Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

Sept. 15, 2018, Mystery Photo
This week’s mystery movie has been the 1948/1950 Warner Bros. film “Backfire,” with Viveca Lindfors, Dane Clark, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien, Gordon MacRae, Ed Begley, Frances Robinson, Richard Robert, Sheila Stephens and David Hoffman.

Screenplay by Larry Marcus, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts from a story by Larry Marcus. Photography by Carl Guthrie, art direction by Anton Grot, set decoration by William Wallace, makeup by Perc Westmore, Miss Lindfors’ gowns by Milo Anderson, Miss Mayo’s gowns by Leah Rhodes. Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof, produced by Anthony Veiller and directed by Vincent Sherman.

“Backfire” is available on DVD from Warner Archive in a film noir set that includes  “Cornered,” “Desperate,” “The Phenix City Story,” “Dial 1119” “Armored Car Robbery,” “Crime in the Streets” and “Deadline at Dawn.”

Writing in the New York Times (Jan 27. 1950), Bosley Crowther gave “Backfire” a two-paragraph review, possibly a record for brevity:

A very terse observation is all that “Backfire” deserves, in view of the feeble detonation of this Warner mystery drama at the Globe. Telling a most unlikely story of a young man who casually proves that his best friend, suspected of murdering a gambler, did not do the job, it rambles from one small coincidence to another without style or suspense until finally it puts a listless finger upon the fellow who did the deed. And even though several nice young people, including Gordon MacRae and Edmond O’Brien, are involved, the most that can possibly be said for them is that they get the thing done.

In this case, the title is descriptive of the effort expended by all. A short and sweet observation covers “Backfire”: It does!


Sept. 10, 2018, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gent.

Update: This is J. Louis Johnson.

Sept. 11, 2018, Mystery Photo

On Tuesday, in our song-filled mystery musical, we have a mystery nobleman from the mythical kingdom of Ruritania and his loyal mystery assistant.

Update: This is Monte Blue. Our familiar friend on the right remains unidentified.

Sept. 12, 2018, Mystery Photo

For Wednesday, we have a mystery woman.

Update: This is Sheila MacRae, appearing as Sheila Stephens, in her film debut. At the time, she was married to leading man Gordon MacRae,

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and mystery guests), Don Danard (Tuesday’s mystery mustache), Mike Hawks (Tuesday’s mystery mustache), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie and mystery guests), Jenny M. (Tuesday’s mystery mustache) and Sheila (Tuesday’s mystery mustache).

Sept. 13, 2018, Mystery Movie

For Thursday, we have our leading lady as our leading man sees her for the first time.

Update: This is an out of focus Viveca Lindfors.

Sept. 13, 2018, Mystery Photo
We also have a mystery dog who does NOT approve of such goings-on.

Update: Our mystery pup remains unidentified beyond being a Cairn terrier.

Sept. 13, 2018, Mystery Photo

And in our cavalcade of character actors we have this mystery gent ….

Update: This is Leonard Strong.

Sept. 13, 2018, Mystery Photo

… and this mystery cleaning woman who is very interested in such goings-on.

Update: This is Ida Moore. Be sure to read Gary’s comments on Ida!

Brain Trust roll call: Sheila (Tuesday’s mystery mustache), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery woman) and Mike Hawks (mystery movie and Monday’s and Wednesday’s mystery guests). Mary Mallory (she’s in the movie but not in this role).

Sept. 14, 2018, Mystery Photo

For Friday, we have a mystery shot of downtown Los Angeles, as our leading man runs for a taxi….

Update: Gordon MacRae runs for a cab on Bunker Hill.

… and our mystery dog with a mystery dead guy….

Our mystery pup mourns Richard Rober.

Sept. 14, 2018, Mystery Photo
…. and another mystery dead guy….

Update: Dane Clark models a checked sportcoat.

Sept. 14, 2018, Mystery Photo

Here’s our mystery second lead and the mystery leading lady…

Update: Edmond O’Brien and an in-focus Viveca Lindfors.

Sept. 14, 2018, Mystery Photo
… and it’s a mystery guest emerita with our mystery leading man.

Update: Virginia Mayo (last seen in the mystery movie “The Girl From Jones Beach”) and Gordon MacRae.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery cleaning lady and leading lady), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), Gary (with a delightful recollection of Thursday’s mystery cleaning lady), B.J. Merholz (Thursday’s mystery cleaning lady, Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery houseboy and mystery cleaning lady), Don Danard (Thursday’s mystery houseboy), Diane Ely (Thursday’s mystery cleaning lady) and L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. tucsonbarbara says:

    Complete shot-in-the-dark guess – Ernest Whitman


  2. Don Danard says:

    Another shot in the foot. Frederick O’Neal.


  3. Mary Mallory says:

    Dewey Pigmeat Markham.


  4. Suzanne A. Stone says:

    Nick Stewart?


  5. Sarah says:

    I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this, but why are there blue marks on this picture?


  6. Mary Mallory says:

    Monte Blue with the mustache.


  7. Mary Mallory says:

    BACKFIRE. J. Louis Johnson Monday and Pierce Lyden driving.


  8. Don Danard says:

    Today’s Mystery Nobleman is Monte Blue. Don’t know the film title however.


  9. Sarah says:

    Is Wendell Howard one of Tuesday’s Ruritanians?


  10. MIKE HAWKS says:

    Which one of the 292 films of Monte Blue is this.


  11. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    BACKFIRE (1950)
    Monday: J. Louis Johnson
    Tuesday: Monte Blue (also in last week’s THE UNFAITHFUL, and many other Warners films). They gave him an oldtimers contract ( e.g. Mae Marsh at Fox; Mitchell Lewis at MGM).


  12. Jenny M says:

    Monte Blue?


  13. sheila says:

    Monte Blue for Wednesday.


  14. Mary Mallory says:

    Frances Robinson.


  15. E. Yarber says:

    Looks like Horace McMahon on Tuesday without the moustache. If I’m right, that narrows it down to only a few hundred films.


  16. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Sheila MacRae (billed as Sheila Stephens)


  17. SylviaE says:

    Funny, on first seeing the photo for Tuesday I thought, “he looks like Xavier Cugat.” Then the caption made me think, “maybe it IS Xavier Cugat.” Anyway, I’m still mulling, so no real guess yet.


  18. MIKE HAWKS says:

    monday J. Louis Johnson, wednesday Sheila MacRae in BACKFIRE 1950.


  19. Mary Mallory says:

    I don’t see a cleaning woman in the film and I don’t remember a dog. Helen Westcott Wednesday, viveca Lindfors our leading lady, and ray Montgomery as mystery attendant.


  20. Mary Mallory says:

    Ida Moore cleaning lady.


  21. MIKE HAWKS says:

    Viveca Lindfors, Leonard Strong and Ida Moore.


  22. Gary says:

    When I was about 10 years old I fell in love with Ida Moore and because of her I began to be interested in the other character actors. I always looked for the cast lists of recently released movies and seeing her name always guaranteed that I would see that film. I think this might be I”ll Be Yours with Deanna Durbin, the out of focus (oof) girl.


  23. David Inman says:

    George E. Stone today?


  24. B.J. Merholz says:

    Ida More


  25. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Faux Asian Leonard Strong; Ida Moore.


  26. Don Danard says:

    It’s Leonard Strong looking out the window. The “Little Old Lady” is Elizabeth Patterson.


  27. Diane Ely says:

    Mystery cleaning woman: Ida Moore


  28. LC says:

    Backfire (1950) w/Gordon MacRae, Viveca Lindfors, Dane Clark, Virginia Mayo, Sheila MacRae, Ida Moore, …


  29. Mary Mallory says:

    Dane Clark making a mad dash in downtown LA, Edmond O’Brien with Viveca Lindfors, Virginia Mayo taking care of Gordon MacRae.


  30. Don Danard says:

    Virginia Mayo and Gordon MacRae today.


  31. MIKE HAWKS says:

    Gordon MacRae running. Edmond O’Brien and Viveca lLndfors are having a conversation. Richard Rober and Dane Clark are the dead ones. And finally, Virginia Mayo and Gordon Macrae are having a cozy conversation.


  32. Gary says:

    Backfire. Gordon and Virginia:No Singing! No Dancing! In 1948, 49, 50 and 51 Ida Moore appeared in 28 films, most of them major releases.Those years were the beginning of my movie going career. No wonder she stood out: she was in every movie I saw.


  33. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Gordon MacRae; Richard Rober, Dane Clark; Edmond O’Brien, Viveca Lindfors; Virginia Mayo, Gordon MacRae.


  34. Patricia van Hartesveldt says:

    Friday: “Backfire.” Gordon MacRae and Virginia Mayo.


  35. Mary Mallory says:

    Did I not get our mystery leading lady on Thursday?


  36. SylviaE says:

    This was another good one. Today was the ‘Ah-ha’ day, though.

    Backfire 1950
    Mon – J. Louis Johnson (I think)
    Tue – Monte Blue in the foreground / background guy looks so familiar
    Wed – Frances Robinson
    Thur – Diggy (the Cairn terrier)
    Fri – Gordon MacRae / ever faithful Diggy and deceased Richard Rober /
    Dane Clark deceased in the leaves/
    Edmond O’Brien and Viveca Lindfors / Virginia Mayo and Gordon MacRae

    What a plot! The flashbacks make your head spin.
    But a lot of fun. Thanks. Looking forward to Saturday’s rundown.


  37. Benito says:

    BACKFIRE 1950? Based on the multiple flashbacks, they shoulda called it CONVOLUTED


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