The Elmore Leonard Home Page

The Official
Elmore Leonard Website



The Bounty Hunters
The Law at Randado
Escape from Five Shadows
Last Stand at Saber River
The Big Bounce
The Moonshine War
Valdez is Coming
Forty Lashes Less One
Mr. Majestyk
Fifty-Two Pickup
Unknown Man No. 89
The Hunted
The Switch
City Primeval
Gold Coast
Split Images
Cat Chaser
Freaky Deaky
Get Shorty
Maximum Bob
Rum Punch
Riding the Rap
Out of Sight
Cuba Libre
Be Cool
Pagan Babies
Tishomingo Blues
Mr. Paradise
A Coyote’s in the House
The Hot Kid
Comfort to the Enemy
Up in Honey’s Room
Road Dogs


The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard
The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories
When the Women Come Out to Dance
Trail of the Apache
Apache Medicine
You Never See Apaches…
Red Hell Hits Canyon Diablo
The Colonel’s Lady
Law of the Hunted One
Cavalry Boots
Under the Friar’s Ledge
The Rustlers
Three Ten to Yuma
The Big Hunt
Long Night
The Boy Who Smiled
The Hard Way
The Last Shot
Blood Money
Trouble at Rindo’s Station
Saint with a Six-Gun
The Captives
No Man’s Guns
The Rancher’s Lady
Moment of Vengeance
Man with the Iron Arm
The Longest Day of his Life
The Nagual
The Kid
The Treasure of Mungo’s Landing
The Bull Ring at Blisston
Only Good Ones
The Tonto Woman
Hurrah for Captain Early
Karen Makes Out
The Odyssey
Hanging Out at the Buena Vista
Fire in the Hole
Chickasaw Charlie Hoke
When the Women Come Out to Dance
Showdown at Checotah
Louly and Pretty Boy
Chick Killer (2011)
Ice Man

Film and TV

Moment of Vengeance
3:10 to Yuma
The Tall T
The Big Bounce (I)
The Moonshine War
Valdez is Coming
Joe Kidd
Mr. Majestyk
High Noon, Part II
52 Pickup
The Rosary Murders
Glitz (TV)
Cat Chaser
Border Shootout
Split Images
Get Shorty
Last Stand at Saber River
Elmore Leonard’s Gold Coast (TV)
Jackie Brown
Maximum Bob
Out of Sight
Karen Sisco
The Big Bounce (II)
Be Cool (2005)
The Ambassador
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Killshot (2009)
Freaky Deaky
The Tonto Woman
Life of Crime

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

‘3:10 to Yuma’ Gets Derailed By Epic Ambitions

This review comes closer to Elmore’s view of “3:10 to Yuma.”



‘3:10 to Yuma’ Gets ?Derailed By Epic Ambitions
Crowe’s Vivid Villain;
September 7, 2007; Page W1

The first thing to be said about James Mangold’s remake of “3:10 To Yuma” is that it’s a thoroughly modern showcase for fine actors: Russell Crowe as the outlaw Ben Wade, a bad guy with a tinge, or a twinge, of good; Christian Bale as the rancher Dan Evans, a forlorn guy who finds his inner hero; Gretchen Mol, Dallas Roberts, Peter Fonda as a bounty hunter and the glint-eyed, scene-thieving Ben Foster as Wade’s henchman. Still, the modernization has bestowed mixed blessings. The basic plot survives intact, and intriguing as ever. The picture looks great: Phedon Papamichael’s elegant color cinematography has replaced Charles Lawton Jr.‘s elegant black-and-white cinematography. And the action sequences are impressive, for a while. Yet the whole enterprise is seriously out of scale. What began half a century ago as a small, taut Western has become an extended, self-serious and, in the end, ludicrously distended spectacle that seems to bring the Yuma train to the station 20 minutes late.

The starting point of the plot is a conflict of interests that turns into a clash of values. After the infamous Wade is captured by lawmen, Evans, who is broke and about to lose his ranch, volunteers for a few hundred dollars to deliver the outlaw to a train that will take him to trial. Wade’s interest is in escaping, of course, or buying his escape. Evans, anything but an idealist, is interested only in the reward. The question is whether the rancher can be bought, but it’s not the only question in a film, originally based on a story by Elmore Leonard, that explores issues of morality and integrity. Does every man have his price, as Wade believes, or can something more govern human behavior? (Hint: Keep an eye out for something more.)

Russell Crowe, looking cheerfully dissolute with a smirk beneath an obligatory black hat, keeps all eyes riveted on him, even when the mind games Ben Wade plays with his captor wear thin. Wade is a villain, by his own admission—indeed, by his own insistence—but a complex, seductive one who quotes the Bible and does an admirable pencil sketch of a woman he admires. Christian Bale, a specialist in mutedness, risks painting Dan Evans as a dislikable weasel as well as a mercenary, but there’s ample room for the character’s growth, and the actor fills it. (Now and then, though, both men grow so muted that they seem to be trying to outminimalize one another.)

The director, Mr. Mangold, has a gift for working with actors. He displayed it in “Walk the Line,” and he uses it here to elicit vivid performances from his supporting cast as well as his stars. (I found Peter Fonda’s presence particularly moving, and, at the other end of the chronological scale, I liked Logan Lerman’s performance as the rancher’s young son.) But the film gets to be cluttered with picturesque characters and their posturings—a plethora of poses, scowls and leers. And one can debate the ambiguities of the ending—which substantially resembles the original—but the febrile and semicoherent action climax that precedes it leaves logic in the dust. Instead of taking on seven gunmen, as in the original, the movie’s newly minted man of honor must now shoot his way through what amounts to a whole town.

That’s not to enshrine the 1957 version, which was directed by Delmer Daves, as a masterpiece that contemporary Hollywood vandals have defaced. And clearly there’s no going back to a time when a small, taut feature was enough to bring an audience to a theater. In our own time, though, when movies must compete with many media and producers want their features to be big events, it’s worth thinking about what made the original noteworthy. The performances, to be sure—Glenn Ford and Van Heflin were superb—and the classic theme of a single man of probity carrying the day. But the strengths of the first “3:10 To Yuma” were enhanced by its proportionality—an intimate story told in 92 minutes. The story is no bigger in the new version, which goes on for 117 minutes. And it’s certainly not better


Recent Posts

Elmore is Buried Today on His Birthday

Elmore Leonard Forever

Elmore Leonard Podcasts

The Enduring Appeal Of Elmore Leonard and Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens

The Gregg Sutter Blog

Japanese FU-GO Balloon Bombs in Michigan

The Pontiac Story of Progress & Promise

Tom Morwatts on Growing Up in Detroit

Detroit Punks: Mitch Ryder

Amazon 2015 Pilots Now Online – Including Point of Honor

Even Bank Robbers Decide What Tie To Wear: The Essence Of Elmore Leonard

On Twitter

Una commedia americana: Balzac...intended to compose a mosaic of...French society of his time, illustrating...even……
Una commedia americana (An American Comedy) by Giulio Segato…
Why is Elmore not smiling in this photo? Find out on the Elmore Leonard in Hollywood Tour - THIS SATURDAY. Still……
It was a great gig. Everybody was there. CELEBRATE! The Elmore Leonard Bus Tour Only five tickets left. It’s go……
Still a few tickets left. Hurry or you’ll have to ride on top! Get on the Bus! The Elmore Leonard in Hollywood……
Elmore and Felicia Farr in 1957. She was in Detroit on a press tour for 3:10 to Yuma. Get on the Bus! The Elmore……
Esotouric Tour’s Richard Schave's interview with Gregg Sutter about Elmore Leonard and The Elmore Leonard in Hollyw……
Find out why Elmore disowned this film, supposedly based on Fifty Two Pickup.
All of Elmore’s Film and TV DVD and VHS covers. Hear stories about most of them on the Elmore Leonard in Hollywood……
A little context clue about the The Big Bounce, which Elmore described as “The worst movie ever made.” Endings……
NBC News Has Ambitious Streaming Plans For Election Night…
Splice, SoundCloud Partner to Promote Emerging Creators…
Neil LaBute’s ‘Out of The Blue’ Rounds Out Cast With Chase Sui Wonders, WestEnd Films Boards Sales – AFM (EXCLUSIVE)…
Asif Kapadia, Clare Stewart Take Reins at Sheffield Doc/Fest…
Three crew members who had worked alongside the “Rust” assistant director have given details about his behavior on……
‘Happy Valley’ to End After Third and Final Season, AMC Joins for North America…
Ji.hlava Documentary Festival Chief on Ramping Up Competition Section, Shifting Focus to Artisans…
Meet the cast of Season 14 of #RHOA
HBO Max Europe Launch: Service Debuts Aggressive Half Price Offer in Nordics, Spain…
Kate Bosworth, Thomas Kretschmann Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Sentinel’ Wraps Production, AFM Bound…