I'm having a terrific time at the Noir City Film Festival, and tonight's double bill is a great example of why I'm enjoying it so much.
The evening kicked off with Alan Ladd and Gail Russell in a brand-new digital print of CALCUTTA (1947).
I enjoyed CALCUTTA when I saw it six years ago, but this was a film which definitely improved upon further acquaintance. Seeing it glowing on a big screen in a dark theater, in pristine condition, I was thoroughly entertained. And Alan Ladd...wow. As I wrote in 2011, he was really something to watch!
The evening's "B" movie was a 66-minute film from 20th Century-Fox, BACKLASH (1947). The large cast might not be household names, but they were familiar faces; the best-known cast member was probably Jean Rogers of the FLASH GORDON serial. It was nice knowing that Stephanie Shayne, the daughter of cast member Robert Shayne, was in the audience tonight.
A body found in a car wreck is believed to be criminal defense attorney John Morland (John Eldredge). The first interesting piece of news is that the crash didn't kill him; there's a bullet in his heart.
As a pair of detectives (Larry J. Blake and Richard Benedict) investigate, the story gets curiouser and curiouser; in flashbacks, we see various witnesses give their stories about Morland, which aren't always true. Morland's wife (Rogers) is a suspect... And then some x-rays turn up in the interesting news that the body isn't Morland at all!
The interplay between the detectives is fun, and the many plot twists and turns in a little over an hour keep things interesting. (And a sequence involving poison and a cat gets downright nutty.) All in all in was a fun hour.
Oddly, during both the opening credits and at "The End" there was no writing on the screen, just a plain background accompanied by music. It would be interesting to know where the printing disappeared to! (Update: It turns out the print had been intended for overseas exhibition and the backgrounds were plain in order for foreign language titles to be inserted. But the print was never sent overseas and has been sitting in the vault ever since.)
BACKLASH was directed by Eugene Forde and filmed in black and white by Benjamin Kline. The cast also includes Douglas Fowley, Leonard Strong, Louise Currie, Sara Berner, Frank Dae, Wynne Larke, Susan Klimist, Michael Chapin, and Gary and Billy Gray.
BACKLASH has no relationship to the 1956 Richard Widmark Western of the same name.
Incidentally, although the Egyptian Theatre website said BACKLASH has not been released on DVD, Amazon indicates it came out in the Fox Cinema Archives MOD line in 2013.
Tomorrow night I'm excited to finally see Loretta Young in THE ACCUSED (1947), costarring Bob Cummings and Wendell Corey, along with a favorite "B" film, THE HUNTED (1947) starring Preston Foster and Belita.