Backfire (1950): Vincent Sherman’s Film Noir, Starring Edmond O’Brien, Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, Viveca Lindfors

Vincent Sherman directed Backfire a crime film noir, starring Edmond O’Brien, Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae, Viveca Lindfors, and Dane Clark.

The film launched the careers of writers Larry Marcus, Ben Roberts, and Ivan Goff. .

Although Backfire was completed in October 1948, it was not released until January 1950. However, screenwriters Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts would go on to write White Heat the year after working on Backfire.

Good year for Edmond O’Brien: He would also star in White Heat, and the seminal film noir, D.O.A., in 1950.

Bob Corey (Gordon MacRae), American soldier wounded at the end of World War II, is undergoing surgical operations on his spine at the Birmingham General Army Hospital in Van Nuys, California.

He is tended by a nurse, Julie Benson (Virginia Mayo), and they  fall in love. Corey’s military pal, Steve Connolly (Edmond O’Brien), arrives to discuss plans for the ranch in Scottsdale, Arizona, they plan to buy and operate once Corey is out of the hospital. The two men pool their G.I. benefits to do so.

Corey’s final surgery is in December, but Connolly does not come to see his friend. By Christmas, Corey is still in recovery but Connolly remains absent.

On Christmas Eve, as Corey lies semi-conscious in bed after being administered a sleeping drug, a woman with Swedish accent (Viveca Lindfors) appears at his bedside. She says Connolly has been in accident; his spine shattered and he wants to die, but she has refused to help him commit suicide. Corey advises her to do nothing and just to wait. Corey slips into unconsciousness, and the woman disappears.

After New Year’s Day 1949, Corey is released from the hospital. He is stopped by police detectives and then questioned by Captain Garcia (Ed Begley) who tells him Connolly is wanted for the murder of Solly Blayne (Richard Rober), a local gambler and racketeer murdered at his home in Los Feliz.

Months later, Connolly leaves the military hospital, his injuries repaired by military surgeons. Bob Corey and new wife Julie arrive and take Steve to their ranch in Arizona.

Cast
Gordon MacRae as Bob Corey
Edmond O’Brien as Steve Connolly
Virginia Mayo as Julie Benson
Viveca Lindfors as Lysa Radoff
Dane Clark as Ben Arno
Ed Begley as Captain Garcia
Sheila MacRae (as Sheila Stephens) as Bonnie Willis
Mack Williams as Dr. Herbert Anstead
Leonard Strong as Lee Quong
Frances Robinson as Mrs. Blayne
Richard Rober as Solly Blayne