Monday, September 17, 2007

an apology, and some blokes with guns

I knew the title of the new Russell Crowe/Christian Bale Western 3:10 to Yuma rang a bell, so when it came up in conversation the other day I confidently asserted that it was a remake of an earlier film, though I couldn't remember who was in it.

I now accept that while I was technically correct and there was an earlier film version, the reason I'd heard the title before was that the source material for the film is a short story by Elmore Leonard, written way back in the 1950s when he was mainly turning out stuff in the Western genre, before switching to what he's most famous for, i.e. brilliantly sly and twisted crime thrillers. I plugged Leonard during a brief discussion in the comments for the Carl Hiaasen book I read a while back, but it bears repeating in a proper blog post, I think. Read Glitz, Bandits, Freaky Deaky, Killshot or Maximum Bob; better still, all of them.

The royalties will be rolling in at the moment (not that I expect he needs them) as apparently there is a film of what I think is his best book, Killshot, in production at the moment, and one of the similarly excellent Freaky Deaky as well.

Leonard books are popular source material for films for fairly obvious reasons, not least that he writes dialogue so brilliantly that you can just dump great paragraphs of it into the script verbatim - recent ones have included Barry Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty - not one of the best books, and a film you'll only like if you don't find John Travolta unbearably smug and irritating - Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (based on the book Rum Punch) and Steven Soderbergh's Out Of Sight, which is probably the best Leonard adaptation of all, and features a brilliant central performance from Jennifer Lopez which makes some of her subsequent career moves (music, films, marriages) all the more mystifying. And she never returns my calls, the moody bitch.

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