Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Yellow Sky—Classic Western with Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, and Richard Widmark

Yellow Sky (1948) is a western directed by William A. Wellman that stars Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, and Richard Widmark.

Anne Baxter confronts Gregory Peck in Yellow Sky
The plot centers on Peck and his band of outlaws who rob a bank and flee the law by riding into the desert. Desperate and out of drinking water, they come upon a ghost town inhabited by a young woman named Mike (Baxter) and her grandfather (James Barton). They are Yellow Sky’s sole inhabitants. The old man has been prospecting for gold and the gang sees a chance for them to make some easy money by intimidating Mike and her grandfather out of the estimated $50,000 in gold he has mined thus far.

Yellow Sky is based on an unpublished novel by W. R. Burnett. Burnett is the best-selling author of Little Caesar, Scarface, and High Sierra. Many of his novels were turned into films, which led to a career as a scriptwriter in Hollywood. Burnett worked with the top directors, writers, and actors like Raoul Walsh, John Huston, John Ford, Howard Hawks, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood. As a scriptwriter, he wrote This Gun for Hire (1942), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), San Antonio (1945), and The Great Escape (1963).

Some exteriors for Yellow Sky were filmed at Death Valley National Monument. The ghost town of Yellow Sky was an old western set that actor Tom Mix had built in 1923. The crew hired by Twentieth Century-Fox basically demolished the movie set located near Lone Pine, California.

William Wellman directed the original version of A Star Is Born.
Director William A. Wellman (1896 – 1975) got his start in the movies as an actor but decided he’d rather work behind the camera as a director. He directed his first film in 1920. Seven years later, Wellman directed the World War I epic Wings. His other notable films in the sound era include The Public Enemy (1931), A Star Is Born, Nothing Sacred (both 1937), Beau Geste (1939), and The Ox-Box Incident (1943).

By 1948, Gregory Peck (1916 – 2002) was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. He had three Best Actor nominations under his belt, including one for Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Besides Gentleman’s Agreement, Peck starred in three other films that year, including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case. He had non-exclusive contracts with David O. Selznick and Twentieth Century-Fox which gave him great flexibility in the roles he chose to play. Yellow Sky was Peck’s only film released in 1948.

Lobby card for The Valley of Decision (1945) starring Greer Garson and Gregory Peck
Anne Baxter (1923 – 1985) won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Sophie MacDonald in The Razor’s Edge (1946). She was signed to a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox in 1940. In 1948, Baxter starred in four movies, with Yellow Sky being her most prominent role to date. She went on to have a prolific career in film, television, and theater. She is probably best known for her Oscar-nominated performance as Eve Harrington in All About Eve. Frank Lloyd Wright was Baxter’s grandfather.
Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington in All About Eve (1950)
Richard Widmark (1914- 2008) had a sensational movie debut playing the crazy villain Tommy Udo in director Henry Hathaway’s Kiss of Death (1947). In the film’s most notorious scene, Widmark’s character pushed an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs. His performance won him a Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actor. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Udo. Widmark was also under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox where he played mostly villains (Yellow Sky is no exception). Later in his career, he started playing more heroic roles in films like Slattery’s Hurricane and Down to the Sea in Ships (both 1949).

Richard Widmark stands between Cornell Wilde and Ida Lupino in Road House (1948).


Join us on May 5 as we discuss Yellow Sky on Zoom. Watch the film on YouTube first and be ready to discuss it on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

Your Zoom invitation link is below.

Stephen Reginald is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Discussion on  "Yellow Sky"
Time: May 5, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 782 2589 2657
Password: 0mZXAG



Questions for Discussion:
1. What were your overall impressions?
2. Did the movie remind you of any other movies you’ve seen?
3. What did you think of Anne Baxter’s character?
4. Did anything about the movie surprise you?
5 Was the ending satisfying? Was it realistic?



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