Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Richard Widmark, like Robert Mitchum and Glenn Ford before him, was perennially neglected by the enervating Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences during his lifetime. Each year during its tedious giveaway show, the Academy predictably turns its back on some of its most invaluable home-grown, back-lot icons, such as Widmark, Mitchum, Ford and the wonderful Ida Lupino.
After producing trash for 10 months out of the year, the movie industry suddenly becomes self-conscious, self-important and more than a little snobbish at awards time. Richard Widmark? No, it instead chooses to honor someone invariably from Great Britain (Peter O'Toole, anybody?) with one of its special awards - or a filmmaker whose overall contribution to the art was relatively limited (an undeserving Elia Kazan, who happened to direct Widmark in "Panic in the Streets").
Now, it's too late. For Widmark, at least. (Memo to the Academy: It's still not too late to honor Doris Day. Or how about Jerry Lewis?)
Oh, well... Moving on, American Movie Classics has telecast one of Widmark's last great films (and great performances) several times recently. Stuart Millar's modern Western, "When the Legends Die" (1972), has been penciled in again by AMC for 6 a.m. (est) on Saturday, April 12th. Millar's fine, autumnal film introduced Frederic Forrest to the screen, but it's Widmark who totally holds each frame.
Also, Turner Classics Movies will show Edward Dmytryk's "Alvarez Kelly" (1966) at 2 p.m. (est) this coming Saturday, March 29th. The Western teamed Widmark with William Holden and co-stars Janice Rule, Patrick O'Neal and Victoria Shaw. And on Friday night, April 4th, Turner will air a Widmark triple feature: “Alvarez Kelly,” “Take the High Ground” and “The Tunnel of Love.”
Note in Passing: For first-rate appreciations of Richard Widmark, the man and the actor, check out Aljean Harmetz's and Dave Kehr's two terrific pieces in the New York Times. You might also want to peruse the comments about Widmark on Dave's blog, Reports from the Lost Continent of Cinéphilia.
(Artwork: The many sides of Richard Widmark, a true classic)
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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com
Posted by joe baltake at 2:37 PM