Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Richard Widmark dead at 93


Probably most famous for his role as the psychotic, giggling criminal Tommy Udo in 1947's Kiss of Death, where he pushed a woman in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs, actor Richard Widmark has passed away at age 93.

In a 1995 interview, he said: “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.”

Gotta love a guy like that. I hate Forrest Gump.

I first saw him as the bad guy in 1982's Hanky Panky, a silly comedy with Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, but by then he had long dropped the giggle and looked scary enough just looming with his white hair and cold eyes. My favorite role of his were in 50's noir- Jules Dassin's Night and the City as a hustler wrestling promoter, and in Sam Fuller's excellent Pickup on South Street, as a pickpocket. I recommend both of those movies if you like the genre, they are top shelf, and both available on DVD. Kiss of Death is no slouch either, where Victor Mature plays a young ex-con trying to go straight, with Widmark coming after him, bent on revenge. It's worth it alone for Widmark's performance.

RIP, Mr. Widmark. Don't push any wheelchairs off the clouds up there.

Photo shamelessly nabbed from www.lileks.com which you should check out, where nostalgia has never been so funny.

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