Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Taking Elmore Leonard to the Movies

A while ago I wrote about growing up reading Elmore Leonard and his great Western stories. One of the best was 3:10 to Yuma, which has recently hit the headlines following an early September release as a movie starring Christian Bale, Russell Crowe and Peter Fonda. Leonard wrote the story in 1953 and got paid $90.00 for it. Two cents a word, in Dime Western Magazine. It was first made into a movie in 1957 with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, but I’m told the new version is even better. I’ve tried to see it a couple of times but have missed out because of other priorities. Still, it’s top of my “must see” list. Russell Crowe is a great guy for relaunching genres. Look what he did for swords and sandals with Gladiator, for the ocean in Master and Commander, and it sounds like he’s doing it again, this time for the Western. The original version was beautifully shot but the new version is much deeper and broader. Like most great Westerns, 3:10 to Yuma is a classic morality tale with pioneers faced with high integrity decisions that set the pattern for others to follow. The West was a dangerous place where people were constantly being tested (not too different from today’s marketing arena). If you have the chance, go see it and let me know what you think. Russell Crowe is a favorite and Peter Fonda usually brings a vibrant kind of eccentricity to the screen.

I’m writing this from Dallas, Texas, and have been trying to think of other Elmore Leonard stories that have been turned into movies. Hombre with Paul Newman was outstanding, as was Joe Kidd with Clint Eastwood wonderfully playing Clint Eastwood as only he can do. I think the one I enjoyed most is Valdez Is Coming, which could be Burt Lancaster’s finest hour. Anyway, I’m sitting here in the Wild West room at the ZaZa and things couldn’t be more perfect.


susan plunkett said...

And Russell, with Peter Holmes a Court, is relaunching the Rabbitohs - and oh so well to date :)

Those high integrity decisions take me back, again, to issues of rational vs emotion. We love those moments in books because we are indeed tested. We blink with awareness (at times), of new facets of personal knowledge - or at least awakenings.

There is sensual pleasure in the intellect Kevin and that's a simple point I think your content to date misses. Again, I see no rivalry between the two domains; just a happy dance (or perhaps its a Morris dance :)

Josephine said...

Hey there Mr KR,

I have always liked westerns too, one of my favs has always been High Noon with Gary Cooper, a crisis of concience I believe it was billed as by the producer at the time. I really liked the fact that Lloyd Bridges was in the movie too, I learnt that he'd had a tough time at one point in Hollywood and didn't work for 7 years...pretty tough.
I also like the Trinity movies and of course anything with Sergio Leonie.
I noticed that you also mentioned Paul Newman-I haven't seen the movie you noted but I did see him in The Sting-great movie and also I liked the other movies because they were about doing the right thing-not westerns I know but i think great films-one was called Carbon Copy and the other was called Trading Places, both great movies with some great lessons. I think the lovely thing about movies like this is that they often get deep down to one simple point-our actions-all our actions have far reaching consequences and some things we can happily live with, some things are worth fighting for and other things are worth dieing for.

Thanks for letting me post