A band of bank robbers on the run from a posse flee into the desert. Near death from lack of water they stumble into what appears to be a ghost town, only to discover an old prospector and his granddaughter living there. The robbers discover that the old man has been mining gold and set out to make a quick fortune by robbing the pair. Their plan runs foul when the gang leader, Stretch (Gregory Peck), falls for the granddaughter (Anne Baxter), which sets off a showdown between the entire gang.
Gregory Peck ... James 'Stretch' Dawson
Anne Baxter ... Constance Mae 'Mike'
Richard Widmark ... Dude
Robert Arthur ... Bull Run
John Russell ... Lengthy
Harry Morgan ... Half Pint (as Henry Morgan)
James Barton ... Grandpa
Charles Kemper ... Walrus
Yellow Sky is an excellent western, especially to a western buff like me. Along with a top-notch cast, fabulous lighting and great cinematography, I truly enjoyed picking out the locations, most of which were from the Inyo County area of California. Due to my passion for mining in my free time, I was able to spot the Alabama Hills (where the set of the town was located) and the Dunes north of Panamint Springs as two of the locales from the film. Action sequences were well done. The plot, though predictable, has interesting twists, especially those involving Peck and Sheridan. Peck's character is also interesting in that it follows more along the lines of John Wayne's character in the Searchers, someone hardened to life who finally comes around to his humanity. I first encountered this film about a week ago on AMC. I do not know if it is availible on VHS or DVD. If someone could let me know if it is availible in these formats, I would appreciate it. All in all, a great film!
William Wellman could break your heat better than almost anyone who ever got behind a camera. There are moments in each of his films that rank with Ford and Mann and Aldrich that are so gritty and realistic and moving that, well, he is just one of the best. The ending of Yellow Sky easily vies with the shootout of My Darling Clementine and Winchester 73 as absolutely brilliant. Each of the three are as different from the other as night and day, but wow, touch after touch keeps your eyes glue ever second to them.
The movie itself is pretty boring in a lot of places, but thats the price of this ticket.
One thing that should be mentioned, never has a western had not only so much night footage, but so little overall score. This Night and Silence has a pretty spooky effect and in some ways is the truest feel for the desert and west of any western ever made. Wellman did this same sort of thing a decade earlier with Beau Geste, using the Arizona desert around Yuma the same way, though here with Sky much better. There is simply no western like this ever made.
Wellman, Walsh, Ford, Mann. Thank goodness for them. Each of them. And again, be sure to catch the final scenes of Yellow Sky. Simply one of the best ever made.
Gregory Peck and his five companion outlaws have just robbed a bank and make their getaway across the desert. Barely alive, they stumble into a ghost town with their loot and find it inhabited by James Barton and his granddaughter Anne Baxter.
Of course the sight of Anne Baxter in some tight shirts and pants get the old mojo going in them, especially Peck, Robert Arthur, and John Russell. But Richard Widmark decides they've got to be hanging around in this old mining town for a reason. And then the conflicts start.
When you do a movie entitled Yellow Sky it would have been nice to see some color photography of same. The movie does under utilize location photography in Death Valley because it's in black and white. Of course when the location shifts to the town, the black and white does lend itself to the noirish twists in the plot.
Everybody concerned in this one has done better and both Peck and Widmark have been in better westerns. Yet the mature sexual theme was something new for 1949, now it wouldn't raise a ripple.
Without giving the plot away, I also have to say that the motivations behind Gregory Peck's character are also pretty obscure. Yeah, he's in heat over Anne Baxter, but I wonder how he got to be leader of a gang of outlaws in the first place if that's all it takes to throw him off course.
It's interesting that when it comes to Westerns, most people don't think of Gregory Peck--even though he's made some of the very best films of the genre. Sure he made a lot of other types of films, but this film, THE GUNFIGHTER and THE BIG COUNTRY are absolutely top-notch films.
This film is odd in that Peck is the lead but he isn't exactly a hero. In fact, when the movie begins he's running with a gang of slimy desperadoes. However, through the course of the film, his character changes--revealing SOME decency underneath all that filth. However, despite this change, his character is still very believable and compelling--not preachy or one-dimensional. As a result, this is more of a "thinking person's" film--not just some cardboard characters fighting it out in the middle of the town (something that almost NEVER happened in the Old West). So, take my advice and see this film. The acting, direction and especially the writing make this a must-see Western,...even if you don't particularly like Westerns!