Richard Widmark 1914 – 2008
I was sad to learn of Richard Widmark’s death this morning after returning from my vacation. He lived a long and productive life, but Widmark has long been one of my favorite actors and since I share my birthday with the man I’ve always felt a sort of camaraderie with him. Widmark was a truly talented actor who could play incredibly nasty bad guy such as the iconic Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death (1947) or a heroic doctor in Panic in the Streets (1950) with an equal measure of skill. He might not be “typically” attractive by Hollywood standards, but in his younger years he was a great looking man with a wicked grin and he was just lot of fun to watch. In recent years actors and directors such as Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro and Peter Bogdonavich had been trying to get him awarded with an Honorary Oscar since he had never received one, but sadly that won’t happen now and it’s a shame.
Besides Kiss of Death and Panic in the Streets, some of my favorite Widmark performances can be found in a lot of the early noir films he made and stylish crime thrillers such as The Street with No Name (1948), Night and the City (1950), No Way Out (1950), Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) and Pickup on South Street (1953), which all come with my highest recommendation, but he was also terrific in the influential sixties era police drama Madigan (1968) and he appeared in some entertaining horror films and thrillers in the seventies such as Murder on the Orient Express (1974), To the Devil a Daughter (1976), Rollercoaster (1977), The Swarm (1978) and Coma (1978). He often made sub par films more watchable just with his presence. These days’ actors with Widmark’s kind of charisma and versatility are few and far between in my opinion and he’ll be missed.