Anne Baxter (7 May 1923 – 12 December 1985)
This is an entry for the 2016 TCM Summer Under the Stars Blogathon.
Anne Baxter. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d never heard of her before watching Yellow Sky (1948) (but that’s now a good number of years ago and I’m the wiser now). The only reason I came across Yellow Sky was because I was searching for movies that weren’t of the “romance” genre but still had some sort of romance. I have a weakness for Western, Action or Adventure type movies where the main character/s fall in love (and I’m not fussy – I’m happy with an understated romance).
I was rewarded with what was to become one of my favourite movies but also with an introduction to a really wonderful actress. The story is about a gang of bank robbers who, while fleeing the law, survive a grueling trip across a desert to finally make it to a seemingly abandoned mining town. They discover ‘Mike’ Constance Mae (Anne Baxter) and Grandpa (James Barton) whom they come to suspect as having struck gold. As the gang is stirred up with their own politics (gold can cause tension), so are ‘Mike’ and James ‘Stretch’ Dawson (Gregory Peck), the gang leader.
What a great role to have been introduced to Anne Baxter. I like her because she strikes a chord with me. Ever since I was a little girl I had this romantic notion of being a cowgirl who could hold her own. And ‘Mike’ does just that. She is tough yet feminine and never clingy or whiny. To top it off, she also stands by her ethics of hard work and honesty (she tells ‘Stretch’ and the gang that they know nothing of building up a life, a dream. She accuses them of being takers. Which they are I guess. Although, one could motivate each one’s actions). ‘Mike’ is totally dedicated to her Grandpa and will do anything to protect him and what they have worked for together (She almost wants to protect him more than herself). However, just because she lives with her Grandpa and no other company around, she isn’t totally ignorant or naïve, having very natural responses when she encounters ‘Stretch’. Yes, she can’t immediately pin-point them but she knows he makes her feel good. Despite her pants and gun belt she’s still a lady under all that outer toughness and even has a leaflet of a beautiful dress pinned up in her room. She’s clear on exactly what she wants and what not – rudeness and scruffiness are certainly not going to be accepted and, outlaw or not, she makes that very clear to ‘Stretch’. And he takes it…now that’s a woman. This said, she’s never nasty or mean. Just and fair, I’d say.
Anne Baxter takes on this role with ease and it comes across that she’s not scared to get her boots dusty. I believe that every role finds its relevant actor/actress and this one she most definitely pulls off. I couldn’t imagine another actress from her day taking on this character, so natural and convincing…she’s really ‘Mike’. With the spunk and the looks, she never comes across as a “tart” or ditsy woman. I’d say she’s perfect.
‘Stretch’ tells Grandpa “You’ve got yourself quite a granddaughter Mister”. Absolutely.