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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

23 Paces To Baker Street (1956)

After an accident leaves him blind, a bitter American playwright (Van Johnson) breaks off his engagement and moves to London to open a new play. But at a pub, he overhears part of a conversation that indicates some terrible crime is about to take place. When the police chalk up his story to a writer's exaggeration, he begins to investigate on his own. This neat little thriller is based on the novel by the popular mystery writer Philip MacDonald (LIST OF ADRIAN MESSENGER). For a thriller, the pace is very languid but the clues are there for the viewer to discover (I put two and two together twice) and the film has an amusingly clever finale. So much so that it was "borrowed" by Frederick Knott for WAIT UNTIL DARK some years later. There's an air of Hitchcock about the film especially during Cecil Parker's tracking of Patricia Laffan. Johnson does quite well as the playwright balancing the self pity with bursts of intense enthusiasm. While Vera Miles doesn't have much to do as Johnson's ex-fiancee except worry, Cecil Parker is quite entertaining as Johnson's put upon man servant. Directed by Henry Hathaway. The CinemaScope lensing is by Milton Krasner (THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN) where the exteriors were actually shot in London (the interiors were shot on the 20th Century Fox lot) thus insuring an authentic atmosphere. With Maurice Denham, Isobel Elsom, Estelle Winwood and Martin Benson..

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