23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Crime, Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - May 18, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

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.