Monday August 18, 7:30pm
If you missed the first three films in the "Richard Widmark: Playing the Villain" series at the Parkway, you still have two more that you can catch. Specifically, tonight is William Wellman's Yellow Sky, the only Western in the series. I could recap how popular the ol' Western has gotten recently, but instead I will entice you with highlights from the last three films:
- With Kiss of Death, Widmark might have had a small role, but by far the most villain-like with a sneer and a laugh that would send anyone to the other side of the street and with the ability to push an old lady in a wheelchair down the stairs.
- Slattery's Hurricane might have made Widmark's character into a war hero, but he was still willing to kick his heartbroken girlfriend out in the rain along the way. (Of course, she forgave him for that.)
- Panic in the Streets (my favorite so far) not only gives Widmark an interesting character (genuinely likable and dislikable), but also places him alongside the amazing "Walter" Jack Palance - young and incredibly unusual looking. Ethan Coen also seemed to enjoy the film.
"A fine Western, harshly shot by Joe McDonald in Death Valley locations, inevitably conjuring comparisons with Greed and The Treasures of the Sierra Madre as six bankrobbers on the run all but die in the desert salt flats before stumbling on a ghost town where a lone prospector (James Barton) guards twin secrets: his rich gold strike and his fiercely tomboyish granddaughter (Anne Baxter). Like a pack of wolves, the strangers are soon snarling lustfully after gold and/or the girl, with their leader (Gregory Peck) gradually detaching himself as his presence causes the girl to discover her femininity, and hers revives in him something of the man he was before Quantrill's Raiders descended on his home. Intriguingly, Lamar Trotti's screenplay develops WR Burnett's source story with The Tempest in mind, the subtler analogies serving to provide resonances. The situation again harks back to fraternal conflict (the year is 1867, in the aftermath of the Civil War); Yellow Sky also has its malign spirits, a band of renegade Apaches under the uneasy control of the prospector; and the conflict similarly resolves strangely, at its violent climax, into a sense of conciliation. Beautifully cast and characterised, this is one of Wellman's best." (Tom Milne, Time Out)
All this goodness is presented by Take Up Productions.