William Wellman's westerns always seemed a little claustrophobic, but in Yellow Sky the director's technique works to the film's advantage. Outlaw leader Gregory Peck takes refuge in a frontier ghost town. The only inhabitants are elderly James Barton and his pretty granddaughter Anne Baxter. Barton reveals that there's gold hereabouts, prompting a few of Peck's companions--especially Richard Widmark--to plot the old man's demise and claim the treasure for themselves. For his part, Peck is basically honorable, and offers to split fifty-fifty with Barton. Dissension, hostility and gunplay ensue, finally narrowing down to a standoff between Peck and Widmark. Yellow Sky was based on a novel by W.R. Burnett, who moved from westerns to gangster stories and back again with the greatest of ease. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
The less you know about the plot/characters in YELLOW SKY, the better time you'll have watching this very good 1948 western, directed by William Wellman & written by Lamar Trotti. I knew zero, except for its cast, and so was surprised and gripped from the moment an intriguing group of horsemen stop to chat on their trip to town. They arrive, have a drink in the local bar, and then . The movie grabs you with its simplicity, believably sparse dialog & very good performances. Adult in its notions about everything from love & sex to law & order, it understands what people must sometimes do in order to manage all four. To watch this film now, in all its subtlety & moderation, is to realize that, while movies have gained enormously as times/customs have changed and restrictions fallen away, a lot has also been lost. The finale-- which today would have gone on for an ungodly length & probably featured buckets of blood--is an absolute model of restraint. And all the more pleasurable for it.
Good! I knew nothing of the film. I waited months to get the dvd, so I forgot what intrigued me to order it. It's Gregory Peck in an almost bad guy role, which is realistic - too many Hollywood criminals are rotten to the core. However, Richard Widmark is, and has a sideways smirk that highlights it to a T. Anne Baxter is real, Henry Morgan different ... altogether an enjoyable portrayal of real people struggling with real life.