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Jim Slater's father (whom he never knew) died in the Apache ambush at Gila Valley, and Jim is searching for the one survivor, who supposedly went for help but disappeared with a lot of gold. In the process, he gets several people gunning for him, and he keeps meeting liberated woman Karyl Orton, who may be on a similar mission. Renewed Apache hostilities and an impending range war provide complications. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
There's things a man has to know and has to do, and it's best that he does them alone.
Backlash (1956) is directed by John Sturges and adapted by Borden Chase from the novel written by Frank Gruber. It stars Richard Widmark, Donna Reed, John McIntire & William Campbell. It's shot in Technicolor by Irving Glassberg on location in Tuscon, Arizona.
1870 Arizona, and Jim Slater (Widmark) is searching for the truth about what happened to his father during the Apache ambush at Gila Valley. This brings him into contact with strong willed Karyl Orton (Reed), who courtesy of her missing husband also has an interest in the events of that raid. Missing family members and missing gold, the can is now open and worms are pouring out every where.
It's about the writing and the characters here. From the off it should be known that this is no high octane actioner. We are dealing in a mystery, with what amounts to a detective story played out in a Western theme. It's a touch unusual but never less than interesting as Chases' unconventional script gives birth to a myriad of characters, some complex, others just stock genre story fleshers. There's some clichés spliced within the piece, but they are off set by some nice twists in the story. And while this is no Anthony Mann/Borden Chase psychologically tinted production, it doesn't cop out with its big decisions. Glassberg's cinematography is first class, really vibrant and bursting out from the screen as they nicely film it on location of where the story is set. The cast is real strong. Widmark is excellent as the tough as nails hero and Reed looks stunning whilst neatly essaying a prickly femme fatale type. McIntire gives another classy supporting turn and Campbell is enjoyably OTT as hothead gunslinger Johnny Cool.
The principals have all done far better work in the genre, but this is a nice change of pace for all of them. It's unlikely to raise the pulses of the action seeking fan, but for those of a more literary persuasion this should hit the spot. 7/10
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