Five Steps to Danger was adapted from thenovel The Steel Mirror by Donald Hamilton. When her scientist brother is killed in East Berlin, Ruth Roman finds herself in possession of a secret code, engraved on the back of a mirror. To prevent Ruth from delivering the secret information to the authorities, double agent Werner Klemperer has her committed to a mental institution. She finds an unlikely savior in the form of misanthropic drifter Sterling Hayden. Producer-director Henry S. Kesler also penned the numbingly complicated screenplay.