27 March 2008

Richard Widmark (1914-2008)

I respected Widmark as an actor, his favorite performances for me being his starring role in Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street and his Jim Bowie in John Wayne's eccentric, underrated epic The Alamo, but I wasn't going to post anything to mark his passing until I read his obituary in the New York Times this morning. This bit jumped out at me:

Mr. Widmark told The Guardian in 1995 that he had not become a producer to make money but to have greater artistic control. “I could choose the director and my fellow actors,” he said. “I could carry out projects which I liked but the studios didn’t want.”
He added: “The businessmen who run Hollywood today have no self-respect. What interests them is not movies but the bottom line. Look at ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ which turns idiocy into something positive, or ‘Forrest Gump,’ a hymn to stupidity. ‘Intellectual’ has become a
dirty word.”
He also vowed he would never appear on a talk show on television, saying, “When I see people destroying their privacy — what they think, what they feel — by beaming it out to millions of viewers, I think it cheapens them as individuals.”

I just have to give a shout-out to the grave for sentiments like that. By the way, I've only seen one of the three films Widmark produced, but that one, The Bedford Incident, I can definitely recommend.

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