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IMDB Rating: 6.5/10 from PASSED votes
Release: 11 Feb 1950 /


Genre: Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery
Director: Vincent Sherman,
Stars: , ,
Synopsis: While recuperating from wartime back injuries at a hospital, veteran Bob Corey is visited on Christmas Eve by a beautiful stranger with an even stranger message.

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Critic Reviews

The dislocation felt by returning servicemen was one of the chief topical themes of the film noir cycle. After being primed to take risks but no prisoners in the anarchic and violent theaters of World War, many found it hard to ratchet back down upon their return to an often jarringly altered society. Amnesia was the primary noir metaphor -- having to reconstruct an entire past life from scratch. Others faced having to cope with disabilities; still others, having spent the "best years of their lives" in hellholes abroad, weren't about to wait for the high life on the installment plan.

Backfire forgoes amnesia for the latter two categories. Gordon MacRae recuperates from spinal-cord injuries in a veterans' hospital until he can get out and buy a ranch with army buddy Edmond O'Brien, who abruptly vanishes. Upon release, MacRae sets out to track him down through the labyrinthine underbelly of postwar Los Angeles. It looks like O'Brien got mixed up with heavy gamblers, and is in fact wanted for apparently murdering a syndicate kingpin. MacRae is aided in his quest by his nurse (Virginia Mayo, good as a good gal for once) but thrown off the trail by a mysterious foreigner (Viveca Lindfors, as a discount-chain Ingrid Bergman). But, as always in the noir scheme, things are rarely what they at first seem....

No masterpiece, Backfire nevertheless keeps up the pace and the suspense, drawing (like Somewhere in the Night) on themes and formats that were central concerns of the cycle.

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