Yellow Sky (1948) Poster

(1948)

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7/10
Well Done Wellman !
jpdoherty5 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
YELLOW SKY (1949) is one of the great westerns of the forties and beyond. A 20th Century Fox movie in glorious black & white - that came at the end of the decade just before the studio embarked on the production of their wonderful ground breaking Cinemascope/Color westerns in the fifties such as "Garden Of Evil", "Broken Lance", "The Last Wagon", "The Bravados" etc. From a good story by W.R.Burnett it was directed with a deft hand by William Wellman and of the half dozen or so westerns he worked on is his best attempt at the genre. Wellman was no Ford or Hawks but with the help of an excellent script by Lamar Trotti, a terrific cast and stunning stark cinematography by genius Joe McDonald he managed to make YELLOW SKY into a taut, exciting and memorable motion picture.

Heading the cast is the always reliable Gregory Peck as the authoritative no-nonsense leader of an outlaw gang of misfits who arrive in the ghost town of Yellow Sky after robbing a bank and making their escape from a cavalry troop across the sun-parched salt flats of Death Valley ("let them go - saves us hanging them"). Here they encounter an old prospector (James Barton) and his granddaughter (Anne Baxter). The gang on learning they have gold stashed away devise a plan to take it from them culminating in a tense shootout between members of the gang and Peck, who by this time, has taken sides with the old man and the girl.

Performances are superb from all concerned. Peck gives one of his usual stalwart portrayals. Richard Widmark, in his first western is superb as the slimy, crafty double crosser. Also excellent is John Russell as the womanizing gang member ("Now ma'am, you wouldn't shoot a fine young handsome fella like me, would ye?"). Good too is Henry Morgan, the young Robert Arthur and especially Charles Kemper as the overweight member of the group trying to trade his canteen full of whiskey for a mouthful of water while crossing the desert and not getting any takers.(Peck giving Kemper's horse some water instead declares "a horse is a useful animal - no point in having it suffer because its owner is a Jackass"). The picture is also notable for an excellent cavalry chase near the opening of the movie, the remarkable trek across the salt flats (a tough time for the actors no doubt just like the characters they were playing) and the cavorting of Peck and Baxter in a corral at night which when viewed today must seem a tad steamy for 1949. Unforgivable however is the omission of a musical score of any kind which was a batty policy of Fox during this period, particularly regarding westerns. Alfred Newman reuses his standard Fox western Main Title music, which he originally composed in 1940 for "Brigham Young", and the same for the ending. But there are some scenes in YELLOW SKY that are just crying out for some music especially those for the salt flats sequence and the night stalking scene near the end where a lack of tension is quite evident.

However YELLOW SKY is still an imaginative classic thriller of a western that rewards repeated viewings and should be in every western collection. ANOTHER FOX WINNER!
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9/10
Stay away from my men, and stop swinging those damn hips all over the place.
Spikeopath25 September 2008
Stretch is the leader of bank robbing desperadoes, after their latest job they find the US Cavalry hot on their tail. Their only conceivable route of escape is to traipse over an enormous salt flat, low on water and bitten by the scorching sun, they happen to come across a ghost town named Yellow Sky. Here was once a prosperous town, now the only inhabitants are a crusty old prospector and his tomboy granddaughter. Soon the talk turns to hidden gold and it's not long before these desperate men will become conflicted in more ways than one. Be it greed, lust or the Apache, the day of reckoning is coming to Yellow Sky.

Yellow Sky is a technically stunning picture, directed with panache by William A. Welman, boasting starkly affecting black and white photography from Joseph MacDonald, and utilising the wonderful use of natural sounds. This picture is to me one of the shining lights of 1940s Westerns. Once the pulse racing pursuit of the robbers by the US Cavalry has finished, the film shifts into a master class of visual and dialogue driven delights. As the gang trundle across the desolate salt flat, the need for quenching the thirst hits the audience as much as it does the gang; I myself found that I was swigging rapidly from my cold can of beer! The Alabama Hills location is a sprawling, beautiful, never ending ode to the West, and then the actors kick in and do their stuff, and then some.

Gregory Peck plays the leader Stretch, an actor normally associated with a straight laced gait, here he is is weather worn and tired, his portrayal of Stretch as convincing as a role I have seen him tackle. Richard Widmark, in what I believe to be his first Western entry, is truly magnetic, a smirking, snarling Dude that you just know you couldn't trust if your life depended on it. Anne Baxter plays the sole female character of the piece (Mike), and she is pivotal to the whole film's strength, tough and full of spunk, her grasping of the situation in amongst these ragged men gives the piece it's time bomb ethic, and boy does Baxter do well with it.

All told there's no weakness' in the casting, they all do good work, and although the plot structure of the film is nothing out of the ordinary, the technical aspects coupled with the excellent writing on the page (W.R. Burnett story, Lamar Trotti screenplay) lift it way above many of its contemporaries. The ending has caused some consternation amongst Western critics over the years, and if I'm honest then it's not totally satisfactory to me personally, but it is in no way what so ever a bad ending, you just feel that the mood that had preceded it deserved something better. But as ever, it's up to the individual viewer to decide for themselves. 9/10
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9/10
Yellow Sky (1948)
sinnersaintenemas-129 October 2006
Made roughly at the time of release of the more highly acclaimed "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," Yellow Sky never got the attention as 'Treasure...' did. In fact, for the most part it has been ignored completely, and wrongfully so. Brilliantly directed by William Wellman, along with very honest camera angles. We see all sides of the actors, not just their supposed "good sides". The cast, including Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter and Richard Widmark, all come together perfectly in highly unique fashion, and that includes everyone from Peck and Baxter all the way down to Charles Kemper and John Russell. The plot, like 'Treasure...' is about the greed for gold and the central characters' inability to trust one another because of it. Yet Yellow Sky somehow adds more to the equation, in my opinion. To me, the characters have, if not more depth, more identifiable depth for sure. The real standout, though, if there is one, is Baxter as 'Mike'. There are times in this film that she doesn't say a word and yet you can tell exactly what Mike is thinking or feeling at the time. The character's innocent confusion on what to do, what not to do, what to let happen and what not to let happen is extraordinarily acted. Emotions as intense as this portrayed successfully on screen is one of the main reasons I love films as much as I do. This is not to say, however, that there is any over-dramaticism in this film. There isn't any at all, and Yellow Sky is all the better for it. The Score, what there is of it, is magnificent in itself. First we hear a main theme at the startup, then nothing until the middle of the film when we hear a more romantic theme. First sung by Charles Kemper's 'Walrus', then on a harmonica, and later on in full musical form. It is rather subtle and not loudly played, but again, that's one of the many beauties of this film, nothing is overdone.

On another note, the DVD that FOX released this year contains the original trailer and a perfect showing of the film.
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7/10
Totally solid, gorgeous, archetypal film about loyalty, greed, and love
secondtake23 October 2010
Yellow Sky (1948)

A classic and somewhat formulaic, beautifully photographed Western with a couple small twists. The main thing you might not catch is that this is an adaptation of "The Tempest," by Shakespeare. Here, the band of travelers crosses a metaphoric sea (the desert) and reaches a "New World" where they sort out what matters between them. The set was built (and deliberately destroyed) from an old silent film set that was left over.

Of note--Gregory Peck and Richard Widmark together for their only time, and they inevitably end up as enemies. The setting is the amazing and deadly Death Valley, and the locations shooting is shot there for authenticity. William Wellman was one of those consistently excellent directors who never really made a bad film, but didn't always make exceptional ones, and this one is right in his usual mix of strong visuals, tight editing, fairly simple dramatic plots, and a key actor or two to identify with.

Ann Baxter is the third leading character, and she's pretty much right on, with some grit and determination, but also a little too isolated for her own good. She's a kind of parallel to the really touch Mercedes McCambridge in "Johnny Guitar," a far more inventive movie, but one where an isolated woman (or two) have to fight off the greedy male rabble. Sort of like life, sometimes. Note that "Johnny Guitar" is four years later.

Besides Wellman's expertise, cinematographer Joe MacDonald's work is really worth noticing, for once again he helps elevate a fairly straightforward plot into something hard bitten, layered, and beautiful. MacDonald, born in Mexico, really came into his own by the late forties, and is behind a whole bunch of noir and western classics (as well as the famous "How to Marry a Millionaire"). In all, it's a really good movie, no question.
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Classic Black and White Western
Chuck-18517 April 2002
The plot of "Yellow Sky" may not be the most original but the performances more than make up for it. A gang of bank robbers cross a dangerous desert only to find themselves in a ghost town. But there are two inhabitants in the ruins; a young woman and her prospecting grandfather. The gang members immediately suspect that the two are hiding gold in their dilapidated mine and set out to rob them. The leader of the gang, however, (a young Gregory Peck) falls in love with the young woman (Anne Baxter) and a showdown is inevitable with the rest of the outlaws. Richard Widmark, in fine form as "Dude" a gambler/murderer with his trademark smirk intact, is Peck's main rival in the gang. The Black and White photography is excellent and the exteriors, filmed in Death Valley, give the movie a much-needed sense of realism. Director William Wellman received outstanding performances from this cast and the movie is considered a minor classic by most film historians. They don't make 'em like this anymore---but they should.
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9/10
A band of bank robbers meet their match......
johnmiatech26 September 2005
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!
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9/10
A rare gem of a western that never really got its due appreciation.
TheHG16 February 2000
This western has adventure, romance, passion, and a very heartwarming ending. The stars, Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter, have great chemistry and their acting is just wonderful. Anne Baxter is feisty and really shines in this movie. Although the movie is over half a century old, it is nonetheless very entertaining and delivers on all fronts.
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8/10
YELLOW SKY (William A. Wellman, 1948) ***1/2
Bunuel197623 April 2008
This fine, moody Western was one of a handful of efforts – heralded, incidentally, by the same director’s THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943) – which elevated the form and led the genre into its most popular (and prolific) era.

Superbly shot in crisp black-and-white by Joe MacDonald, the film makes the most of its stark location (Death Valley) and terse plot – following a robbery, a band of outlaws eludes the pursuing posse by crossing the desert and finally hitting the titular ghost town (where the only inhabitants are a grizzled prospector and his tomboyish, gun-toting half-breed niece). The cast is headed by relatively new stars of the era – Gregory Peck (in only his second Western), Anne Baxter (she had just won a Supporting Oscar for THE RAZOR’S EDGE [1946]) and Richard Widmark (this was his first of many genre outings, having only debuted a year previously) – which allowed an agreeably fresh and remarkably mature outlook on familiar themes (a small group of people fighting the elements, and themselves over lust and greed).

Though Widmark is surprisingly off-screen for long periods of time (and, consequently, tends to be overshadowed by his co-stars), this still emerges as perhaps the most satisfying among the Westerns he appeared in. For the record, he would play variations on his role here in both GARDEN OF EVIL (1954) and THE LAW AND JAKE WADE (1958); incidentally, I have two more Westerns of his lined up for this week – the former among them (see below) – as part of my tribute to the recently deceased actor. With YELLOW SKY, Peck followed his roguish turn in DUEL IN THE SUN (1946): the character is eventually revealed to be an upstanding person – an intrinsic part of the star’s on-screen persona, which he could play against effectively but did so only occasionally – forced into a life of crime by circumstances. Naturally, the gang subsequently turns on Peck for not wanting to keep all the gold to themselves – and he holes himself up in Baxter and her grandfather’s house, under siege from his former companions! Baxter, then, has been raised in a tough environment where she can practically overcome any obstacle despite her young age and sex: in fact, even more than the outlaws’ intrusion on the life she knew and the property that was rightfully hers, Baxter fears her personal reaction to them (finding herself especially drawn to Peck, who arouses her dormant feminine instincts!).

The film was adapted by Lamar Trotti (who also produced) from a novel by W.R. Burnett, an author more usually associated with gangster/noir pictures and, in fact, as can also be seen from the colorful character names here – Stretch (Peck), Dude (Widmark), Lengthy (dastardly John Russell), Half-Pint (diminutive Henry Morgan), the youthful Bull-Run, the cheerfully heavy-set Walrus, etc. – the narrative could very easily be tailored to that particular milieu. That said, when it was actually remade – in 1967 under the title THE JACKALS, and atypically featuring horror icon Vincent Price in the role of the prospector (by the way, I’ll be watching this version presently since I came across it as a rental) – it retained the Western ambiance, albeit with a difference (which I’ll discuss in that film’s own review).

At the end of the day, I’d say that YELLOW SKY is pretty much essential fare (beautifully handled by the practiced and versatile Wellman – highlighted by a three-way shoot-out which audaciously takes place in a darkened bar-room, and off-screen to boot!). Even so, the film seems to me to be relatively undervalued within the pantheon of the genre itself: for instance, it doesn’t rate as highly as Peck’s three most prestigious Western titles (the afore-mentioned “super production” DUEL IN THE SUN – elaborate, garish but overpowering, the no less grandiose and star-studded THE BIG COUNTRY [1958], and the intimate but psychologically-dense THE GUNFIGHTER [1950] – of which a second viewing is truly in order!).
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9/10
Above average
SAMinTX12 September 2001
The plot is not unique but the actors are and the realism is beyond the usual Hollywood western. I could just smell Peck's shirt! No fancy makeup for Baxter or "good side, bad side" lighting. A dusty, fine western that deserves more play.
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6/10
The desert is a harsh mistress.
michaelRokeefe11 June 2002
This is not just your ordinary western. Top stars, great scenery and a well acted, but ordinary story. Gregory Peck leads a gang of bank robbers into the desert with the law hot on the trail. Peck ends up romancing Anne Baxter; and dealing with an Arizona ghost town while trying to calm down his angry pack of thieves. Also in the cast are: Richard Widmark, John Russell, Harry Morgan and Jay Silverheels. Beautiful black & white western action.
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10/10
Way above average.
cybernet1013 April 2002
Super western the likes of, we don't see made any longer. The cast would be too expensive today. I've been waiting to see this one on TV but can't find it. The music and the sound effects alone make it worth watching, not to mention the cast and story.
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8/10
A band of outlaws on the run take refuge in a deserted ghost town, only to find two inhabitants with a golden secret.
Mickey-228 June 2007
Some westerns don't allow people to change, or reform, during its run on the screen. "Yellow Sky" allows peoples' true natures to emerge, once the influence of a gold strike in a near-empty ghost town appears. Filmed in b&w in 1948, the film stars a youthful Gregory Peck, a starlet named Anne Baxter, and a superb villainous performance by Richard Widmark.

The story begins with the band of outlaws, led by Peck, hold up a town and escape the clutches of the law by fleeing to the desert sands. They can't go back, because the legal authorities will capture them, and they have to continue to cross the flats, with an ever-dwindling water supply. One outlaw, in fact, filled his canteen with whiskey in the town they held up, and now he's begging to swap a belt of whiskey for just one sip of cool water.

Finally, just before giving up all hope, the band comes to a town called Yellow Sky, which once prospered, but now has all but expired. The two remaining occupants of the town, Anne Baxter and her grandfather, agree to let them rest, spend a few days, and that's when the outlaw band, or rather, Widmark, figures out that the two have a gold strike in the mountains nearby. Why else would they stay in a town going nowhere? Peck wishes to split the gold claim with the two occupants, while the rest of the gang, spurred on by Widmark, desires the whole cache, and if Peck doesn't agree, then they can fix that problem, too. The final shootout in the ghostly buildings of Yellow Sky resolves the conflict.

Look for good supporting performances from John Russell and Harry Morgan, as two outlaw gang members, and providing comic relief is Charles Kemper, whose career in the movies came to an end just a few years after this film was released. He plays the whiskey-guzzling Walrus to the hilt, and some film viewers would wish he had left more film roles on the screen. Overall feelings, a solid 8/10, and happy to see the release of this western classic on DVD.
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7/10
fabulous ending
loydmooney14 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
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.
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9/10
Absolutely marvelous--and I'm NOT a huge fan of Westerns
MartinHafer26 September 2006
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!

UPDATE: I just saw a remake of "Yellow Sky" called "The Jackals". Instead of the old west, it's set in South Africa and is also quite good.
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8/10
Despite the Contradictions, a Highly Entertaining Western
claudio_carvalho16 January 2015
In 1867, in the West, the gang of bank robbers led by James "Stretch" Dawson (Gregory Peck) and formed by Dude (Richard Widmark), Bull Run (Robert Arthur), Lengthy (John Russell), Half Pint (Henry Morgan), Walrus (Charles Kemper) and Jed flee after robbing a bank. However, they are hunted down by the cavalry and Jed is killed. They decide to cross desert and the soldiers stop chasing them. They arrive dehydrated and almost dead at a ghost town called Yellow Sky but a young woman called Constance "Mike" Mae (Anne Baxter) shows the location of a spring. Soon they recover and learn that Mike lives alone with her grandfather Charles Kemper (James Barton) in a house nearby the ghost town. But Dude snoops around at the area and finds prospecting tools near the house. He suspects that Mike and her grandfather could have gold hidden somewhere in the house. The outlaws press Mike and her grandfather and they make a deal with Stretch that promises to take only half the gold. But greed and lust split the gang and Stretch, who has fallen in love with Mike, has to take a decision and choose a side.

"Yellow Sky" is a highly entertaining western, despite the contradictions in the flawed story. Stretch is an outlaw that lives a conflictive situation between the gold and his love for Mike. The Grandpa sees a group of strangers stealing his savings and consequently the future if his beloved granddaughter but he saves the outlaws from the apaches. Walrus and Half Pint choose to stay with Dude and they end with Stretcher again. Dude and Lengthy are coherent characters.The sequence when the cavalry is pursuing the outlaws is impressive. Their crossing through the desert is very realistic and disturbing. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Céu Amarelo" ("Yellow Sky")
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9/10
Great film with stunning photography
owi200127 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Wellman's Yellow Sky might be one of the finest westerns of the 40s, with stunning photography, convincing dialogue and a thrilling soundtrack: there's hardly any music, instead the sounds of nature are recorded as if it was an orchestra. The only reason this is not one of the great masterpieces of world cinema (but "only" a very good film), is - in my opinion - the casting of Gregory Peck. He's not acting bad, but he's just not convincing as the bad guy turning good (as Humphrey Bogart e.g. very convincingly represented the bad guy with a golden heart). Peck just lacks the nastiness, the menace to make him believable as the leader of outlaws.
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8/10
Six outlaws with needs
bkoganbing13 April 2005
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.
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6/10
Get ready to root for the bad boys
HotToastyRag10 August 2017
Anyone who likes rooting for the cowboy in the black hat will want to rent Yellow Sky. Gregory Peck, fresh from his bad-boy role in Duel in the Sun, leads a gang of bank robbing, murdering outlaws. His second-in-command is Richard Widmark, and he's always fun to root for when he's bad!

After the gang robs a bank, they have two choices: submit to the law, or try and ride their horses across the notoriously fatal salt flats, in hopes that there's a town on the other side. Miraculously, there is a town—but it's a ghost town, with Anne Baxter and her grandfather as the only occupants. Now, if I were her, and a bunch of salivating outlaws arrived in town, I might not shake my hips while wearing ridiculously tight jeans, and I might not repeatedly bend over to get water where the boys always hang out. Then again, if she avoided them altogether, she wouldn't get to flirt with Gregory Peck, late at night, alone in the barn, where no one is around to help her if she needs it. . . I didn't like her character's repeatedly stupid behavior, and that kind of dampened my enjoyment of the movie. Anne Baxter aside, there are a couple of exciting shoot outs, so if you like Peck, Widmark, or westerns in general, you can rent this one. It's not the best, but you could do a lot worse.
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7/10
" Don't stand in our way, We're the type of men who usually take what we want "
thinker16916 December 2013
This original story was written by W. R. Burnett which was later directed by William R. Wellman. The story as it appeared on the silver screen tells of a gang of bank robbers led by none other than Gregory Peck, who ride into a small town, Rob the local bank and escape with a Posse in pursuit. Unfortunately, they also ride onto the Salt Flats without a sufficient supply of water and nearly die of thirst. Instead they discover a Ghost Town with two people still living there. An old Prospecter and his granddaughter. For many fans, the selection of Gregory Peck as James 'Stretch' Dawson the leader of the bad men, was a miscasting. In addition, other notables that usually wear white hats, such as John Russell (Lawman) and Harry Morgan (MASH) played bad guys. Still they did their best to fill the scripted parts and put together an unlikely and unusual film. The only actor who did a good job with his role was Richard Widmark who played 'Dude.' The female lead was played by Anne Baxter. The story is slow to assemble and the 'gang' is ill formed with dual leaders. Indeed, with the pretty girl becoming a secondary goal and wild marauding Apaches never becoming a definite threat, the movie makes for a poor Western. Still it was interesting to watch top stars making the best of it. ****
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6/10
Stop swinging your hips all over the place
AAdaSC20 October 2013
Gregory Peck (Stretch) leads his band of outlaws to rob a town before being forced to take exile through the desert until they come upon the ghost town of Yellow Sky. Here they come across Anne Baxter (Mike) and her grandfather James Barton (Grandpa). The gang soon work out that these two have a fortune. Greed takes over.

The film is a slight let-down in the action and tension department. Peck and Baxter are the best of the cast while outlaw Richard Widmark (Dude) is wasted. His character seems to be half missing and just about sparks into some kind of interest right at the end of the film. Too late – we don't connect with him anymore because he has been so boring and disappointing up to that point. Fellow outlaw John Russell (Lengthy) gives more of a performance as an adversary to Peck.

It is a well made film and there are some quality moments of dialogue but the film cried out for more action and more involvement from the Apaches. They were sorely missed.
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7/10
Interesting, moody western.
gazzo-222 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
*Fine cast-Gregory Peck, Harry Morgan, Richard Widmark, Anne Baxter, etc.

*Beautifully filmed, stark Death Valley backdrops, shadows, lines over the sand and rocks. You can tell its a late 40's movie.

*Has a bit of a film noire look to it as well, especially during the shootout. Watch how the moonlight filters through the curtains onto Anne Baxter and Peck in one shot especially, almost like they were a part of them...yeah I know, sounds weird. But if you see it you'll know what I mean.

*Good to see John Russell in his Leo Gordon/Lee Van Cleef baddie phase. You can't miss those eagle like eyes.

*Plot is odd-the hidden stash of gold, the tomboyish gal w/ the gun protecting her grandfather, John Russell out to rape her(yes), Peck going over to their side, Sherman Potter switching sides (twice!), the return of the loot to the bank, etc. It plays well but takes a few turns you don't expect.

*Mass cameo of 100 Apaches. They fade out about as fast as the cavalry(!) does at the beginning.

*Do see this. Peck and Widmark play off one another well *** outta ****
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7/10
Good Western with a little just a little) pysch depth to it
KingCoody9 September 2006
The Civil War has ended two years previously and among the disbanded veterans from both sides are large numbers of rootless men, more use to the campaign trail than going back to farm or town now. With like minded war hardened men, they continue to do what had once been praised and rewarded, raid. Instead of the enemy, for destruction of infrastructure and information, it's to take the loot of them soft civilians back home. A group of Union veterans led by an ex- Kansas Jayhawker, with a civilian professional gambler in their midst, plan to bring their specialty to a town in the Arizona Territory. So begins William Wellman's Yellow Sky. Gregory Peck is the leader "Stretch" Dawson was fighting in the Kansas- Missouri Border wars of the 1850's before the "Big One" started,can be seen as Wellman's way of saying the recently ended "Big One" has profoundly changed the men who fought in it and came home whole physically,but wounded emotionally.Dawson has no home to go to in Kansas his mother and father both having died while he was away in his"Blue Pants!" and the now familiar danger and camaraderie of battle is his world now. There are glimpses toned down for '40's audiences sensibilties that he's a take no prisoners coldhearted sonofabitch in a fight, a perfect match for the later to come portrayals of the BorderWars veterans, played by James Stewart and Arthur Kennedy, in Bend In the River, and Clint Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales. The simiarities between Peck's early portrayal, Stewart,and Eastwood is they are not yet totally comsumed by their efficiency as killers,unlike Arthur Kennedy, who was weakened to the point he was able to doublecross a friend. They wish a fresh start, Peck finds it in the jean wearing sharpshooter, Anne Baxter( her nickname is Mike, she hunts, c'mon now) Stewart in the farmers and Julie Adams( she starts out more traditional, but then,shows potential to becoming a Miss Kitty,with a hint that she and Arthur Kennedy did the Bronco) and Josey Wales getting "a new family to live for". Yellow Sky includes a good performance from Richard Widmark in snake mode, a lively evil coyote John Russell, plus a nice scene where the predators are gathered around the old man's bed to hear where the gold mine is. If Pecks character hadn't fallen in love or Marjorie Main been in the house no telling how ugly that would've got.
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group of outlaws go through the desert trying to escape.
mikefive29 October 1998
The film has quite a standard plot, but it's above average quality. The outlaws, Gregory Peck included, go through the desert, and enter a ghost town. One memorable scene has a desperate thirsty guy in the desert imploring to trade whisky (which he had filled his canteen with) for water. Nice black and white photography.
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7/10
"You might as well be comfortable while you're being robbed."
classicsoncall22 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Gregory Peck's "The Gunfighter" is one of my all time favorite Westerns, and along with "To Kill a Mockingbird", I've come to accept Peck as one of my favorite classic film actors. "Yellow Sky" isn't in the same league as those pictures, but it's still not a bad little Western flick boasting a top notch cast, although most of the players weren't very well established yet back in 1948. Richard Widmark is another favorite of mine, and I kind of hoped he'd have been a bit more maniacal here, seeing as how he seemed to have been cast as a Doc Holliday type. The Dude was a gambler like Holliday, and as the story progressed he broke ranks with gang leader Stretch Dawson (Peck) in an effort to chisel a ghost town's sole occupants out of their hidden cache of gold.

As a tale of greed and men falling out with each other over money and a woman the story is a fairly credible one, but the more I think about events that occurred in the picture, there were a fair number of head scratchers here. For one, where did all of Peck's wardrobe changes come from? He wore at least three different shirts in the story and they all looked pretty well pressed for traipsing across the desert. I guess he needed them to impress gun-totin' tomboy Anne Baxter, and you have to admit, they made an attractive looking pair once Dawson combed over that part of his scalp that 'Mike' grazed with a bullet. You think that was a lucky shot or a fine example of skillful marksmanship?

Now stay with me on this one, but did it make sense that Harry Morgan's character was named Half Pint? Walrus (Charles Kemper) looked like a walrus and Lengthy, even though a dumb name, looked like it fit future Lawman John Russell. I'm willing to bet that someone called actor Robert Arthur 'Bull Run' by mistake, and rather than do another take, figured it would be easier to keep Arthur as Bull Run and use Half Pint for Morgan. Just a theory, but what do you think?

So anyway, Peck's character goes from a bad, bad guy over the course of the story to a good bad guy, kind of like Jimmy Ringo in "The Gunfighter", although in that one he was trying to walk away from a reputation as a feared gunslinger. There again, I have a problem with story continuity and character relationships when after the gunfight with the rest of his gang that turned on him, Half Pint and Walrus become Dawson's pals again once Lengthy and the Dude make their way to Boot Hill.

But you know what the biggest question mark of the story for me was? You remember how down and out the gang was after crossing the salt flat; it was even mentioned by someone that the desert went on for seventy miles. Well after all the trouble at Yellow Sky, Dawson makes his way back to the bank that was robbed to open the story, repays the bank manager what was stolen, and then makes it back to Yellow Sky looking fresh as a daisy. How did he do that?
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An 'A' Cast in a 'B' Western
GManfred7 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Yellow Sky" is a static western with too many dead spots for a higher rating. After a promising start this picture almost drops dead for over an hour while the gang tries to decide what they want to do. Gregory Peck is an outlaw/horndog who leads his gang to a 'ghost' town inhabited by an old prospector and his granddaughter. Soon they determine that the two have a fortune in gold hidden somewhere nearby.

And thereby hangs a tedious tale interspersed with some attempts at frontier romance, as strange courting rites are observed between Peck and Anne Baxter, as a tomboy with the charm of a pit bull. The gang lazes around indecisive until the climactic shootout, which takes place in an abandoned saloon. But we are left outside and cannot see the action, which is typical of the overrated Wellman's style.

All ends well, and the light-hearted ending, of course, doesn't fit the rest of the picture. Gregory Peck does not do menace well, and his gang are more a group of oafs rather than desperadoes. Richard Widmark sneers a little, John Russell scowls a little, and Henry Morgan is out of place and miscast while wearing his Droopy face. A disappointing effort all around.
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