master."