27 user 15 critic

Backfire (1950)

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.


Vincent Sherman


Lawrence B. Marcus (screenplay) (as Larry Marcus), Ivan Goff (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview:
Viveca Lindfors ... Lysa Radoff
Dane Clark ... Ben Arno / Lou Walsh
Virginia Mayo ... Nurse Julie Benson
Edmond O'Brien ... Steve Connelly
Gordon MacRae ... Bob Corey
Ed Begley ... Police Capt. Garcia
Frances Robinson ... Mrs. Blayne
Richard Rober ... Solly Blayne
Sheila MacRae ... Bonnie Willis (as Sheila Stephens)
David Hoffman ... Burns


Bob Corey, recovering from a series of operations in a Veterans' hospital, learns that his friend, Steve Connelly, with whom he intended to buy a ranch, has disappeared under circumstance that indicate he may have been involved in a murder. Accompanied by his nurse, Julie Benson, with whom he has fallen in love, Bob follows a series of clues and incidents, including three more murders, that leads to a gambler, masquerading as an undertaker to avoid taxes on his illegal income, has a whole lot to do with his friend's predicament. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


That "White Heat" girl turns it on again!..


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

11 February 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Somewhere in the City See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The IMDb cast list reflects the order in the original 1948 designed screen credits; however, in the 2 years before it was eventually released theatrically, the stature of the players had changed dramatically, and so the 1950 designed advertising material lists them in a much revised order: Mayo and MacRae in large type above the title, O'Brien, Clark, and Lindfors in that order, in much smaller type below the title. See more »


Every time one of the principals takes a cab, it's always the same 1936 De Soto which had been part of the WB studio inventory since the mid-1930s, and was still being used in films, although by the time this one was made, post-WWII 1946-1947-1948 De Sotos had become the norm on most city streets. Likewise, the police chief of Los Angeles is still running around in another long time pre-WWII WB veteran vehicle, a 1940 Buick 4-door sedan. See more »


Lysa Radoff: How do you fit into the picture, Mr. Connolly?
Steve Connelly: I work for Lou - new boy - sort of a handyman.
Lysa Radoff: And where did he find you?
Steve Connelly: A sale... war surplus... big reduction.
Bonnie Willis: He's not only cute - he's funny.
Steve Connelly: Part of my job. Evey hour on the hour, a joke.
Lysa Radoff: Lou likes jokes. He'll like you. You're amusing, Mr. Connolly... and hard.
Steve Connelly: It's a hard world.
See more »


Referenced in Major Crimes: Poster Boy (2013) See more »


Deck the Halls
Traditional tune, lyrics by Thomas Oliphant
Played during the scene at the Canyon house
See more »

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User Reviews

Returning vets drawn into cesspool of postwar Los Angeles
29 October 2001 | by bmacvSee all my 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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