Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Richard Widmark

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Richard Widmark - Stardates: Born December 26, 1914, Sunrise, Minnesota; died 2008. Star Sign: Capricorn. Star Qualities: Piercing blue eyes, scary laugh, commanding authority as villain or hero. Star definition: "He let his acting do the talking, snarling and giggling. And that was eloquent enough." -- Critic Richard Corliss. Galaxy of Characters: Skip McCoy in Pickup on South Street, Sgt. Thorne Ryan in Take the High Ground, Dr. Stewart "Mac" McIver in The Cobweb, Col. Tom Rossiter in Alvarez Kelly.

Widmark was an expert when it came to film noir, no more so then in Pickup on South Street, Sam Fuller's gritty crime thriller about pickpockets, top secret microfilm and Communist spy rings. One of the hallmarks of noir, in addition to the shadowy cinematography and shady dealings of the plot, is crackling dialogue, laced with street slang of the day, such as this monologue delivered by Widmark's petty thief, Skip McCoy:

"I know you pinched me three times and got me convicted three times and made me a three time loser. And I know you took an oath to put me away for life. Well you're trying awful hard with all this patriotic eyewash, but get this: I didn't grift that film and you can't prove I did! And if I said I did, you'd slap that fourth rap across my teeth no matter what promises you made!"

Pickup on South Street airs tomorrow on TCM at 8:00 PM EST.

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