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 facing Dude in a show-down.
The central premise of Yellow Sky – 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 / 98 minutes / 1948
Director:William A. Wellman
Writers:Lamar Trotti, from a story by W R Burnett,
Gregory Peck as James “Stretch” Dawson
Harry Morgan as Half Pint
Richard Widmark as Dude
Anne Baxter as Mike
John Russell as Lengthy
James Barton as Grandpa
Charles Kemper as Walrus
Victor Kilian as Bartender (uncredited)
Norman Leavitt as Bank Teller (uncredited)
William Gould as Banker (uncredited)
Robert Adler as Jed (uncredited)
Harry Carter as Cavalry Lieutenant (uncredited)
Eula Guy as Woman Bank Customer (uncredited)
Chief Yowlachie as Colorado (uncredited)
Paul Hurst as Drunk (uncredited)
Carlos Acosta as Indian (uncredited)
Jay Silverheels as Indian (uncredited)
Ray Beltram as Indian (uncredited)
Norm Taylor as Indian (uncredited)
José Sáenz as Indian (uncredited)
Robert Arthur as Bull Run
Hank Worden as Rancher, Bank Customer (uncredited)
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