Wednesday, September 12, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

No spoiler alert necessary since I’m not revealing anything you won’t learn from the trailer.

Westerns are always fun. And they’re proof that you can make good action movies without cool cars. If you like the genre, you should enjoy 3:10 TO YUMA provided you can get past the one rather large conceit that everyone moves heaven and earth to bring this outlaw to justice and don’t seem to mind that about a hundred other people get killed senselessly along the way. It would be wrong to just shoot the son of a bitch, but killing other folks in service of this story is fine and dandy. But like I said, get past that and you’re golden.

And it’s the same question you ask in any James Bond movie. Instead of putting him in some elaborate water tank with sharks and piranha and pollution from the East River, why doesn’t Ernst Blowfeld or Dr. No just take out a gun and blow his brains out? And after the third time he escapes from the death ray device, the contracting chamber with walls of spikes, and the giant custom-built Cuisinart you’d think the Super Villains (who we’re told are the most brilliant minds in the world) would get the idea that perhaps a pistol and one bullet might just do the trick. But I digress…

Russell Crowe was the whole movie. You rarely see a vicious outlaw who is insouciant. Christian Bale was the young James Brolin, very serviceable in the thankless good guy role. Everyone else played stereotypes. The marshal and his deputies said, “shucks,” “if he’s out there we’re gonna git him”, and “don’t know where you come from mister but in this town we uphold the law”. And the gang members were all Bruce Dern (pictured right). Ben Foster, (Crowe’s second-in-command) wanted to add depth to his character so along with Dern he added a touch of Dennis Hopper.

For my money the Bruce Dern deranged cowboy is the easiest character any actor can play. You just scrunch up your face, look crazed, adopt a bad Western accent and say in your most craven breathless voice: “Can I touch her titties now, pa? Can I? Can I? Can I?”

The sets and scenery seemed realistic, although how would anyone who’s alive today know? (Wait. Keith Richards might know.) They only said “Fuck” five or six times, not 54,892,843 like a typical hour of DEADWOOD so I worry that the dialog wasn’t authentic.

But the conditions seemed realistic enough that I thought, if I lived back during those times I don’t think I’d care to make my home in the Old West. There seemed to be, at least for me, a discernible. lack of creature comforts. I understand that if you live in Arizona in 1870 it’s going to be hot and there’s no air conditioning but God forbid one of these cowboys wore shorts? Or built an overhang so that in one three-foot patch in the entire state there was shade?

So all the while I’m watching this movie I’m thinking, “these settlers couldn’t travel three more days and end up in LA?” There were beaches back then, nice weather, and the neighborhoods were much safer. If anyone acted up they had Zorro. But I digress again…

Bottom line, if you like horse operas you’ll like this movie. And the other good news is that 3:10 TO YUMA isn’t its running time.

19 comments:

estiv said...

Christian Bale was the young James Brolin.

Poor Josh Brolin--this means he's out of a job.

And as usual, Ken, I think I'd rather read your review than actually watch the film. Which, now that I think about it, is not the case when I read most bona fide movie reviews. Maybe if more of them were also comedy writers, they'd write more interesting stuff.

Whaledawg said...

“these settlers couldn’t travel three more days and end up in LA?” There were beaches back then, nice weather, and the neighborhoods were much safer.

Not true. LA was still desert then, they hadn't gotten around to stealing the water yet.

A. Buck Short said...

If there’s one thing I just can’t stomach, it’s an overabundance of souciance in the western genre. (Look, if a writer’s blog doesn’t attract the pathologically linguitropic, then who?)

I need to apologize in advance. No, I don’t feel the need to comment on every one of your entertaining posts, Ken. But do you have any idea how impossible it would be to try to segue any of the following material into a conversation in THIS house? So here goes nothin’.

I don’t remember where or when I saw the original “3:10 to Yuma,” but I do remember maybe 35 years ago staying on Glen Ford’s family estate in Port Neuf, on the St. Lawrence not far from Quebec. It’s a long story. But the only way you could get to the place was to park the car and then take sort of a swaying rope footbridge to an island in the middle of a river, where the house was located. It was totally peaceful, sylvan and bucolic, except for the slight but constant din of the multimillion dollar Ford paper mill located about 40 yards away, not far from where you’d park. The logjam in the river should have been a dead giveaway.

The only other thing I remember is that, for some reason, as a gag, the mill that week was turning out rolls of toilet paper, each sheet presenting the image of currency. I forget if it was ours or theirs. Those droll Canadians.

I won’t be able to see the Crowe version without thinking of your take on Arizona. Hey, the state flower’s a rock.

eChuckler said...

I guess this is as good as a place to make confession as any... For a few weeks, whenever I saw the words "3:10 to Yuma", I read it as a fraction and wondered, seriously wondered, why it would be called "3 tenths" or "3 out of ten to Yuma". Then I realized that it was "Three Ten," like you were reading a clock.

This is why fractions should never, ever be learned in school.

la guy said...

"You rarely see a vicious outlaw who is insouciant"

I was just saying that very thing to my wife the other day. (Damn you for making me visit Dictionary.com!)

Your mention of Bruce Dern and westerns reminded me of "Support Your Local Sherrif". It's got a really great cast and surprisingly funny screenplay. Bruce Dern, of course, plays the bad guy and James Garner stars as a insouciant Sheriff with Joan Hackett as his spunky love interest.

Check it out if you haven't seen it.

spoonbear said...

Ben Foster dressed and acted like he was in Bob Fosse's "The Revenge of Brokeback Mountain." But that's just me.

howie said...

I loved the original and think I'd probably be disappointed in this one just due to my own prejudice toward the old.

I'll wait for the DVD or cable.

I'll second LA Guy (or is that French, la Guy?) on Support Your Local Sheriff. It's great fun and showing up fairly regularly on Encore Westerns.

TheDennisMorganShow said...

Made the mistake of reading your ‘3:10 to Yuma’ post, then watching the original 3:10 oater on the Encore-Westerns channel. Perhaps it was the microwave Marie Calendar mystery meal I ate before bedtime, but the combo of all three delivered a mighty nightmare: There I was, in earshot range of Keith Richards, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. It was the seventh inning stretch and I was standing behind the trio at a Mariner’s - Diamondback interleague game in 1870. "The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," said Richards. “I was really disappointed when you fell off the top ten list of most likely to die in 1869", replied Van Heflin.

No more frozen Marie Calendar’s for me (but they were ‘Buy 10 get 20 Free’ at Safeway)...

Geoduck said...

Just had ditto what whaledawg said. Southern California was a desert, and when the water runs out, it'll turn back into a desert. Move now and beat the rush.

capcom said...

Very funny review! I really enjoyed this movie. It harkened back to the dusty old dry gulch spaghetti genre. But I thought that Bale's character had more chops (for reasons that I'll refrain from elaborating due to spoilers) than Crowe's though. And at first I wondered why Wade would be so paunchy for a stage robber, but maybe with all his money he gets to eat pretty well.

Agreed, Foster's Western couture was to die for!

Anonymous said...

Is "insouciant" your goodluck word?

D. McEwan said...

Since I rather intensely dislike westerns, there's no danger of my seeing this movie, but I wanted to comment on your Arizona/Los Angeles comment. My dad was stationed in Flagstaff, Arizona for a year during WWII. (Did the Nazis invade Flagstaff? No. You can thank my late father.)

Thanks to the living hell of Flagstaff, my dad moved to Los Angeles when he got out of the army, and vowed NEVER to live anywhere else, so it's thanks to the misery of Flagstaff that I am a native Angelino.

So all you would-be L.A. historians, you're saying Zorro had no water? Because Los Angeles is over 200 years old, and the folks living here, enjoying the much-nicer-than-Arizona climate in 1870 were drinking SOMETHING! Yes, we had to buy more water when the population hit the millions, but it was still a nicer place to live than Arizona then as now.

Anonymous said...

Since I rather intensely dislike westerns, there's no danger of my seeing this movie...

A friend who shares your attitude told me how much she loved "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

"But," I sputtered, "That movie's more 'western' than some westerns."

"But this one's different," she countered. "It's a girl western."

I suggested she find a copy of "The Quick and the Dead," which is a girl (Sharon Stone) western directed by Sam Raimi.

Thirds on "Support Your Local Sheriff." An all-time classic. Walter Brennan's terrific, too.

Fabiola Thing said...

Sorry--Off topic--Ken, have you seen this?

http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1651341_1659188,00.html

Anonymous said...

I saw the new 3:10 movie. Not the original.
In the new movie, there is a warning, if they take the shortcut, they'll go into dangerous Indian territory. Despite seeing two unfortunate souls staked to die, they have no hostile Indian trouble and only run into a railroad building crew.
My question. In the original, was there a hostile Indian skirmish?
Thanks.
WK

howie said...

There was no Indian altercation in the original, as I recall.

capcom said...

So who then were the Indians that they were fighting on the rocks with, that Wade saved them from?

Mark P said...

I thought it was a terrific movie. Any film based on an Elmore Leonard piece that actually stays close to the spirit of Leonard's story and uses the dialogue is a guaranteed success.

Christian Bale is one of the more underrated actors today. He might be the new Crowe in terms of versatility.

Jenny said...

I cant understand at the end,Why Ben Wade
shooting and killed all his gang with a gun
which just they gave to him!!And why later get into the train for Yuma.He wanted to judge and to be hanged!!