23 Paces to Baker Street is a moderately engaging thriller that lacks only that mysterious "Hitchcock" touch. Not that director Henry Hathaway has done a shabby job in bringing Paces to the screen. His work is stylish enough and he creates an atmosphere so thick you can practically touch it. The fogs, the mists, the shadows, the angles -- they're all there, and so is a very good sense of suspense and a fine ability at creating tension. Yet for all this skill, Hathaway somehow doesn't made the proceedings as fun, as ghoulishly delightful, as we want them to be. If the story itself were grittier, that would be fine; but the "depths" of the story are not real, just an excuse for the dramatics and the fireworks that they entail. The screenplay also has a few slow spots, but on the whole it's a respectable piece of work. And Van Johnson, Vera Miles and Cecil Parker are very good, forming a trio that we're glad to spend time with; Miles is especially good. There's also some very fine support, especially from Patricia Laffan, a nifty Leigh Harline score and appropriately moody camerawork from Milton Krasner. Everything is good, the whole film works -- but it still manages to not come together in the way that one keeps hoping it will.
With 23 Paces To Baker Street, Hathaway turned away from pure noir into more Hitchcockian territory, and indeed the film bears some comparison with . In 's film, plays a photographer, debilitated by a broken leg, who gets embroiled in a mystery after witnessing incidents in the apartments opposite his own. Here, Van Johnson stars as a playwright debilitated by blindness, who gets embroiled in a mystery after overhearing part of a conversation.
A CLEVER idea is the basis for "23 Paces to Baker Street," a Twentieth Century-Fox mystery drama, which came to Loew's State yesterday. It is that a keen and careful blind man should lead the halt—which is to say, the police—in ferreting out and foiling a plot for a particularly noxious crime.