23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)

In IMDB user Schwenkstar’s Hollywood Giallo (+ Its Others) list, they state that this film pulls “the same trick Argento uses frequently in his films: a character sees/hears something but misinterprets it, misleading the character as well as the audience.”

Based on the Philip MacDonald book Warrant for X, this film also takes cues from Rear Window, placing a differently-abled person against criminals that came after them in the dark. This time, the hero is Philip Hannon (Van Johnson), a blind playwright who believes that the partial conversation he’s heard is related to a possible kidnapping that hasn’t even happened yet.

With the police disbelieving him, he is thrust into the role of the giallo hero: a stranger in a strange land and one even stranger because he only knows the steps from building to building and will never see this new skyline, a place that he’s escaped to in avoidance of his depression over his loss of sight. Those simmering feelings of a bleak future have led him to leave Jean (Vera Miles, who would soon appear in another essential giallo inspiring film, Psycho) behind in America, but she’s come to England which puts him even more off his hermetic path.

Director Henry Hathaway is probably best known for True Grit and The Sons of Katie Elder, but he put together a fun mystery here, a film that exists before the krimini and giallo yet has many of the things we’d later see in much more lurid tales.

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