Richard Widmark in Backlash (1956)

Gila's Gold

Jim Slater (Richard Widmark) is on a mission, he wants to know what happened during an Apache ambush at Gila Valley as his dad died in the ambush and is buried there. He is not the only one interested in the events at Gila Valley as he keeps on meeting Karyl Orton (Donna Reed) whose husband also died in the Apache attack. But there inquiries ruffle many a person's feather as there was one survivor of the attack and a quantity of gold which went missing.

The clue to "Backlash" is there right at the start of the movie, a piece of music which doesn't fit in with the western genre but much more at home in the world of thrillers. And that is that "Backlash" is, it's a thriller set in the west where two strangers interested in the same event not only end up getting romantically involved but discover some shocking things as they persistantly dig around when it came to an Apache ambush and the subsequent missing gold.

And that explains why I didn't really warm to "Backlash" as whilst a western starring Richard Widmark and Donna Reed is certainly appealing one which is more interested in a mystery rather than western action ends up being long winded. It is a shame because with John Sturges at the helm "Backlash" has a nice look and when the focus is on delivering western drama and action it is entertaining. But for me when it gets bogged down in the mystery and motive it becomes a lot less enthralling. Of course that works the other way and those who watch "Backlash" with a preference for thrillers will find this side of the movie a lot more appealing.

What this all boils down to is that "Backlash" looks the part and eatures a typical western cast but this is most definitely a hybrid with a much more influential thriller side which for those just looking for some simple western action could over complicate matters.