Saturday, September 15, 2007

3:10 TO YUMA

I didn't expect to get to the theater to see this remake, but when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it. It was great to see a western on the big screen again. The scenery's spectacular, and the acting's fine. Russell Crowe makes the bad man dangerously attractive, and Ben Foster is the definitive psycho sidekick. Christian Bale's their equal as the rancher who's determined to get Wade to the train on time.

But there are problems with the movie, mainly a bunch of lame, dumb stuff that I can't explain without revealing way too much. So if you haven't seen the movie, HEED THIS WARNING AND READ NO FARTHER.

Okay, for those of you who are still with me, here are some of the things I couldn't quite accept. Peter Fonda plays a bounty hunter who's shot by the bad guys. And let me tell you, there are a lot of bad guys. I don't know how many there are in Crowe's gang, but if they were part of the surge in Iraq, we'd win in a week. But I, as usual, digress. Fonda is shot. He's dragged for a long way on a couple of boards, then put on a horse and taken to town. He has a hole the size of a dinner plate in his stomach, and a veterinarian digs a bullet out of it. Ten minutes later, Fonda's on his feet, not even bleeding, and ready to ride out with the men guarding Crowe. Now that's one tough bounty hunter.

Bale, or Dan the Rancher, has a wooden leg. He clumps around a little in the early going, but at the end of the movie he's running like an Olympic sprinter. And not just on the ground. He's running on the roofs of buildings and jumping across the spaces between them like Jackie Chan.

Then there's the shortcut through Apache country. The guys taking Wade to the train have to take it, or so Dan says, so they do. The bad guys don't, and they get to town maybe an hour after Dan's bunch. Now that's what I call a lousy shortcut.

And the ending. Somebody's going to have to explain the ending to me. I don't get it at all. I just sat there thinking, "Huh?" I've seen a lot of movies, and I know there's only one way to get the bad guy to the station when you have evildoers all along the streets and on the rooftops. You put the little sawed-off up under his chin as tight as you can, and then you sidle outside where you inform the baddies that they can kill you, all right, but if they do, your last act will be to pull the trigger of that shotgun. Then you go on to the train, and you get on with the guy you're sending to Yuma prison. You don't shove him on board and then stand there like a doofus. But even if you do that, there's still no explaining the ending, not unless there was a lot more going on in those conversations between Bale and Crowe than I was getting.

I had fun at the movie. I enjoyed it. But I think they departed from Elmore Leonard's story by a few thousand miles. The story can't possibly have all that dumb stuff in it.

10 comments:

  1. I had a lot of these problems plus a few more. But I still loved it. I especially liked the shifting alliances, the acting, the father winning over the son.
    Here's what bothered me:
    When the Apaches are after them, why do they stand in front of a fire where they are easy targets? Why does Ben Wade;s main psycho-boy kill all his help? Why doesn't the guy from the railroad offer the townsfolk $400 to guard RC till the train arrives?
    How the hell do they get to that train without getting shot?
    Why does Ben Wade go along with it?
    Don't know why I liked it but I did. But the holes threatend to gobble it up.

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  2. I liked it, too, in spite of all the problems.

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  3. Jeff Meyerson5:49 PM

    It doesn't. I just read the story a few weeks ago and none of that crap was in it, including the (why?) wooden leg.

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  4. lotta coke on a movie set. oh, wait a minute. you say peter fonda was in it? i take back that coke remark.

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  5. Fred Blosser8:46 AM

    I haven't seen the movie, but I'm tired of the cliche where the father has to do something to redeem himself in the eyes of a sullen child.

    Movie heroics have gotten increasingly implausible at least since the advent of James Bond. In the old days, Raymond Chandler and Howard Hawks knew that it was no easy task for Philip Marlowe/Bogie to extricate himself from an ambush by one skilled hitman with a .38. Now the hero eats the .38 for a snack and leaps a tall building in a single bound as well.

    Note of heresy: the ending of the original Elmore Leonard story turns on (to my mind) some rather implausible action. Stalked by the outlaw's six henchmen on the walk to the train, the hero is caught in the open when his attention is distracted by the main henchman Charlie, and the outlaw (last name Kidd in the story) suddenly falls/jumps out of the way.

    Hero empties his shotgun into the main henchman, then drops the shotgun to draw his six-shooter and pinks another gang member. He retrieves the outlaw and hustles him to the train. All of the henchmen have cover to shoot from, so in reality, they could and should have trapped him in a crossfire once Kidd was in the clear. Leonard carries it off with good terse writing, but it still doesn't withstand a close look.

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  6. Maybe the moral of all this is that we shouldn't look too closely.

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  7. that's certainly sound advice when it comes to a current photo of joey heatherton.

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  8. September 10, 2007 (from ElmoreLeonard.com, these are interview segments--which for reasons that are obvious--which were not used in the Electronic Press Kit))

    What Did Elmore Think of 3:10 to Yuma?

    Q: After watching this film, was there anything that particularly stood out; the landscape, the action, the themes?

    EL: Well I think it’s a very good looking picture; the way people were dressed and the landscape, I did object to the boy who says “you don’t know shit”, which to me is a very current expression. He wouldn’t have used that term back [then]. And also when Charlie Prince says “listen up,” [trying to get the townspeople’s attention] because “listen up” was not used until World War 2. And the stuff about the Apache Indians attacking at night. [They never attacked at night] They believed if they were killed at night then their spirits would wander around in darkness eternally.

    Q: And there were other key differences from the 1957 version. What did you think about these changes?

    EL: I thought it was cluttered in certain places with characters and people. I wondered why at the end, [Russell Crowe] shot all of his guys. You know and he says, well I have been to Yuma before and escaped both times, which reminded me of the end of “Out of Sight” when [Samuel Jackson] gets into the same van with [Clooney], [and] we find out [he] is an escape artist. He escaped from nine different federal prisons, which then puts Clooney in a position where he can smile and then the audience says “good, he’ll escape.” You know, [a] happy ending.

    Q: And you felt the changes in this one…

    EL: I didn’t understand why [Russell Crowe] shot his own men. Because he was all for them before. Why [did] he have the change of heart? I don’t think Bale was effective in what he was doing. You could feel sorry for him but why? Because every time Bale said “well I have this problem I have that problem,” [Crowe] never sympathized with him ever….and then he shoots his own guys.

    Q: Right. What did you think of the performances with Russell Crowe as Ben Wade?

    EL: Oh I thought he was great. Yeah, I thought all the acting was fine -

    Q: And how about Christian Bale?

    EL: Christian Bale was good, but it was a tough part. It was a very tough part. I did not understand why the son, in the very beginning was so down on him? I don’t think a fourteen year old boy would be that knowing to criticize his dad.

    Q: What was it like in your initial meetings with James Mangold?

    EL: I haven’t met him. I like “Walked the Line” a lot.

    Q: There is some historical detail added to this film, like the building of the railroad. What did you think about these details that were added to the film?

    EL: Well, I didn’t get that.

    Q: Is there something about James Mangold that you admire about him being a director now and making a Western film?

    EL: Well I wonder why he wanted to remake this one? That would be my first question. He should have remade one that didn’t work.

    Q: Well thank you. Is there anything else that you want to share about “3:10 to Yuma?”

    EL: Well I think it’s a good picture and I hope it’s very successful.


    http://www.elmoreleonard.com/index.php?/weblog/what_did_elmore_think_of_310_to_yuma/

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  9. Thanks for the info and the link!

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