The Film (3.5/5)
23 Paces to Baker Street was a film that, if not for Kino Lorber releasing it on Blu-ray would have gone under my radar and wouldn’t have ever seen this gem of a film. A blind American writer, Phillip Hannon(Van Johnson, The Caine Mutiny, In the Good Old Summertime), is living in London working on doing some revisions in a new play. The recent loss of his sight has made him a disgruntled man, who is living much more recluse. So unhappy with life, Hannon ended his engagement with his fiancée, Jean Lennox (Psycho, The Initiation). One night, while in a bar, drinking away his sorrows over being blind, he overhears two people finishing a conversation that sounds like a kidnapping plot. Unable to convince the police that he feels something corrupt going on based on what he heard, Hannon beings his own investigation along with Jean and his servant Bob Mathews (Cecil Parker, Psycho-Circus, Under Capricorn) to discover the truth. With the help of both Jean and Bob and the use his other senses, smell and sound, he is able to track down the kidnapper, which has also put his own life in danger.
23 Paces to Baker Street is a terrific film, beautifully shot, with some suspenseful moments. The film has a genuinely atmospheric scene taking place in the London fog. Anything with fog will create superior atmosphere in films! The climactic scene between Hannon and the person named Mr. Evans is unforgettable with a little twist. In some aspects, the film will seem like it had the Alfred Hitchcock touch, with the right amount of suspense and some great dialog. The film to me was a cross between The Man Who Knew Too Much and Wait Until Dark The film flows well under Henry Hathaway’s direction, and the veteran cast turns in splendid performances.
Fans of the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, aka MST3K should take note as a somewhat younger looking Estelle Winwood (immortalized on the show due to her performance and ‘coverage’ in The Magic Sword) has a few scenes in this movie.
Despite the title with the words Baker Street, rest assured this fine film has nothing to with Sherlock Holmes. In fact the street is referred to one time during the 103 minutes of the film.
Kino Lorber releases 23 Paces to Baker Street on Blu-ray and it is very much so visually appealing. For certain, it’s a revelation to those who have only owned the 2013 Fox DVD release of the film. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 with a 1080p, MPEG 4 AVC encode, the colors are as sharp and bold as they ever will be; both daylight and evening scenes are as crisp, just an awesome spectacle to behold. An extensive clean-up was done for this release in order for it to look as wonderful as this. It absolutely makes a mockery of the horrible Fox DVD release from 2013 which was cropped full frame and of dark murky VHS-like quality. Now you can see everything much, much more clearly and you can see what’s happening on both sides of the frame without the cropping.
The audio used for this release is the usual Kino DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 and it is more than serviceable. Dialog, music, screams and gunshots are all loud and clear.
Kino has provided some supplements for this release as well. Extras for this release include
An audio commentary by film historian Kent Jones and trailers for 23 Paces to Baker Street Cast a Giant Shadow, Foreign Intrigue, The File of the Golden Goose and When Eight Bells Toll
23 Paces to Baker Street is a brilliant film, now can be enjoyed with both top notch audio and video quality. A commentary and some trailers make this release a no-brainer. Kudos to Kino Lorber !