Beefing on Hitchcock
On its initial release, audiences reacted to Number Seventeen with confusion and disappointment. The film is not often seen nowadays, but continues with generally negative reviews with critics from Rotten Tomatoes noting the film as, "highly entertaining but practically incomprehensible" and as an "unsatisfactory early tongue-in-cheek comedy/suspense yarn". In the Hitchcock/Truffaut book (see above), Francois Truffaut has a similar verdict, telling Hitchcock he had found the film "quite funny, but the story was rather confusing".I think that about sums it up. If you want a story summary, the Wikipedia page provides that as well... although I hardly was able to make any sense of it. To use the word "convoluted" is a bit of an understatement. I actually watched the film twice in hopes that maybe it would seem a bit less cluttered, but alas... It still felt like a good half of it should have been left out to streamline the story just a touch.
From what I've heard, Hitchcock had no desire to make this film at all, but was made to do it as a sort of "punishment" for the failure of his prior films. It's really no wonder this was his final movie with British International Pictures. He was never fond of the lack of freedom in story choices, and if anything they clearly were a stifle to his talent.
So yeah... Obviously, I would never ever recommend this movie to anyone. Maybe someday I'll gain some appreciation for it, but I don't see that happening any time soon.