In Yellow Sky Producer Lamar Trotti fashioned a fine screenplay from a story by W R Burnett, setting the action in Arizona where seven outlaws rob a bank.
One of their number is killed and, under their leader, Stretch (Gregory Peck), the survivors – Dude (Richard Widmark), Bull Run (Robert Arthur), Lengthy (John Russell), Half Pint (Henry Morgan) and Walrus (Charles Kemper) – head for the badlands. They wind up, near exhaustion, in an old ghost town in the desert and find it occupied by an old man, Granpa (James Barton), and his granddaughter (Anne Baxter).
When the outlaws learn that the old man has a cache of gold, they make a deal to share it but some of them choose to cheat. However, Stretch, who has fallen for the granddaughter, faces dissent in his ranks and takes on the double-crossers, finally killing Dude in a show-down.
The central premise – strangers in a strange place involved with a strange old man and his tomboy daughter – has strong echoes of The Tempest, reworked to considerable effect by screenwriter Trotti and director William Wellman. Spare, suspenseful direction is superbly served by Joe MacDonald’s compelling black and white cinematography of the Californian desert locations.
USA / 1949
Director: William Wellman
Writers: Lamar Trotti, from a story by W R Burnett
Cast: Gregory Peck, Anne Baxter, Richard Widmark, Robert Arthur, John Russell, Henry Morgan