23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)

Approved   |    |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller

23 Paces to Baker Street (1956) Poster

A blind American writer living in London stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy involving kidnapping and extortion.


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16 October 2012 | bkoganbing
| Blind Man's Bluff
Van Johnson's highly developed senses of sound and odor go a long way in 23 Paces To Baker Street. Although there's no reference at all to Baker Street's most famous resident in literature, Johnson turns out to be quite the detective himself although he had two premises initially wrong.

The blind Johnson is an American author living in London and keeping company with fellow expatriate Vera Miles. His only living companion is his valet Cecil Parker. While enjoying a drink at a nearby pub, he overhears what sounds like a criminal plot of kidnapping. Of course when he takes his suspicions to Scotland Yard they are understandably dubious.

Without sight and not being able to write apparently even braille, Johnson records the conversation on his tape recorder and goes over and over it.

What I liked about 23 Paces To Baker Street and Johnson's performance in it is that it shows Johnson making use of his other senses which in turn give him a kind of mission in life as opposed to being bitter about his fate. On the other hand he certainly has obvious vulnerabilities which the bad guys take advantage of. There is a harrowing scene in a bombed out building from the Blitz in which Johnson is nearly killed.

Young Natalie Norwood as an unwilling participant in the plot is also a standout here. And Patricia Laffan who was both Poppaea in Quo Vadis and the Devil Girl From Mars is equally villainous here.

Nice job all around with director Henry Hathaway getting great performances from Johnson, Miles, and the British cast supporting them.

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