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Disowned

October 04, 1987|Jack Mathews

Notice something missing from the ads for the Australian film "Backlash"? Try the name of the distributor paying for the space--the Samuel Goldwyn Co.

"I was told that he (Samuel Goldwyn Jr.) hated the movie and didn't want his name associated with it," said Bill Bennett, who wrote/directed/produced "Backlash," a mostly improvised action-fable about two Aussie cops transporting an aboriginal girl who may have been framed for murder.

Bennett said he was stunned by the insult, because it was the prestige of the Goldwyn label that prompted him to sell the American rights to the company for "petty cash" in the first place.

According to Bennett, he reshot the ending of "Backlash" as part of his deal with Goldwyn, but the company didn't like either version. Goldwyn then suggested lopping off the ending altogether and ending the movie on an earlier upbeat scene. When Bennett began legal proceedings to stop Goldwyn from cutting the film, the company backed off. But, in the process, Sam Jr. removed his name.

Goldwyn wouldn't talk to us about the feud. But a company rep said the boss asked, "Are we going to be asked to explain ourselves every time we have a difference with a film maker?"

He was apparently referring to his previous release, "A Prayer for the Dying," which was disowned by director Mike Hodges after Goldwyn had it recut.

Hodges demanded that his name be removed from that film. Goldwyn refused.

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