Category Archives: 3:10 to yuma

RIP Elmore Leonard

We have lost another living legend, this time a god among writers, award-winning novelist Elmore Leonard has passed away. He’s written over fifty novels, a handful of short stories and screenplays. Movies and television shows have been made for dozens of his works.

Among his writings are some of the subtle masterpieces of our time, including Rum Punch (filmed as Jackie Brown), Gold Coast, The Big Bounce, Get Shorty, Be Cool, the short story 3:10 to Yuma (filmed twice), Out of Sight, 52 Pick-Up, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, Riding the Rap, and more than a few novels that inspire the TV series “Justified.”

When I think of the written western or crime fiction I think of Leonard as the master. When I was in college, and stubbornly insisting I wanted to be a writer, a professor told me, “If you want to write fiction, read Elmore Leonard,” suggesting it was education by example.

I can’t get it together to say much more. We have lost one of the greats. Click here and I’ll share his ten rules of writing, quite possibly the best writing advice ever given. Elmore Leonard was one of the masters, and there’ll never be another like him.

The Original 3:10 to Yuma

I haven’t seen the new remake of 3:10 to Yuma with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe yet, even though folks I trust have told me it’s a very good flick.

I think part of the reason I haven’t yet seen it is that I can’t get it into my head why it had to be remade. And even more irritating is that when I expressed this question on my LiveJournal, I was hit by a comment that people don’t think older films are worth watching. I’m still dumbstruck by this notion. Wow.

Either way, I was delighted to catch the original Glenn Ford and Van Heflin version of 3:10 to Yuma on OnDemand last night. It’s been some time since I last seen and it was still as great as I remember. In glorious black and white. Ahem.

Glenn Ford plays bad guy Ben Wade as an almost likable villain, but not in a let’s-root-for-the-guy way but more in a charismatic way. But still, this is 1957 and the line between the white hats and the black hats is a thick and decisive one. just as we know how human he is, we also know how evil he is. It’s a dance I wish more modern movies would take. After all, who were the stars of the first four Batman movies of the last decades? Batman or the baddies? There should be a line, dammit.

Van Heflin walks the other side as farmer Dan Evans, a reluctant farmer hero forced into the position to oppose Ben Wade. Wade is captured and a waiting game ensues as a race between his men coming to save him and an oncoming train to prison tick the clock away. Dan must come to terms with what should be done and what he wants to do as Wade tempts him with much-needed money to let him go.

The Elmore Leonard story is more psychological drama than straight western even though all the necessary elements are there. As I said I see little reason for this to be remade as it’s an almost perfect film as it stands. Did it need to be in color? Did there need to be more bloodshed? I don’t get it, but suppose will find out when I see the new one.

In the meantime, if you get a chance to see this one, please do. Great story, and probably some of the better performances by Ford and Heflin – a winner all around in my book. See it.