Backlash (1956)

83-84 mins | Western | April 1956

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HISTORY

In Feb 1955, the "Rambling Reporter" column in HR reported that Tommy Cook would play "the villain" in this picture, but he does not appear in the final film. According to studio press materials and news items, Backlash was shot in various locations in Arizona, including Tucson and the Vaca Ranch near Nogales. Press materials add that director John Sturges hired several hundred Papago Native Americans to play Indians in the picture. Modern sources add Kermit Maynard to the cast ... More Less

In Feb 1955, the "Rambling Reporter" column in HR reported that Tommy Cook would play "the villain" in this picture, but he does not appear in the final film. According to studio press materials and news items, Backlash was shot in various locations in Arizona, including Tucson and the Vaca Ranch near Nogales. Press materials add that director John Sturges hired several hundred Papago Native Americans to play Indians in the picture. Modern sources add Kermit Maynard to the cast list. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
3 Mar 1956.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 1956
p. 3.
Film Daily
2 Mar 1956
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jun 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1955
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1955
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 1955
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1956
p. 2.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Mar 1956
p. 801.
New York Times
21 Apr 1956
p. 11.
Variety
7 Mar 1956
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Fort Starvation by Frank Gruber (New York, 1953).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1956
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Houston, TX: 14 March 1956
Los Angeles opening: 14 March 1956
New York opening: 20 April 1956
Production Date:
early June--early July 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
8 February 1956
Copyright Number:
LP5927
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
up to 2:1
Duration(in mins):
83-84
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17659
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the late 1800s in Gila Valley, Arizona, Jim Slater searches an old grave for the remains of his father William, who years before was part of a group of men who acquired $60,000, thought to be in gold, and then were killed by marauding Indians. Jim is out to avenge his father, who abandoned his family decades earlier, and believes that one of his father's group escaped with the money and deliberately failed to report the Indian attack to authorities. Karyl Orton, who thinks that her estranged husband Paul was also part of the Gila Valley gold rushers, finds Jim at the gravesite and figures he is competing with her to find the $60,000. When deputy sheriff Tomm Welker begins shooting at Jim from atop the hillside, Jim finally kills Tomm and has Karyl, whom he assumes is in cahoots with Tomm, assist him in bringing the body to Sheriff J. C. Marson. Marson, who like everyone else believes that only five men were present in Gila Valley, questions Jim about why he feels that a sixth man escaped. Marson informs Jim that Tomm's brother was one of the five murdered men, and has two brothers, Jeff and Tony, who will stop at nothing to seek revenge. After Jim refuses to leave town, Marson tips him off that Sgt. George Lake buried the bodies and may have additional information. Jim heads straight to the Army post, where he discovers that Lake is guarding Benton's Trading Post from Indians seeking retribution for shoddy rifles they bought at the post. Karyl, who has been following the same path, is also at Benton's, and along with Lake, his few soldiers and ... +


In the late 1800s in Gila Valley, Arizona, Jim Slater searches an old grave for the remains of his father William, who years before was part of a group of men who acquired $60,000, thought to be in gold, and then were killed by marauding Indians. Jim is out to avenge his father, who abandoned his family decades earlier, and believes that one of his father's group escaped with the money and deliberately failed to report the Indian attack to authorities. Karyl Orton, who thinks that her estranged husband Paul was also part of the Gila Valley gold rushers, finds Jim at the gravesite and figures he is competing with her to find the $60,000. When deputy sheriff Tomm Welker begins shooting at Jim from atop the hillside, Jim finally kills Tomm and has Karyl, whom he assumes is in cahoots with Tomm, assist him in bringing the body to Sheriff J. C. Marson. Marson, who like everyone else believes that only five men were present in Gila Valley, questions Jim about why he feels that a sixth man escaped. Marson informs Jim that Tomm's brother was one of the five murdered men, and has two brothers, Jeff and Tony, who will stop at nothing to seek revenge. After Jim refuses to leave town, Marson tips him off that Sgt. George Lake buried the bodies and may have additional information. Jim heads straight to the Army post, where he discovers that Lake is guarding Benton's Trading Post from Indians seeking retribution for shoddy rifles they bought at the post. Karyl, who has been following the same path, is also at Benton's, and along with Lake, his few soldiers and Karyl's coach drivers, awaits the next, presumably fatal, Indian attack. Lake refuses to answer either Karyl's or Jim's questions, but that night turns to Jeff for help in stampeding the Indians' horses, in order to give the group in the trading post enough time to flee. Before leaving, Jim grabs Karyl and kisses her, and she slaps him. He and Lake then sneak into the hills, kill the Indian guard, release the horses and race after the escaping coach, with the Indians close behind. Lake is shot in the chest, and before dying reveals to Jim what he found in Gila Valley: five dead bodies, three of whom were identified and one of whom was missing a hand, and one extra horse with a Diamond C Ranch brand. Soon after, Jeff and Tony Welker search for Jim in the hotel near the trading post, and when Karyl arrives there and mentions Jim's name, Jeff forces her up the stairs to question her. Just then, Jim walks in and once again assumes she is in league with the Welkers. In spite, Karyl calls out his name, prompting the brothers to draw their guns, but Jim quickly kills Jeff and wounds Tony. Karyl finds Jim on the trail to Texas that night and attends to the bullet wound he has received on his shoulder, using her shirt as a bandage. Karyl ignores Jim's gruff manner and explains that Paul was a Confederate soldier who, upon hearing what his wife did to survive during the war, refused to return to her. In return, Jim reveals what Lake told him, and after he falls asleep, she reads an old letter from Jim's father inviting Jim to visit. The next day, while they travel cheerfully, Jim admits that he would like to settle down, but must first learn the truth about his father's end. They soon arrive at the Diamond C Ranch, owned by Maj. Carson, who explains that neighboring rancher Jim Bonniwell arrived years before with $60,000 and rustled cattle until he built up a ranching empire. Bonniwell also brought Carson a photograph of his nephew, who had lost a hand in the war and died in Gila Valley. Now knowing that his father and Karyl's husband were the fifth and sixth men in Gila Valley, Jim nervously sets out to discover if the nefarious Bonniwell is his father. Although Karyl, not wanting either of them to be hurt, begs him to stay with her, Jim roughly tells her that he must finish his search, even if it means killing his own father. While he leaves, Carson notifies Sheriff Olson that he and the neighboring ranchers will attack Bonniwell the next morning. That night in a saloon, Carson's hotheaded, sharpshooting ranchhand Johnny Cool is warning Bonniwell to reinforce his men when Jim enters. Johnny immediately picks a fight with Jim, but Bonniwell, for reasons he does not understand, stops him. Later, Olson overhears Jim asking about Bonniwell and, assuming Jim is a traitor to Carson, arrests him. In the morning, Karyl arrives at the local bar, and when she asks after Jim, Tony appears and grabs her. Just then, Johnny enters looking for Jim, and challenges Tony to a duel, beating him easily. He is distracted away from Karyl by Bonniwell and his men, who are descending on the town to ambush Carson's men. Bonniwell kills Olson and enters the jail, where Jim soon identifies him as his father. As Karyl joins Jim, Bonniwell explains that the $60,000 came not from gold but from a bank heist Paul pulled, after which the other five men took Bonniwell's gun and threw him out. Knowing, however, that Bonniwell still refused to save them from the Indians, Jim remains horrified to learn that he has such dishonest blood. Just then, Johnny challenges Jim to a duel, which Jim wins, prompting Bonniwell to call him a true Slater. While they await Carson's group, Karyl reassures Jim that he is a good man, but an unconvinced Jim declares he must stay to help Carson. Hearing only that he plans to stay, Bonniwell celebrates and orders his men not to shoot, as the noise will alert the approaching Carson. Jim runs into the street to shoot but finds that Bonniwell has removed his bullets. Bonniwell then chases his son with a knife, while Jim tackles a ranchhand and fires his gun, provoking Carson's men to surround the town center. Bonniwell's men quickly flee, shooting Jim as they go. Bonniwell challenges Jim to a duel but, before he can cheat and kill his son, one of Carson's men kills him. Jim stands over his father's body and flings away his gun, then turns to Karyl to help him leave the now deserted town. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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