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Richard Widmark, R.I.P.

By admin Published: March 26, 2008

That's Widmark in the middle, in his landmark "Kiss of Death"

The veteran actor was 93. An obit is here. List of credits here.

While "Kiss of Death" was the movie that put him on the map (with his big scene below), I think of him more in his later years, especially when he played guys who conveyed some moral ambiguity. Even if Widmark was playing someone good, you knew he wasn't playing someone perfect. And you had to wonder if those imperfections meant that, by movie's end, he would turn out to be bad. In other words, Widmark was always an interesting actor to watch -- bringing a certain intelligence to his characters whether it was on the page or not.

I like Ephraim Katz's summary: "He has typically played tough, purposeful, hard-to-bend loners" -- although there could also be a charm to Widmark that suggested he didn't have to be alone. Women could be drawn to him; it was just a matter of whether he let them close or not. Same thing with acting, I think. Although he's quoted in the interview as growing tired of acting, and it's not clear exactly how long he was ill, he was certainly solid in later efforts like "Cold Sassy Tree." He probably could have kept going for a bit if he had chosen to. But he still left behind a more than passable resume.

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