This is an entertaining Western from 1956, expertly directed by John Sturges. Donna Reed, who plays a tough-talking adventurer, looks hot on a horse — hotter than you might imagine, even though her horsebacking skills seem to have been somewhat limited.

I noticed something very strange while watching it, related to one of the Western paintings of Robert McGinnis, identified on some web sites by the title “Alder Point Station”:


It duplicates, almost exactly, a shot in Backlash, although McGinnis has eliminated one figure on foot, changed the time from day to night and altered the signage on the stage station from Benton’s Trading Post to Bently’s Trading Post.  Backlash was a wide-screen film, and this painting echoes the composition of the shot with uncanny precision.

I can’t find any information online about this borrowing.  McGinnis doesn’t seemed to have contributed to the advertising art for the picture, and one is tempted to imagine that he just remembered the shot and reproduced it unconsciously, although the change to the sign suggests something more considered.

McGinnis once partially duplicated a scene from The Searchers as a tribute to John Wayne and to the film:


This was, however, an acknowledged homage.  “Alder Point Station” seems to be an unacknowledged lift from the Sturges film.  In any case, it’s a wonderful painting.

Click on the images to enlarge.

[Update: Facebook friend Todd Fletcher recognized the rock formation in the back of the McGinnis painting as Gates Pass, which is located near the “Old Tucson” Western filming complex in Arizona:


A quick search at the IMDB confirms that Backlash was indeed partially filmed at the Old Tucson location.]

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