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directed by Henry Hathaway
USA 1956

Van Johnson (Battleground, The Caine Mutiny), Vera Miles (Psycho, The Wrong Man) and Cecil Parker (The Ladykillers, The Lady Vanishes) co-star in this Hitchcockian thriller directed by the great Henry Hathaway (Diplomatic Courier, Kiss of Death). A blind American writer living in London stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy involving a kidnapping and extortion. While drowning his sorrows at a local pub, Phil Hannon (Johnson) is convinced that he overheard a kidnapping plot. He immediately reports the incident to the police, but when they dismiss his suspicions, the courageous man takes matters into his own hands, using his four remaining senses to track down the criminals. Beautifully shot in color and in widescreen by legendary award-winning cinematographer Milton R. Krasner (Deadline U.S.A., Boy on a Dolphin).

***

Van Johnson portrays a blind American writer living in London. Blessed with an acute hearing sense, Johnson overhears a kidnapping plot but neither his friends nor the authorities believe him, chalking up his story as the product of a writer's imagination. Disgruntled, Johnson vows to scuttle the kidnapping himself -- with the assistant of his fiancée Vera Miles. Despite his handicap, Johnson puts the pieces together using sounds as evidence and guidance. Ultimately Johnson finds his life in danger when he corners the criminal in a dark alley. 23 Paces to Baker Street was one of several ''50s 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.
 

***

When a blind man overhears a kidnapping plot, the only thing more difficult than foiling it is getting someone to believe him. Without the help of friends or the authorities, the man, along with his fiancé, pieces together the clues of the mystery, all of which are sound.

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 27th, 1956

Reviews                                                           More Reviews                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Comparison: 

Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL vs. Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

   

Distribution

Twentieth Century Fox

Region 0 - NTSC

Odeon Entertainment

Region 0 - PAL

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:42:52 1:38:42 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:43:05.596   
Video

DVD cropped to 1.33:1
Average Bitrate: 5.25 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.4 mb/s
PAl 720x576 29.97 f/s

2.55:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 25,287,020,665 bytes

Feature: 23,358,038,016 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 26.72 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Fox

Bitrate Odeon

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English) Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit
(DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps

Subtitles None None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

Aspect Ratio:
Cropped to DVD  1.33:1

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: March 1st, 2013
Keep Case

Chapters 10

Release Information:
Studio:
Odeon Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 2.35:1 
aspect ratio

Edition Details:
• none

DVD Release Date: September 24th, 2012
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Kino
 

2.55:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 25,287,020,665 bytes

Feature: 23,358,038,016 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 26.72 Mbps

 

Edition Details:

• Audio Commentary by Film Historian Kent Jones
• Trailer for 23 Paces to Baker Street (2;15), Cast a Giant Shadow (3:38), Foreign Intrigue (1:55), The File of the Golden Goose (2:37) and When Eight Bells Toll (2:49)

Blu-ray Release Date: February 14th, 2017
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters:8

 

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray February 17': Kino's Blu-ray transfer is cited as a "Brand New 4K Restoration" in-and-around 2.55:1. OMG - I'll let the screen captures speak for themselves - the distortions, cropping, artifacts, color bleeding etc. of the SDs has been dramatically removed with Kino's 4K, 1080P, restoration!

Kino use a DTS-HD Master at 1556 kbps (16-bit). It exports the films important and subtle sounds competently. The score by Leigh Harline (The Enemy Below, Pickup on South Street, House of Bamboo, Broken Lance) strongly benefits over the lossy SDs. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Two things have escalated this film by orders of magnitude from my initial viewing on Fox DVD to now - the vastly improved HD visuals and the Kent Jones commentary. This is one of my favorite releases of the early year. 23 Paces to Baker Street is a film I can now revisit continuously - thank you Kino!

***

ON THE DVDs: Henry Hathaway is an clever storyteller and 23 Paces to Baker Street has a wonderful concept - the blind sleuth. There are plenty of curious locations that add to the conceptual difficulties of sightlessness and suspense is kept at a very high level. This is a very good film!.

The transfers are quite revealing and present a textbook case of how pan + scanning can destroy the integrity of a film's composition.  Why would Fox even bother releasing it like this? The NTSC disc misses so much information that it is not even the same film.

The mono sound is decent but unremarkable and there are no subtitles, nor supplements, offered on either disc.

Fox has done this a few times with their Cinema Archive series - and thank goodness we have a comparable disc available.

  - Gary Tooze

 



 

DVD Menus

 

(Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC RIGHT vs. Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL LEFT)
 

 

 

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



Caveat starting the Fox DVD presentation

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


Screen Captures

 

Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Twentieth Century Fox (Cinema Archives) - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

Odeon Entertainment - Region 0 - PAL MIDDLE

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

   

Distribution

Twentieth Century Fox

Region 0 - NTSC

Odeon Entertainment

Region 0 - PAL

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




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