Back Street (1961)

 |  Drama  |  12 October 1961 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 690 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 2 critic

Ambitious but thwarted, Rae Smith meets handsome Marine Paul Saxon, (of the Saxon department store chain), as he passes through Lincoln, Nebraska, on his way home from World War II. There's... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Back Street (1941)
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Pretty Rae Smith and handsome Walter Saxel meet, fall in love and make plans to marry. Unfortunately, their marriage plans get sabotaged when a jealous beau makes Rae miss the ceremony. The... See full summary »

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Charles Boyer, Margaret Sullavan, Richard Carlson


Cast overview, first billed only:
Rae Smith
Paul Saxon
Liz Saxon
Charles Drake ...
Virginia Grey ...
Janey nee Smith
Tammy Marihugh ...
Robert Eyer ...
Paul Saxon Jr.
Mrs. Evans
Doreen McLean ...
Miss Hatfield
Alex Gerry ...
Mr. Venner
Karen Norris ...
Mrs. Penworth
Charley Claypole
Mary Lawrence ...
Marge Claypole
Joseph Cronin ...
Airport Clerk


Ambitious but thwarted, Rae Smith meets handsome Marine Paul Saxon, (of the Saxon department store chain), as he passes through Lincoln, Nebraska, on his way home from World War II. There's a definite spark between them but circumstances intervene and he leaves town without her. Later she learns he's married. Determined to make it as a fashion designer, Rae moves to New York and becomes a great success. One day she happens to meet Paul again and again there's that spark but he's still married so, as a form of escape, Rae moves to Rome to set up shop. Once again she meets Paul and finally they begin an actual affair since Paul's shrewish, drunken wife, Liz, won't give him a divorce. Time passes, the affair continues whenever time and place permit, but then, Paul's young son finds out about Rae and Rae's back-street world begins to crumble. Written by dinky-4 of Minneapolis

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Release Date:

12 October 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La calle de atrás  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


John Gavin and Vera Miles play husband and wife in this film, however, it marks their reunion just one year after playing Janet Leigh's boyfriend and sister, respectively, in Alfred Hitchock's iconic thriller, "Psycho". See more »


Paul Saxon: Liz! A few more drinks, and you'll fall flat on your face!
Liz Saxon: Let's find out!
See more »


Version of Back Street (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

Wooden, Glossy Romance
9 February 2003 | by (San Francisco,CA,USA) – See all my reviews

The two things you can always count on with a Ross Hunter film are big stars and lavish set pieces, and "Back Street" does not disappoint. Susan Hayward and John Gavin are here, in their glossed-up best, as doomed lovers thrown together and then torn apart by circumstance. Their longing glances, surrounded lovingly by Hunter's fetish for color and music, are uber-dramatic and unconvincing. Gavin, while aesthetically-stunning, is as stiff as a board. So, is Hayward, although she tends to be able to emote a little bit more. The real "star" of this film is Vera Miles. She livens up the proceedings as Gavin's psychotic, alcoholic wife. She is the only one here who's emotions really come across as legitimate. Nonetheless, "Back Street" does accomplish what it sets out to do - it wraps up a neat, tidy story into 2 hours of lush soap opera with big names who go through all the sudsy motions. This movie wants to be a Douglas Sirk film, but comes across as something much less. Ross Hunter scores big here with his awesome production values, though. And Frank Skinner, as usual, provides a solid, thunderous score. For fans of classic melodrama only.

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