4 user 6 critic

Backlash (1947)

Passed | | Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery | 1 March 1947 (USA)
A man tries to frame his wife for a murder that he has committed.


Eugene Forde


Irving Elman (original story), Irving Elman (screenplay)


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Complete credited cast:
Jean Rogers ... Catherine Morland
Richard Travis ... Richard Conroy
Larry J. Blake ... Det. Lt. Jerry McMullen (as Larry Blake)
John Eldredge ... John Morland
Leonard Strong ... The Stranger / Willis - the Caretaker
Robert Shayne ... James O'Neil
Louise Currie ... Marian Gordon
Douglas Fowley ... Red Bailey
Sara Berner ... Dorothy - the Maid
Richard Benedict ... Det. Sgt. Tom Carey
Wynne Larke Wynne Larke ... Patricia McMullen
Susan Klimist 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) See more »

Also Known As:

Pecado mortal See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Catherine Morland (Jean Rogers) drives a 1941 Buick; detectives McMullen and Carey (Larry J. Blake & Richard Benedict) drive a 1941 Ford. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Spoofed in Hare Do (1949) See more »

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User Reviews

Ingenious B picture with multiple plot twists
23 September 2013 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This is one of those Twentieth Century Fox B pictures about crime and detection made in the forties, with little known actors (I am being polite, frankly they were and are more properly described as 'unknown', and only a few of the actors in such pictures became 'known', a prominent example being Lloyd Nolan, though he does not appear in this one). It is directed by the regular B picture director, Eugene Forde, who directed many Charlie Chan detective films. (It is a curious fact that Forde's real name was Ford, and that he added an 'e' on the end, which seems rather affected, don't you think?) The script is by Irving Elman, who the next year did the screenplays for the Bulldog Drummond films 13 LEAD SOLDIERS (1948, see my review) and THE CHALLENGE (1948, see my review). After those Drummond films, Elman only wrote for television and never returned to features. Immediately after doing BACKLASH, Elman worked again with Eugene Forde ('He with the E') twice again, and wrote JEWELS OF BRANDENBURG (1947) and THE CRIMSON KEY (1947), both directed by Forde. The plot of this film is somewhat contorted. A criminal lawyer meets up with a former criminal client who has just robbed a bank and wants to leave a bundle of money with him. Then the lawyer's car is found burnt out, having gone over a California cliff. What appears to be his body is inside, with .25 calibre bullets in the heart. (Strange that. Why .25? Why not .32? Was Elman unfamiliar with that inescapable American accessory, a gun?) Then the gun is found and it belongs to the lawyer's wife, who is having an affair with the District Attorney. Murkier and murkier! The criminal, with the literally colourful name of Red, disappears. But then he reappears. He says he did not kill the lawyer. The film is full of flashbacks when the various characters narrate their recollections to each other and to the police. These work very well. Who really wants to kill whom and why? Who is up to what? There are red herrings aplenty swimming around in circles, and some of them are salted. This is all good entertainment for those who enjoy crumby old black and white B pictures. I like watching them because I am absolutely fascinated by the manners and mores of the people portrayed, as they vary from decade to decade. Every decade, the character types cease to exist and are replaced by new types more typical of their times. For instance, if you searched the whole of America today from Maine to Florida and from South Carolina to Seattle, you could not find a single person like any of the characters in this film. They have all gone. There are no people like that anymore. Sociologists should give much more attention to these things, and should watch old movies like hawks for signs of vanishing species of individual. This film has only been reviewed by one other person, ten years ago, and he was absolutely right to call attention to the one strange expressionistic scene where two people, one a hobo (uncredited and what is more, unlisted as a character in the IMDb credits) and the other a desperate man on the run, both crouching in what was then called a 'flop' at night, are talking to one another. This unusual scene does indeed look like it came from another movie, and it is as if a different director and cameraman were used to shoot it. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what lay behind this anomaly? Well, we will never know, but it is fun to spot such things, and can even beat trying to guess whodunnit.

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