Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Richard Widmark Moment ("Shrimp, or plate of shrimp.")

JUNGOSPHERE--It's an amazing coincidence, or there's something here: last-night, I finished watching the final Hammer horror film--"To the Devil a Daughter"--from 1976, a great film with Christopher Lee. This was the first major film role for the 18-year-old Natassja Kinski, and one of the later ones for Richard Widmark. The story is very similar to Roman Polanski's film version of "Rosemary's Baby" (1968, the year I was born).

What's interesting is that I began watching the film on Easter Sunday--it just felt right somehow, movie about satanists--and began watching it again Monday, then Tuesday night. Widmark died on Monday, and it doesn't appear that any information on the exact time is being given, but he died abruptly. On Sunday, I was watching the film, and wondered to myself, "Isn't Richard Widmark still alive? Surely, he still is, though he must be in his nineties." and I shrugged-it-off.

What's bizarre is where I stopped the film on Monday: there is a confrontation between Widmark (an expert on occultism, a "good" protagonist of the story) and Christopher Lee's heretic priest, a satanist. Widmark is literally struck-down in the scene, but he doesn't die. That's where I ended the movie, finally finishing it today...and the news flashed that Richard Widmark was dead, aged 93.

He was a great of the film noir era, one of the most creative periods of the golden age of Hollywood, and acted in films by Samuel Fuller like "Pickup on South Street" (1953), a real classic "Cold War-noir," the legendary "Kiss of Death"(1947), "Night and the City" (directed by Jules Dassin, 1950), "Broken Lance" (a western, 1954), and so many others. But it's going to be "Kiss of Death" with its scene of his character Tommy Udo pushing a wheelchair-bound old woman down a flight of stairs. When Widmark played a bad-guy, you really hated him, and he was believable--you never doubted his performances, he understood the fallen. This writer predicts more of a return to the noir-aesthetic in film, considering the darkness and uncertainty of this era (thanks Len).