It seems no one has ever had an unkind word for Yellow Sky
, yet somehow this handsome, hard-edged, and very well-made late-'40s Western remains little-known. That may change with its release on a DVD so crisp and luminous, one wants to swear off Technicolor and luxuriate in the frosty glow of its highlights, the velvet blackness of its shadows, and the electric silver-gray of its desert skies.
Story's pretty good, too. Seven men led by Gregory Peck ride into a small Southwest town, wet their whistles at the saloon, then hold up the bank with a minimum of fuss. Escaping should be a cinch, except for a troop of cavalry who reduce their number to six and watch the survivors ride off into a desert they probably won't live to cross. Unexpected salvation looms in the form of Yellow Sky, a ghost town where the bandits find water, an old man (James Barton) and his tomboy granddaughter (Anne Baxter)--and the tempting rumor of gold. That's when the real trouble starts. The criminal partnership is severely strained by greed, several varieties of lust (for the girl as well as the treasure), the troublesome onset of conscience in some breasts and its total absence from others--notably Richard Widmark's.
Yellow Sky re-teams director William A. Wellman and writer-producer Lamar Trotti, who five years earlier had made The Ox-Bow Incident, an authentic but rather pretentious Western classic. Yellow Sky's opening scene is all but lifted from Ox-Bow (along with two character actors), but this time around, Wellman eschews self-importance and just concentrates on spinning a gritty yarn (from a novel by W.R. Burnett). Apart from sequences shot in Death Valley, the principal location is Yellow Sky itself, a grand ruin set against the timeless backdrop of the Alabama Hills. And oh yes, the man responsible for those awesome whites, blacks, and silver-grays is Joe MacDonald, the cinematographer of My Darling Clementine. --Richard T. Jameson
Oscar®-winner* Gregory Peck (To Kill A Mockingbird) stars in this ?brilliantly cast? (The Hollywood Reporter) Western epic featuring ?an unusually fine story and magnificent direction ? unleashing dramatic power seldom found in this type of film!? (Daily Variety)
A band of outlaws, led by tough, gruff Stretch (Peck) find themselves knocking at death?s door after becoming lost in the treacherous western Badlands ? only to find their salvation in a lonesome town called Yellow Sky, where the only inhabitants are a doddering old man and his mysterious, alluring daughter. But their deliverance from danger is short-lived when the gang discovers a fateful secret hidden within the dusty, rotting walls of this ghost town ? one that will turn brother against brother in a desperate battle to the death!