The Remake Question, episode two

Today I’m considering the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, a somewhat obscure 1950s western. The plot is so simple but brilliant it’s pretty much begging to be given the contemporary treatment. But will that process result in a great product? I think it’s possible. If the purity of story is infused with the intensity of a film such as The Proposition (what’s that you say? haven’t seen The Proposition? rent it now!!), it could work very well.

The original: released July 1957, written by Halsted Welles from the story by Elmore Leonard, directed by Delmar Daves.

This is a solid western that stars the remarkably twitchy Van Helfin and the unusually suave Glenn Ford. I believe, with a twist of fate here or there, Ford could still be as much a household name as Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant, but is probably best known to contemporary viewers for playing Jonathan Kent in the 1978 version of Superman…though I sincerely hope some people have seen him in at least the amazing The Big Heat. Anyway…this is a movie about two men in a desperate situation testing each other until it becomes inevitable that one will break. Helfin is Dan Evans, a rancher on the verge of financial ruin because of a severe drought. Ford is Ben Wade, an outlaw who’s been caught after he and his gang robbed a stagecoach and killed the driver, and the stagecoach company owner will pay $200 to any man who will transport him to town and put him on the 3:10 train to the prison in Yuma the next day. Evans needs that money, but Wade’s gang isn’t likely to make his job easy, and Wade is a master of manipulation who drives Evans to his limit well before the train pulls into the station. This is a solid entry in the tradition of tales taking place in a land just a bit beyond reach of the law, where citizens must act for themselves.

10m2.jpgThe remake: will be released on September 7, re-written by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas, directed by James Mangold.

The trailer for this movie has me excited. It gives the impression of expanding on the original’s vision of the west, but takes several lines directly from it, which is good because the dialogue is quite sharp in the original. The director’s last movie was the great Walk the Line, and the cast is solid. Russell Crowe is capable of great things when he doesn’t veer into overacting, Christian Bale is almost always fantastic, and I also expect to be impressed by Ben Foster (who was grotesquely underused as Angel in X-Men: The Last Stand). I just hope it doesn’t make Crowe’s outlaw into a 100% “bad guy.” The best part of the original was the depth of that character, and the theme of men from different circumstances finding themselves understanding each other in revealing and frightening ways. That’s much more interesting to me than black hats vs. white hats.

Next time: The Heartbreak Kid.


2 Responses to “The Remake Question, episode two”

  1. 1 Matt McCoy August 25, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    Bale is the best. Crowe just has to keep the minimalist thing going. Looks like a winner. You seen the previews for No Country for Old Men? Any thoughts? I’m stoked.


  2. 2 patty August 31, 2007 at 1:03 am

    could you please address why christian bale hasn’t even been nominated for an academy award?

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