Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Yellow Sky

For some people it's shoes. For Ailz it's glass rabbits. For me it's DVDs. I bought a whole pile over the festive season. Mainly at the moment I seem to be buying great, neglected movies of the 1940s. 

Like Yellow Sky. Which is a western shot entirely on location in Death Valley. Oh, but it's beautiful. Greg Peck's in it and he's beautiful. Ann Baxter's in it and she's beautiful too. Apparently nobody liked Greg Peck (I think because he gave himself filmstar airs and graces) so when he came to do a fight scene with Ann Baxter she knocked seven bells out of him. The director is William Wellman- whom nobody seems to have heard of in spite of him being one of the greats. And when I say beautiful I mean as beautiful as anything by Kurosawa and that's as beautiful as it gets.

 Westerns get taken for granted. I don't know why. But it's a truism (finally disproved by Unforgiven) that no-one gets Oscar-nominated for working on a western. Yet some of the greatest American pictures are westerns.  And John Ford- who is probably the greatest American-born director of all (with the exception of Orson Welles) specialised in them. OK,  some Westerns are famous- Stagecoach, Shane, High Noon- but for every Western that made a splash there are ten others equally good that only the geeks have heard of. Yellow Sky for instance. Did I mention that it's beautiful? Well it is; black and white photography doesn't get more gorgeous than this.  Six horsemen riding in procession across the gleaming salt flats; the shadows of panicking horses thrown across a wall during the final (off-screen) shoot-out: these images ought to be iconic-  and  If Yellow Sky belonged to any other genre they would be.
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