Yellow Sky (1948)

99 mins | Western | December 1948

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writer:

Lamar Trotti

Producer:

Lamar Trotti

Cinematographer:

Joseph MacDonald

Editor:

Harmon Jones

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Albert Hogsett

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased William Riley Burnett's unpublished novel for $35,000 in Nov 1947. All drafts of the screenplay were written by Lamar Trotti. In a memo from studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, Walter Huston was suggested for the role of "Grandpa" and Fred Clark for "Lengthy." Paulette Goddard was originally cast as "Mike." The studio cast list isolates a credit to Jay Silverheels as "Indian," but he was not identifiable in the print viewed.
       Exteriors were filmed at Death Valley National Monument, with the cast and crew living at Furnace Creek Inn and Camp, which was leased from the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Clarence Y. "Fat" Jones supplied horses from Hollywood for the picture. According to a studio press release contained in the AMPAS Library, a construction crew of 150 built a ghost town on the desert near Lone Pine, CA, by demolishing a movie set, called Last Outpost, that Tom Mix had built in 1923. At the request of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the horses worked only three hours a day in the intense heat. Contemporary reviews commented on the effectiveness of the soundtrack, which contained almost no music, relying instead on natural sound effects.
       The opening and closing music was taken from Alfred Newman's score for the 1940 Twentieth Century-Fox film Brigham Young-Frontiersman , which was also written by Lamar Trotti (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0488). A radio adaptation of Yellow Sky , starring ... More Less

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased William Riley Burnett's unpublished novel for $35,000 in Nov 1947. All drafts of the screenplay were written by Lamar Trotti. In a memo from studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, included in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, Walter Huston was suggested for the role of "Grandpa" and Fred Clark for "Lengthy." Paulette Goddard was originally cast as "Mike." The studio cast list isolates a credit to Jay Silverheels as "Indian," but he was not identifiable in the print viewed.
       Exteriors were filmed at Death Valley National Monument, with the cast and crew living at Furnace Creek Inn and Camp, which was leased from the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Clarence Y. "Fat" Jones supplied horses from Hollywood for the picture. According to a studio press release contained in the AMPAS Library, a construction crew of 150 built a ghost town on the desert near Lone Pine, CA, by demolishing a movie set, called Last Outpost, that Tom Mix had built in 1923. At the request of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the horses worked only three hours a day in the intense heat. Contemporary reviews commented on the effectiveness of the soundtrack, which contained almost no music, relying instead on natural sound effects.
       The opening and closing music was taken from Alfred Newman's score for the 1940 Twentieth Century-Fox film Brigham Young-Frontiersman , which was also written by Lamar Trotti (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.0488). A radio adaptation of Yellow Sky , starring Peck and hosted by director William A. Wellman, was broadcast on Screen Directors' Playhouse on NBC on 15 Jul 1949. The film was remade in 1967 as The Jackals . Filmed in South Africa by producer-director Robert D. Webb, The Jackals starred Robert Gunner, Diana Iverson and, as the old man, Vincent Price. The 1967 film was not released theatrically in the U.S. but has been televised, syndicated through Twentieth Century-Fox. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Nov 1948.
---
Daily Variety
22 Nov 48
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
24 Nov 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 48
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 48
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 49
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Oct 48
p. 4342.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Nov 48
p. 4397.
New York Times
2 Feb 49
p. 36.
Variety
24 Nov 48
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
MUSIC
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Yellow Sky by W. R. Burnett (unpublished).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I'm Sad and I'm Lonely," traditional.
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1948
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 14 January 1949
Production Date:
26 May--14 July 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
21 December 1948
Copyright Number:
LP2095
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
99
Length(in feet):
8,873
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13224
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1867, outlaws Dude, Bull Run, Lengthy, Half Pint, Walrus, Jed, and leader James Dawson, who is known as Stretch, rob the bank in Rameyville and are pursued by a cavalry detachment. Jed is killed but the others manage to outride the soldiers. After dividing up their ill-gotten money, the outlaws head away from civilization across desert salt flats. The going is very rough and disputes break out among the men. Severely dehydrated, the outlaws eventually come upon a ghost town called Yellow Sky, where a woman named Mike surprises them and holds them at gunpoint but tells them of a spring nearby. Later, when Stretch tries to enter one of the abandoned houses, Mike again points a rifle at him and forbids him to go in. Stretch removes his gun belt, explaining that they only want to rest the horses for four or five days and that they need food. Stretch knocks Mike's rifle away but she socks him on the jaw, knocking him down. Mike's armed grandfather then emerges from the house and offers food for a night. Stretch warns the others to stay away from the house and from Mike, who he has learned was reared by Apaches. While the men bunk in an old saloon, Dude begins snooping around and Stretch goes looking for him. Stretch encounters Mike and tries to kiss her, but she fights him off, telling him that he smells. Although Dude tells Stretch that the old man has discovered gold nearby, Stretch still intends to move on. The next day, Stretch spruces himself up but discovers that Mike and Grandpa have disappeared into the foothills. After Dude persuades the other men ... +


In 1867, outlaws Dude, Bull Run, Lengthy, Half Pint, Walrus, Jed, and leader James Dawson, who is known as Stretch, rob the bank in Rameyville and are pursued by a cavalry detachment. Jed is killed but the others manage to outride the soldiers. After dividing up their ill-gotten money, the outlaws head away from civilization across desert salt flats. The going is very rough and disputes break out among the men. Severely dehydrated, the outlaws eventually come upon a ghost town called Yellow Sky, where a woman named Mike surprises them and holds them at gunpoint but tells them of a spring nearby. Later, when Stretch tries to enter one of the abandoned houses, Mike again points a rifle at him and forbids him to go in. Stretch removes his gun belt, explaining that they only want to rest the horses for four or five days and that they need food. Stretch knocks Mike's rifle away but she socks him on the jaw, knocking him down. Mike's armed grandfather then emerges from the house and offers food for a night. Stretch warns the others to stay away from the house and from Mike, who he has learned was reared by Apaches. While the men bunk in an old saloon, Dude begins snooping around and Stretch goes looking for him. Stretch encounters Mike and tries to kiss her, but she fights him off, telling him that he smells. Although Dude tells Stretch that the old man has discovered gold nearby, Stretch still intends to move on. The next day, Stretch spruces himself up but discovers that Mike and Grandpa have disappeared into the foothills. After Dude persuades the other men to locate and take the gold, Stretch confronts him about the leadership of the gang. Their argument is interrupted when Mike shoots at Stretch and they realize they are pinned down. Waving a white shirt of surrender, Stretch approaches Mike and Grandpa while the others sneak behind them. Grandpa is shot in the leg and Mike surrenders. Back in the house, Stretch offers to make a deal, and the wounded Grandpa admits they do have gold. Mike is unwilling to give the men anything, but Grandpa suggests they split the $50,000 they have buried in the entrance to an old mine shaft. As Dude has a bad lung, he is assigned to guard Grandpa and Mike while the others start clearing the entrance to the shaft. Later, when Mike goes to the spring for water, Lengthy grabs her, but Bull Run intervenes. As a lesson, Stretch holds Lengthy's head under water for a long time. That night, after Stretch and Mike embrace, Stretch assures Grandpa that they that they will share the gold as promised. While Dude listens at a window, Stretch swears on a Bible that he will honor his part of the deal. Stretch and Mike then reveal their real names and he discovers she is really Constance May. As the men begin to recover the gold from the shaft entrance, they see a large group of Apaches in the distance. The Indians take over the town while the gang remains at the spring. Stretch goes into town to see what is happening and observes several Indians talking with Grandpa and Mike. When questioned, Grandpa claims the Apaches were merely seeking his help in resolving a problem on the reservation, and were unaware of the gang's presence. The next day, Stretch impresses upon the others that Grandpa and Mike must get their full share of the gold. However, Dude convinces the others to refuse the deal and shoots at Stretch, wounding him. Mike comes to Stretch's aid and takes him back to the ranch house. The gold-crazy Dude then tries to trick Stretch by saying he will now honor his deal with Grandpa and Mike. However, Dude draws his gun and starts shooting. Walrus and Bull Run join up with Stretch, but Bull Run is badly injured and dies. Half Pint then throws in with Stretch, who goes after Dude and the injured Lengthy. Dude is loading up his saddle bags with the gold when Stretch catches up with him. After a shootout, Mike finds Dude and Lengthy dead and Stretch wounded. After Stretch recovers, he, Walrus and Half Pint return every cent of the stolen money to the bank in Rameyville. When they return to Mike and Grandpa, Stretch presents Mike with a hat which he bought from a bank customer, and they all ride off together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.