A man tries to frame his wife for a murder that he has committed.



(original story), (screenplay)
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Complete credited cast:
Jean Rogers ...
Larry J. Blake ...
Det. Lt. Jerry McMullen (as Larry Blake)
John Eldredge ...
Leonard Strong ...
The Stranger / Willis - the Caretaker
James O'Neil
Louise Currie ...
Marian Gordon
Red Bailey
Sara Berner ...
Dorothy - the Maid
Richard Benedict ...
Det. Sgt. Tom Carey
Wynne Larke ...
Patricia McMullen
Susan Klimist ...
Maureen McMullen


A body, believed to be that of a criminal lawyer, sends the police hunting for the killer. The lawyer's wife, his partner, and an ex-convict are, in turn, suspected of the crime. But the body was incorrectly identified, and the lawyer is still alive. He murders his partner and is planning on killing his wife. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Release Date:

1 March 1947 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Spoofed in Hare Do (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

Det. Larry J. Blake wants to know who murdered John Eldredge
30 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Backlash" is a b-picture, a tight and very well-written murder mystery, and a noir. It's by no means a conventional mystery, not at all. It's constantly changing perspectives, employs several flashbacks, and has an undertone of almost everyone except the two detectives being off-base or involved in questionable doings.

We have a solid team on this picture.

The producer was Sol M. Wurtzel who did several of these good noirs for Twentieth-Century Fox, some others being "The Crimson Key," "Second Chance", "Invisible Wall" and "Roses Are Red". "Invisible Wall" is a favorite of mine. "Backlash" is not bad, either.

The writer was Irving Elman. He had already written "Accomplice" and would go on to do a Bulldog Drummond ("The Challenge") and a mystery with Tom Conway ("Thirteen Lead Soldiers").

As for the cast, the lead detective was unknown to me, Larry Blake. He was very experienced, however, having had numerous uncredited roles. With a deep voice and rugged visage, he makes for a solid lead. His voice reminds me of someone better known, but I can't place who. The story weaves in a robber (Douglas Fowley) with several lawyers (John Eldredge and Robert Shayne). The D.A. is Richard Travis. Eldredge's wife is Jean Rogers. These are familiar faces in b-movies and several were first with major studios.

The plot of "Backlash" is best left unexplained. It's too complex to explain without giving the story away anyway. It seems to keep shifting suspicion as it goes along from one person to another. It starts with Eldredge picking up Fowley after a robbery done by Fowley. They know each other, and Eldredge takes Fowley to his out of the way lodge. Subsequently, Eldredge's car is found wrecked and a body burned beyond recognition found inside. This is presumably Eldredge, but neither the police nor we are sure. The police question Eldredge's partner Shayne, who seems pretty slippery and shady, and we already know that Eldredge was shady. Shayne is close to Fowley's girl friend. Travis is close to Eldredge's wife. Plenty of possibilities here.

The film gets more and more noir as it wears on, particularly in the way the director (Eugene Forde) films Eldredge, the way he is lit, and the way Eldredge conveys his character. Fowley is also filmed in dark ways or with unusual perspective at times. This film is not told as a conventional murder mystery and it's not filmed that way either. The sidekick of Blake (Richard Benedict) provides some comic relief, but it's not overdone. Wurtzel would use Forde in his subsequent noirs. Everyone who sees the film recognizes that there is one jewel of a scene between Eldredge and a bum (Leonard Strong).

The film's main problem is a lack of action. It's dialog heavy with scenes of people talking to one another. I noticed that sometimes the dialog had its rhythm just a tad off or slow.

I am going easier on this film than a critic like Paul Mavis of dvdtalk in his review of the DVD. I like these old films and recognize that many were made for a weekly double feature, on a limited budget, and without artistic pretensions. So I'm easier on them. I'm more likely to be tough on the big budget empty-headed flops of today that do pretend to be terrific and often fall down even on pretentious acting.

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