I just watched 3:10 to Yuma again: the Russell Crowe version.
I’ll use this post to say a couple of things about it but I got one that’s gotta come now:
Russell Crowe’s outlaw, “Ben Wade,” tells a story of having been sat in a waiting room by his mother, given a Bible, told to read it. He says he read it, cover to cover, in three days. !!! (He also says she never came back for him.)
The reading claim is worse than the brag I heard in high school when some honor role moron claimed to have read War and Peace in three hours!
When I read War and Peace, in the early 1960s (already knowing Anna Karenina), I read it almost constantly, on duty in the army, lying on my bunk over a weekend. I didn’t measure the time but it took at least a year, or two: lots of such weekends, and many another day.
After a month or so it was already like Hamlet: I knew those characters better than I knew my own family, or my best friend.
The Bible. The Bible! Jeez, throughout my childhood I read the Bible, had much of the most Protestantly-famous passages near photographically memorized. What could I have gotten in three days? The little kid that Ben Wade was then, was he comfortable with Chaldean names? places? Would his reading have impressed my college Bible teacher, Mark Van Doren, with its acuity?
Absurd. Acting is like politics, you have to be able to mouth lies, fictions, absurdities with a straight face.
Generally though I liked this movie, both times around. This time I was specifically watching Ben Foster’s performance of Charlie Prince, Ben Wade’s chief lieutenant.
I’ll praise the craft, also mock other absurdities: Hollywood doesn’t expect its work to be scrutinized by an anarchist hostile to kleptocratic mythology.
PS, on speed reading: Lionel Trilling once told us students that he understood that most of us were going to be professionals, doctors, lawyers, that we might never get to read the Odyssey or The Magic Mountain or The Golden Bough more than six or seven times. I made a face. (I didn’t finish The Golden Bough for the first time until thirty years later! when I was reading the Odyssey for only the second time (maybe the third). My buddy whispered scathingly to me, “Trilling only reads every sixth line, what he’s calling six readings is really only one!”
2012 11 29 Don’t get me wrong: I love this movie, I love lots of movies (and I loved Lionel Trilling!) I love lots of westerns: I still love High Noon, which Yuma so blatantly imitates, I didn’t begin to also despise High Noon till I had seen it several times, was in my twenties … By that time I’d been despising westerns as a genre for at least a decade.
I love many of the attributes of this movie: foremost Russell Crowe, second-most Ben Foster …
The honest rancher and his family, the Christian Bale character, his sniffy universally-disapproving wife, his moon-struck son … make me, ill; by they’re not characters, they’re archetypes. Yeah, Grace Kelly could have played the Gretchen Mol role, she already had the broomstick up her ass.
I just read the Elmore Leonard [2013 08 21 RIP] short story, first time. It was OK, had little little in common beyond the title, maybe the name, the “Charlie Prince” of Ben Foster’s character … I repeat: I loved the Ben Wade character, hell, of course I did, it’s Russell Crowe! And I loved his gang: the gang and Charlie Prince are the best part of the movie, those guys worked together like the parts of a Porsche engine: the leader, the lieutenant, the sniper rifle guy with his Indian hair in his eyes, other rough looking guys, the US should use that team when it wants to assassinate more Muslims.
The writers, utterly independent of the original story, have Ben Wade tell the rancher’s worshipful son that he’s bad, that he has to be bad, because his crew is bad, rotten, filth: the bad can only be supervised by badness.
Well, the actors were damn well-coordinated in this movie: was the director bad, the producer, the film crew?
Yes, making such film propaganda twaddle.
Nowhere is the movie worse than in the line where Christian Bale tells Russell Crowe that he may not make a good living, but it’s honest.
Wait a minute: in the wake of the Civil War! where Lincoln’s Republicans declared total war on seceding states, drafting their own union states’ citizens to commit the atrocities, burning, killing: women and children, livestock … then turn that same moral-less military might on the plains “Indians”: more murder and mayhem, so that white parasites can profit on the stolen land … Now they’re in Nevada, stealing from Apaches …
This is an “honest” living?
No wonder the kid worships Ben Wade, a relatively forthright killer and thief.
Well, it’s a lot more honest actually than that lived by the descendants, in Hollywood, pretending that all these things were heroic Christian acts: performed by missionaries: from Salem!