Van Johnson plays a blind American writer who is renting an apartment on Baker Street while in London for the opening of his new play. After a row with his former fiancée (Vera Miles), he decamps to the local pub to drown his self-pity with a drink. There, his acute hearing picks up hushed snatches of conversation from the next booth. Convinced that a kidnap plot is in the offing, he rushes to the police, who are polite but refuse to believe him. However, Johnson knows what he heard is true and engages the help of Vera and Cecil Parker, his secretary, to find the kidnappers and save the unknown victim.
This terrific suspense film takes interesting chances with the genre. Johnson’s character is a study in frustration, a portrait of a man investigating something he knows exists but cannot see. The direction builds tension well and is supported by a fine musical background which heightens the mood.
23 Paces to Baker Street was one of several 20th Century-Fox films shot on location in London to take advantage of Fox’s “frozen funds” — money earned by the studio in England which by law could only be spent in that country. Continue reading