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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Backlash aka "Das Geheimnis der fünf Gräber" [Blu-ray]


(John Sturges, 1956)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal International Pictures (UI)

Video: Explosive Media



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:24:14.883 

Disc Size: 22,626,728,227 bytes

Feature Size: 18,652,569,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.68 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard case

Release date: March 7th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.0:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio German 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit






• Trailer (2:08)
• Photo Gallery (2:42)
• Weitere Western (15:47)





Description: The breathtakingly beautiful Technicolor cinematography of Irving Glassberg is but one of the many small pleasures of the big-budget western Backlash. Set in post-Civil War Arizona, the film stars Richard Widmark as Jim Slater, who hopes to prove that his down-and-out father (John McIntire) was not involved in a gold robbery. To prove this, Slater has to find the money, which is also the goal of Karyl Orton (Donna Reed), the supposed widow of one of the thieves. Eventually, Slater discovers that his father is every bit as rotten as the law claims he is, though he can take some comfort in the fact that Karyl is now in love with him. As in his earlier Bad Day at Black Rock, Backlash director John Sturges is more concerned with building tension than with overt displays of wanton violence.


Backlash is a 1956 Technicolor film starring Richard Widmark, released by Universal-International Pictures. It was directed by John Sturges, and unfolds in the vein of the psychological Western.


In the aftermath of an Apache ambush, Widmark (who believes his father was in the doomed party) and Reed (whose husband was killed in the massacre) become involved in a serpentine search for the lone survivor and some missing gold. Plotty Western written by Borden Chase.



The Film:

Jim Slater (Richard Widmark) meets Karyl Orton (Donna Reed) in Gila Valley, Arizona. She thinks that he is searching for a gold cache believed to hidden somewhere in the valley. When a man with a rifle starts shooting at him, Jim wonders if she can be trusted. After Jim kills his foe, he discovers the dead man was a deputy sheriff from Silver City. He takes the body there.

When Sheriff J. C. Marson (Edward Platt) questions him, Jim reveals that he is after the person responsible for his father's death. Jim's father and four other men were besieged and killed by Apaches. Jim believes there was a sixth man who got away and could have gone for help, but instead decided he wanted the gold they found all to himself. Marston reveals that one of the men was the brother of the dead deputy. There are two other brothers, who will want revenge. When Jim refuses to leave town, Marston suggests he go see Sergeant George Lake (Barton MacLane) in Tucson. Lake led the detail that found the massacre victims.

Excerpt from Wikipedia located HERE

In the late 1800s in Gila Valley, Arizona, Jim Slater searches an old grave for the remains of his father William, who years before was part of a group of men who acquired $60,000, thought to be in gold, and then were killed by marauding Indians. Jim is out to avenge his father, who abandoned his family decades earlier, and believes that one of his father's group escaped with the money and deliberately failed to report the Indian attack to authorities. Karyl Orton, who thinks that her estranged husband Paul was also part of the Gila Valley gold rushers, finds Jim at the gravesite and figures he is competing with her to find the $60,000. When deputy sheriff Tomm Welker begins shooting at Jim from atop the hillside, Jim finally kills Tomm and has Karyl, whom he assumes is in cahoots with Tomm, assist him in bringing the body to Sheriff J. C. Marson.

Excerpt from TCM  located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Backlash sees the HD digital light of day on Blu-ray.  Colors and contrast are the high points of the image. As with Explosive Media's Man Without a Star the Technicolor brilliance shines through to varying degrees via the 1080P transfer. It can be quite impressive at times.  This, essentially, bare-bones disc is single-layered with a decent bitrate. It has some inconsistency with some softness and, what looks like, brief registry issues. This is in the, original, 2.0:1 aspect ratio. There is no noise or noticeable artefacts. This Blu-ray isn't perfect but harkens back to the desirable Technicolor hues of days gone by - that may be appealing for many.
















Audio :

Dual linear PCM's in original English and a German DUB. There are penetrating effects from the galloping of horses via a chase to significant gun-play. Depth is present but no range. Herman Stein (This Island Earth, Tarantula, There's Always Tomorrow, The Incredible Shrinking Man) includes a rousing score filled with energy. There are no optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

Only a trailer, photo gallery and long compilation advert of western films also released by Explosive Media.



Backlash is a bit of an odd-ball western - trying to cover a little too much ground plot-wise. But I agree with many other's sentiments that Widmark gives the film it's edge. I had never seen it before and it seems to have been a lost film in the genre. Backlash got a bad review in the NY Times and then vanished for years.  I don't know of, even, a DVD edition outside of Germany. This Explosive Media Blu-ray has some positives even beyond the ability to simply see the film. The Technicolor colors are very appealing - and , of course, there's Widmark with support from Donna Reed, and familiar television faces Edward Platt  (The Chief), Harry Morgan (Bill Gannon) and William Campbell (Trelane). I actually liked the western-adventure-revenge angle and I think fans of Widmark and the genre will enjoy it the most. 

Gary Tooze

March 25th, 2014


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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