23 Paces to Baker Street

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23 Paces to Baker Street
23 Paces to Baker Street (movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release lobby card
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Produced by Henry Ephron
Screenplay by Nigel Balchin
Based on Novel by
Philip MacDonald
Starring Van Johnson
Vera Miles
Cecil Parker
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Milton R. Krasner
Edited by James B. Clark
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
May 18, 1956
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,375,000[1]
Box office $1 million (US rentals)[2]

23 Paces to Baker Street is a 1956 American mystery thriller film released by 20th Century Fox. It stars Van Johnson and Vera Miles.

Filmed in Cinemascope on location in London, the film focuses on Philip Hannon (Van Johnson), a blind playwright who overhears a partial conversation he believes is related to the planning of a kidnapping. When the authorities fail to take action because they believe his story is the product of a writer's fertile imagination, Hannon searches for the child with the help of his butler and fiancée, using his acute sense of hearing to gather evidence and serve as guidance. The plotline of the film bears some resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window of 1954,[opinion] which also features a disabled protagonist witnessing a crime, which the police refuse to take seriously, therefore placing him in danger and culminating in a final standoff with the killer in the protagonist's darkened apartment.

Nigel Balchin's screenplay, based on a novel by Philip MacDonald, was directed by Henry Hathaway.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Philip Hannon (Van Johnson) is a blind man who lives in London flat with a spectacular view over the Thames river between Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Station, with his trusted butler Bob Matthews (Cecil Parker); he works as a playwright. One day, he overhears part of a conversation in his local pub that involves a child who had been kidnapped. He tries to contact inspector Grovening (Maurice Denham), but offers no help, so he teams up with his butler and his ex-fiancée Jean (Vera Miles) who is over from America, to bring the kidnappers to justice. Their sleuthing soon leads them to a nanny agency with dire repercussions.



In his review in The New York Times, Bosley Crowther observed, "a large part of this picture is curiously casual and slow, as Van Johnson, as the blind man, bores the mischief out of everybody with his hazy suspicions . . . . for that matter, he bores the audience, too. Lots of unimpressed fellows were ho-humming in the balcony at Loew's State yesterday . . . matters do start popping about half or two-thirds of the way along, when it is finally discovered, through various coincidences, that something has been cooking all the time. But you have to depend on Mr. Johnson — and Nigel Balchin, the screenwriter — to give you the details after they've been discovered. This is not a good way to get people interested in a mystery show . . . it would be a more exciting picture if it got going with a little more snap, established a more compelling mystery and built up some genuine suspense."[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p250.
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957.
  3. ^ The New York Times review

External links[edit]