AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Backfire
Alternate Title: Somewhere in the City
Director: Vincent Sherman (Dir)
Release Date:   11 Feb 1950
Production Date:   late Jul--early Oct 1948
Duration (in mins):   91-92
Duration (in feet):   8,156
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Cast:   Viveca Lindfors (Lysa Radolph)  
    Dane Clark (Ben Arno, also known as Lou Walsh)  
    Virginia Mayo (Julie Benson)  
    Edmond O'Brien (Steve Connolly)  
    Gordon MacRae (Bob Corey)  
    Ed Begley (Captain Garcia)  
    Frances Robinson (Mrs. Blayne)  
    Richard Rober (Solly Blayne)  
    Sheila Stephens (Bonnie Willis)  
    David Hoffman (Burns)  
    Monte Blue (Det. Sgt. Pluthner)  
    Ida Moore (Sybil)  
    Leonard Strong (Quong)  
    John Ridgely (Plainclothesman)  
    Ray Montgomery (Attendant)  
    Charles Jordan (Cab driver)  
    Will Lee (Cab driver)  
    Clifton Young (Cab driver)  
    Philo McCullough (Police car driver)  
    Mack Williams (Dr. Anstead)  
    Helen Westcott (Receptionist)  
    John Daheim (Bingo, prize fighter)  
    John Arnold (Waiter)  
    Santiago Martinez (Waiter)  
    Harry Seymour (Rocky, pianist)  
    Ernie Anderson (James, black servant)  
    John Dehner (Blake, plainclothesman)  
    Mike Kilian (Doctor)  
    J. Louis Johnson (Hommel)  
    Fred Kelsey    

Summary: Bob Corey, who is recovering from a series of spinal operations at the Birmingham Veterans' Hospital in Van Nuys, California, is very worried about the disappearance of his friend, Steve Connolly, with whom he intends to run a ranch after he leaves the hospital. One night, a strange woman comes into Bob's room and informs him that Steve has been badly hurt. Bob, who has been drugged to help him sleep, groggily promises to join her in ten days, and she writes down her address. Later, however, Bob cannot find the address, and the doctor suggests that the woman was an hallucination. After Bob leaves the hospital, the police, who are investigating the murder of gambler Solly Blayne, question him about Steve, who is their main suspect. The police explain that on the night Blayne was killed, he quarreled with Steve at his hotel. After the murder, Steve disappeared and has not been seen since. Convinced that Steve is innocent, Bob tells the police about his mysterious visitor, and they promise to investigate. Bob then checks into Steve's hotel room, where Sybil, the maid, tells him that Steve and Blayne were fighting over $40,000 and shows him a business card from a mortuary in Glendale that Steve left behind in his room. The mortuary owner, Ben Arno, recognizes Bob from the Army and states that he encountered Steve at a boxing match and offered him a job, but Steve never pursued it. Later, Bob's nurse, Julie Benson, suggests that they question Solly's wife. Mrs. Blayne reports that the day Solly was killed, he told her he had won $40,000. After Solly was shot, she called Dr. Anstead, but it was too late to save her husband's life. Bob then examines Steve's phone bill and discovers that Steve placed a call to a woman named Bonnie Willis. At her house, he sees a photograph of his mysterious visitor and learns that her name is Lysa Radolph and that she has also disappeared. Bonnie, who like Lysa met Steve at the club where they both worked, then mentions a man named Lou Walsh, who is Lysa's lover. After Bob leaves, Bonnie is murdered with the same gun that killed Solly. Bob tells the police about Lysa and Walsh, but the police are unable to locate Walsh, nor can they find any pictures of the mysterious man. Then the police are summoned to the hospital, where a dying Chinese man named Quong has spoken of Steve. Quong tells the police and Bob that it was Walsh who owed Blayne $40,000. After Blayne's murder, Steve hid out at a house that Walsh owned under a different name. Quong overheard Lysa implicate Walsh in Solly's murder and convince Steve, with whom she has fallen in love, to go to the police. Quong then saw Walsh watching Lysa and Steve through the window of the house, and later, Walsh released the brakes on a car, crushing Steve. Before he can tell the police the location of Walsh's house, Quong dies. Julie then decides to search Dr. Anstead's office to see if he has a record of treating Steve. Anstead discovers her there and, after locking her in another room, calls Bob and gives him the address of Walsh's house, but before he can reveal any additional information, Walsh kills him. Unknown to Walsh, Julie has overheard the murder and knows Walsh's address. She attracts the attention of the janitor and calls the police. Meanwhile, Bob goes after Steve, and finds Arno waiting at the house. Admitting that he is Walsh, Arno explains that after Lysa returned from the hospital, she told him that she was leaving him, so he killed her. He threatens to kill Bob, but Steve, in a body cast, prevents the murder. When the police arrive, there is a shootout and Arno is killed. Steve is rushed to the hospital, and after he recovers, Julie and Bob, who have been married in the meantime, take him with them to the ranch. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Vincent Sherman (Dir)
  Maurice Murphy (Dial dir)
  James McMahon (Asst dir)
Producer: Anthony Veiller (Prod)
Writer: Larry Marcus (Scr)
  Ivan Goff (Scr)
  Ben Roberts (Scr)
  Larry Marcus (Story)
Photography: Carl Guthrie (Dir of photog)
  Lou Jennings (Cam)
  Victor Johnson (Gaffer)
  Frank Bjerring (Stills)
Art Direction: Anton Grot (Art dir)
Film Editor: Thomas Reilly (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Wallace (Set dec)
Costumes: Milo Anderson (Miss Lindfors gowns by)
  Leah Rhodes (Miss Mayo's gowns by)
Music: Sid Cutner (Orch)
  Leo Shuken (Orch)
  Ray Heindorf (Mus dir)
  Daniele Amfitheatrof (Mus)
Sound: Stanley Jones (Sd)
Make Up: Perc Westmore (Makeup artist)
  Eddie Voight (Makeup)
  Gene Hibbs (Makeup)
  Nickey a Marcellino (Makeup)
  Alma Armstrong (Hair)
  Ray Foreman (Hair)
Production Misc: Monica Cahill (Tech adv)
  Dr. Franklin Wilkins (Tech adv)
  Don Page (Unit mgr)
  Alma Young (Scr supv)
  Herschel Brown (Grip)
Country: United States
Language: English

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 11/2/1950 dd/mm/yyyy LP2927

PCA NO: 13360
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

 
Genre: Mystery
 
Subjects (Major): Friendship
  Gamblers
  Missing persons
  Murder
 
Subjects (Minor): Attempted murder
  Frame-ups
  Gunfights
  Hospitals
  Hotels
  Impersonation and imposture
  Jealousy
  Los Angeles (CA)
  Nurses
  Operations, Surgical
  Physicians
  Police
  Romance
  Veterans

Note: The film's working title was Somewhere in the City . Technical advisor Monica Cahill was chief of nursing service and Dr. Franklin Wilkins was the assistant chief of surgery at Birmingham Veterans' Hospital. According to publicity material included in the file on the film at the AMPAS Library, scenes were filmed on location at the Birmingham Veterans' Hospital, City Hall, the Fremont and Biltmore Hotels in downtown Los Angeles, and at other locations in the city, including Olvera St., the Los Feliz district, Glendale and Stone Canyon in Bel Air. Sheila Stephens was married to Gordon MacRae at the time of production and later changed her professional name to Sheila MacRae. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   21 Jan 1950.   
Daily Variety   17 Jan 50   p. 3.
Film Daily   19 Jan 50   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Aug 48   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Oct 48   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Jan 50   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   21 Jan 50   p. 161, 163
New York Times   27 Jan 50   p. 29.
Variety   18 Jan 50   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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