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The Bounty Hunters
The Law at Randado
Escape from Five Shadows
Last Stand at Saber River
The Big Bounce
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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
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Three Ten to Yuma
The Big Hunt
Long Night
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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

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Way Back West
30 June 2006 Friday 3:15:41 PM GMT
BYLINE: Angel Gurria-Quintana

by Elmore LeonardWeidenfeld & Nicolson 16.99, 528 pages

Now 80 years old, Elmore Leonard is a strong candidate for the title of most prolific living American writer. Today he is best known, however, for a handful of fast-paced crime novels made into films, including Get Shorty (and its sequel, Be Cool), Rum Punch (turned into the Pam Grier vehicle Jackie Brown) and Out of Sight.

Yet his association with Hollywood goes back a long way. Classic western movies such as 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre and Valdez is Coming were based on his early stories and novels.

Hardly surprising, then, to find that, as he embarked on his writing career, Leonard was inspired by the cowboys-and-Indians flicks of the 1930s and 1940s. “I looked for a genre where I could learn how to write and be selling at the same time”, he remembers in the introduction to The Complete Western Stories. “I chose Westerns because I liked Western movies. From the time I was a kid I liked them.”

He began by submitting stories to pulp periodicals such as Zane Grey’s Western Magazine and Western Story Magazine. The going rate was two cents per word. His first published story, “Trail of the Apache”, appeared in Argosy magazine in 1951 and became a template for the pieces he would publish throughout the 1950s. Reading these stories, the reader is struck not only by the young Leonard’s talent for recreating the southwest frontier’s scorching atmosphere, but also by his skill for constructing plot and conveying character with unusual economy of means.

The setting is Arizona and New Mexico in the 1870s and 1880s - windswept and sun-scorched plains of sand-rock and alkali dust dotted with mesquite clumps. It is Apache territory, strewn with Indian agencies and frontier posts, inhabited by reluctant army officers and taciturn scouts. And Indians - Mescaleros, White Mountain Apaches, Chiricahuas, Sinsontes.

Leonard’s prototypical hero is neither the idealistic officer straight out of West Point nor the wronged and hostile Indian, but the grizzled scout, a white man who knows not only the Indians’ language but their wily ways and cunning survival techniques. “Mister, you watch the rocks, the trees, the men around you,” says Eric Travisin, an experienced campaigner to an eager new arrival in “Trail of the Apache”. “You watch until your eyes ache, and then you keep on watching. Because you’ll always have that feeling that the minute you let down, you’re done for. And if you don’t have that feeling, you’re in the wrong business.”

The introduction to this compilation sums up the formula that Leonard was zestfully feeling towards in the fifties: “Take the most dangerous Apache, the wisest scout, and the greediest outlaw, put them all together in the desert sun, and see who wins.”

One has only to read The Hot Kid, his latest Prohibition-era novel, to see that - with some tweaking to allow for different settings and time periods - it is a formula that continues to serve Leonard well half a century later.