Friday, March 28, 2008

Richard Widmark


Richard Widmark (1914 - 2008)

Classic movie fans are mourning the loss of actor Richard Widmark. We celebrate his 93 years, but cannot help but be saddened and annoyed that the Motion Picture Academy has callously lost the opportunity to honour his body of work with an honourary Oscar or the AFI with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Fortunately, those career achievements survive in a wealth of wonderful movies for all to enjoy.

Richard Widmark's first screen role was the Oscar nominated Tommy Udo in Henry Hathaway's Kiss of Death (1947). The successful radio actor and former teacher didn't expect that gem of a character role to turn him into an overnight screen sensation, but every once in a while the public recognizes the goods and demands more. The multi-faceted actor gave us more for decades. More of those trademark hoods and crooks living on the edge, more courageous and conflicted military men, adventurous cowboys, hissible villains and laudable family men.
Dean Stockwell, Richard Widmark
Down to the Sea in Ships

Personal favourites: Road House (1948), Warlock (1959), Down to the Sea in Ships (1949), The Bedford Incident (1965), My Pal Gus (1952), Halls of Montezuma (1951). I was mightily impressed by No Way Out (1950) and Widmark's turn as a bigoted criminal when my father showed it to me during my teen years and my own teenager was equally impressed when I shared that movie with her a couple of years ago.

Richard Widmark, Felicia Farr
The Last Wagon

A special note to ladies who think they may not like westerns. Check out The Last Wagon (1956) for a particularly sweet, sexy scene between Widmark and co-star Felicia Farr. These titles do not comprise an exhaustive list as Richard Widmark, like Spencer Tracy, is one of those actors I could enjoy watching read the phone book.

TVOntario's Saturday Night at the Movies occasionally shows archival interviews with Richard Widmark that I believe are from the 70s. We meet an intelligent, candid, wryly humorous and reserved gentleman who completely won my approval by not seeking or needing it. An actor who gives actors a good name - artistic, but not artsy.

5 comments:

  1. How true! Thanks for telling me about your blog.

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  2. My first visitor! So happy you dropped by, Carolyn. Janet tells me that squealing is not the proper response to a blog comment. Live and learn.

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  3. Why is squealing not appropriate? Ol' Richard's ghost might have just pushed you down the stairs. ;-)

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  4. Hey...I think squealing is a perfectly fine response, caftan woman. I did when you replied to me!

    Nice tribute, by the way.

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  5. One of his finest performances was in 'Murder on the Orient Express'.

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