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It's time to talk about Richard Widmark. AS far as I know, it's not his birthday, nor the anniversary of his death or even the anniversary of his first film. I just got to thinking about him, maybe because I was thinking about actors' looks and how much attention we pay to them. Widmark generated so much energy on the screen, you sort of don't get around to thinking about whether he was handsome or ugly. Sometimes he was both, at the same time. He could be so appealing you're fooled into thinking he's great-looking, and so repellent you'd swear he's the most unattractive actor in classic films. He could play good guy, bad guy, sap, maniac. What an actor.

 

Richard_Widmark_1.jpg

 

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 30, 2010 11:10 PM

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 30, 2010 11:19 PM

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 30, 2010 11:21 PM

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Richard Widmark always gave you his best, even if the film wasn't anything to write home about, his performances were. A quite family man who you never read or heard of any scandal concerning him. He was married to his first wife Jean Hazlewood for 55 years until her death.At one time he was the father-in-law of Dodger ace Sandy Koufax..

His first film role of Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death" got him his only Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He lost , but got the Golden Globe that year.The films director Henry Hathaway didn't want him in the part, but studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck did. He said Hathaway made life miserable for him during the shoot.. Widmark could play hero or heavy with equal believability.He was able to work with his film idol Spencer Tracy twice, "Broken Lance" and "Judgement at Nuremberg". The volumn of his work is a testimony to his talent. He was one of my all time favorites......

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Fredb,

 

A few years back, a couple of friends that I have known since my early days in Los Angeles (can it really be over 30 years that I have called the City of Angels home? Yep) and I got together (as we are wont to do every few months) at El Coyote on Beverly Blvd. Their food may not be as good as it once was but the margaritas are still quite good.

 

We were sitting at a table on the side patio and all around us were the typical LA poseurs. It was early in the evening and the Coyote was obviously their first stop on their long, alcoholic crawl of Hollywood.

 

Across from us sat an elderly gentleman enjoying his dinner and the two others dining with him.

 

The four of us were probably the only people sitting in the patio who realized we were all dining in the presence of Richard Widmark.

 

He made no waves, made no grand gestures, was just a regular customer having dinner.

 

We, of course, had to try hard not to gush.

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I never knew that (that Richard Widmark did radio.)

 

I like Mr Widmark best in his noir roles - my absolute favourite is *Pickup on South Street*, as Skip McCoy. Also *Night and the City*. In these films, he plays someone neither "good" nor "bad", neither a hero nor a maniac. I like the grey areas he explores in these characters.

 

lzcutter, that must have been a thrill, looking over your table to see Richard Widmark so near you. Were you tempted to speak to him? You said no one else seemed to realize who he was, so it's not as though he would have been swamped with fans.

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Lucky girl, I would have been gushing also.To me he will always be Tommy Udo, because he made such an impression,in fact orders came down from Zanack after viewing the film and while Victor Mature was the star, to "Sell Richard Widmark" in the promos for the film. But he did so many varied roles. Him and John Wayne were such opposites in their political beliefs, Widmark was such a strong anti gun advocate and he often said he would never permit a gun in his house. But Wayne knew talent and cast him as James Bowie in "The Alamo" anyway. I understand they had quite a few vocal arguments during filming. One of my favorite roles of his was "Madigan", both the film and TV series. He did some outstanding westerns in the 1950's and 60's. The "The Last Wagon" by Delmer Daves is one of his best and John Ford's "Two Road Together", while not one of Fords best is still better then most is another example of his talent. Widmark said of John Ford, "I treasured the days of working with John Ford.". I guess the feeling was mutual, Ford again directed him in "Cheyenne Autumn".Carrol Baker, his co-star said she fell in love with Widmark during the filming of the picture. One of his most scarey roles was as the bigoted brother in "No Way Out' with Sidney Poitier. He and Widmark became life long friends and worked together in two other films' The Long Ships" and The Bedford Incident". He was indeed a fine actor and man.......

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I don't think he had classic good looks...if so, he would've been getting some of Gable's roles in the 50s...instead, he has to play the larger-than-life villain in order to own a picture. But he's a fun actor and effective in most genres he attempted.

 

My most favorite Richard Widmark moment on film is in ROAD HOUSE...when Ida blows him to smithereens.

 

I think my least favorite performance of his is in MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. I also dislike Anthony Hopkins in that one. At that point in Hollywood, both actors have become so typecast, that they are no longer being pushed to stretch their acting muscles...they are just going through the motions and turning in stock performances.

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*Road House* gives Widmark another chance to show that maniacal side. Great noir movie. Ida Lupino as usual, gives a truly classy performance. I'm always kind of indifferent to Cornel Wilde, though.

 

Richard Widmark was also in a lot of Westerns, as fredbaetz pointed out. He was equally fascinating to watch in these, again, sometimes the "good" guy, sometimes the villain.

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There are a few scenes, I believe in Kiss of Death and perhaps in

Pickup on South Street, where, from a medium shot of him in profile in

a jail cell, Widmark looks like the ventriloquist's dummy from

Dead of Night. No, Michael Redgrave didn't make me write this.

 

I think it might be the anniversary of when he purchased the dinner plate

size hat he wore in Kiss of Death. That was the mother of all hats.

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> {quote:title=ClassicViewer wrote:}{quote}

> I don't think he had classic good looks...

 

There was a thread on the boards a few months ago about looks and sex appeal.

 

Widmark may not have looked like a young Rob Taylor in the face but he definitely had sex appeal....I can't imagine what directors would have done with him if his film debut was in the 70s vs the 40s.....take a look at his hotel suite scenes with Marilyn Monroe in *Don't Bother to Knock*, his scenes with Jean Peters in *Pickup on South Street*, and his scenes with Linda Darnell in *Slattery's Hurricane*.

 

I am assuming you haven't seen him in *National Lampoon's Movie Madness* ...

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I think you are making a leap there. I mentioned looks, not sex appeal. Someone can still have a lot of sexual energy and charisma without having that chiseled, model-gorgeous look. Obviously, there are varying degrees of sexiness and attractiveness.

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Ladies, if you read my original post about him, you will see that I make that very point, that Widmark could be extremely attractive, sexy, actually, even though he did not have "traditional" good looks.That's one of the things about him that made him so interesting. He could be downright "hot", to use today's terminology (although that term seems somehow silly and demeaning when you apply it to classic actors and actresses), and he could be downright repellent. It's something about the energy he had.

 

What prompted me to post a thread about him (besides the fact that it's the anniversary of his purchasing the hat he wore in *Kiss of Death* ) was all the threads we have about classic actors and actresses (mostly actresses) and their looks. For example, the thread about Patricia Clarkson/Joan Fontaine - this got me thinking about how much attention we all pay to actors' appearances. It's so much a part of the fascination we have with these people and the movies they're in.

 

Another actor who's not " classically" handsome but very sexy is John Garfield. Again, it's something about the energy he brings to whatever role he's playing that captures our attention. Cagney had this quality too.

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The first time I went to the Telluride Film Festival (I think it may have been 1982), they were honoring Widmark. Was able to see "Pickup on South Street" for the first time with the star in attendance. Afterward, he did a q&a, which was a real treat, since I know he wasn't big on doing interviews or personal appearances. He seemed humble and real gentleman.

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I suppose Richard Widmark was my favorite actor growing up. He had unbelievable versatility, charm and sex appeal. He could break your heart in a movie like *Gus*, where he played a single dad; and he could be so cold in *Broken Lance* where he played masterfully opposite Spencer Tracy.

 

He did his share of war movies, *Take the High Ground* and *Hell and High Water*. He did more than his share of westerns--good ones too--"Garden of Evil" with Coop and *Two Rode Together* with Jimmy Stewart. And who could forget "Cheyenne Autumn*.

 

He was wonderful in a a tender love story like "Cobweb" with Lauren Bacall, directed by Minnelli.

And he made the police genre his own with "Madigan".

 

But I suppose, aside from "Broken Lance", my favorite movie of his was "Alvarez Kelly". Him with that crazy southern accent and Bill Holden so drunk they had to tie him on the horse. The whole thing was so much fun--but Widmark played it for real.

 

And then there's his long-term relationship with Sidney Poitier. The movies they made together were historical for their time and quite good.

 

To sum it up--I never understood why he didn't get the roles or the status of Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster. Maybe he didn't promote himself enough, I don't know.

 

But I always thought he was better than Kirk Douglas-- and a hell of a lot easier to look at.

 

What an actor!

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Fredbaetz mentions Richard Widmark's role of detective Dan Madigan from the 67 movie and the TV movies done a few years after. The TV series is where I got my first real impressions of Widmark, and a great series it was. I understand they wanted him to do a second season but he declined. I started to watch Widmark movies after that, it was startling to see the early Widmark (Kiss Of Death, etc.) but I gained even greater appreciation for his acting. He had a terrific career and I admire him for his integrity and his desire to keep his personal life private. He was admired by his peers and its been said he had a great sense of humor. He was certainly nothing like Tommy Udo or any of those other SOB characters he was so good at playing. I wish he would have been a little more willing to do interviews or appear on talk shows. I think he would have been great with Johnny Carson or some other talk show hosts. Anyway, Richard Widmark is definitely one of my all time favorite actors.

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Ok, I'm going to come right out and say it, if people haven't deduced this from my earlier comments: I think Richard Widmark was one of the sexiest classic actors there is. That scene he does with Jean Peters in *Pickup on South Street* is steamy. I do like him in his later roles, but for me, he's in the same category as Robert MItchum. There's something about these two guys, especially in their younger days, especially their noir roles, that's - what word should I use? for lack of a better one, "hot".

 

Widmark was great of course in his westerns and war movies too. But it's his energy, and his quirkiness in the noir and crime films he did that make him so appealing to me.

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That guy Skip was such a gentleman, he was willing to "share" his beer with a total stranger (Candy), even after she broke into his home. After exchanging a few "friendly slaps" with her to demonstrate their mutual affection for each other, Skip goes to call on her ex boyfriend to explain the situation by beating the stuffing out of him (only after ex boyfriend shoots and kills Skip's friend Moe and also roughs up Candy (also known as Muffin). Candy makes a miraculous recovery from her injuries and with a friendly endorsement from the police, Skip and Candy (Muffin) go off to live happily ever after. That Richard Widmark can be quite the ladies man.

 

Edited by: mrroberts on Aug 1, 2010 9:08 PM

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mrroberts, I don't know how to explain this. Skip McCoy's behaviour is hardly exemplary. I would never try to claim he was a "gentleman". Unfortunately, people don't often seem to be attracted to those who are ladies or gentlemen. Yes, he was quite rough with Jean Peters, and I have considered how uncomfortable that is, the roughness and the sexual attraction in one scene. It didn't seem to bother Jean Peters' character. Maybe the guy she was with was even worse.

 

I do agree, the "happy ending" to *Pickup on South Street* is implausible. I would have preferred it if Skip had been killed. ( I know that sounds harsh, but the two of them walking into the sunset, more or less, just seems all wrong.)

 

Lack of chivalry notwithstanding, Widmark gives this character an undeniable appeal.

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Misswonderly, I hope you realize I was trying to be a little humorous in my last comment. Pickup On South Street is a great film and I am a big Widmark fan and I adore Jean Peters. I think Sam Fuller was having some fun making this film, and I believe the actors were having fun too. Richard Widmark had a lot of nice comments about working with Jean, especially in contrast to working with Marilyn Monroe. As best I can as a man, I can understand that many women would find Widmark appealing in many of his film roles.

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sorry, mrroberts, maybe I was a little po-faced. I think I took your post so seriously because I do have some discomfort with the combination of sexual attraction and the potential for violence, and this is plainly present in some of the scenes with Widmark and Peters in *Pickup* . But Candy (is that her name?) isn't attracted to Skip because he throws a few punches. And I see Skip as basically a nice guy, or at least, not a violent one, who's just looking out for himself.

 

I agree, watching this film, if feels as though everyone involved is having fun.

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