Thursday, September 11, 2008

Get on the train!

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a triple dose of the western genre with 3:10 to Yuma.

While on vacation this summer with my brother and his family, the car DVD player ran through the newest incarnation (starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale) twice but I was too carsick to watch it. The movie sounded exciting though so I quickly moved it to the top of my Netflix cue in order to finally get a look at it. I loved this movie for a variety of reasons. The scenery was beautiful; the characters were stark and so-very western; the soundtrack spot on for what I thought a modern western should sound like. Crowe’s Ben Wade was creepily malevolent throughout, though I thought Bale’s portrayal of down-on-his-luck rancher Dan Evans was a bit overblown. Spectacular stagecoach crashes, wild and bloody shootouts, and hell-bent-for-leather horsework combined for what I thought was a rollicking good time!

I love that moment at the end of a movie when I catch those two little words that are frequently flying by at the speed of light, “Based on,” and I saw at the end of this film that it was based on an Elmore Leonard short story of the same name that was originally published in Dime Western Magazine in 1953. After reading up on the film and short story, I also learned that the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale film was a remake of the original 1957 film adaptation of the same name. I quickly located the both the short story and the 1957 original and settled in to compare all three.
The short story opens with Marshall Paul Scallen arriving at a side entrance to the Republic Hotel in the city of Contention with his prisoner, the infamous outlaw Jim Kidd. Mr. Butterfield from the film is Mr. Timpey in the short story and he meets Marshall Scallen at the door and shows them to Room 207 of the Republic Hotel. From this point on, the 1957 film follows the dialogue of the short story more closely than the recent film but the trip the marshall and outlaw take to the station has definitely been lengthened and dramatized more in the current film. The ending of the story, which I won’t share since some of you may not have seen or read any version of the story yet, is again more closely followed by the 1957 film and abandoned all together in the current version. Suffice it to say that Jim Kidd/Ben Wade is on the 3:10 to Yuma, but you’ll have to check out all three versions to see how he gets there.

It was fun reading AND fun watching to compare these two film interpretations and the original shortstory so I believe I'll be doing something like this again. I have my sights set next on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The film is due out December 25, 2008 (starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette) and the shortstory is by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Happy Reading!

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