Words and Numbers

3:10 To Yuma

Several years ago (more than several, actually) I had the notion of watching the old-time Westerns that are considered classics. I went through several of them--The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and maybe a couple of others. I was somewhat disappointed, especially as I loved Western stuff when I was a kid, and didn't go any further. 

The other day something reminded me of another film that's usually ranked with those others, 3:10 To Yuma, from 1957. I found it on the Criterion Channel, which I have not used very much and am wondering whether I should cancel, and watched it, in two roughly 45-minute sessions.

I really liked it, and it's definitely my favorite of its type at this point. It's a good story, pretty convincing for the most part in spite of the conventions of the time. It's about a rancher who ends up, more or less against his will, solely responsible for getting a captured outlaw on that 3:10 train, with the outlaw's gang trying to stop him. Glenn Ford, atypically, plays the outlaw, and is very effective--genial and charming with just a hint of menace. 

But what I really love about it is the photography. It's very crisp black-and-white, and full of the Western scenery that I love. The story is set in southern Arizona, and I think it may have been shot there, or perhaps in some part of southern California where the landscape is similar. You can get a sense of the quality in this Criterion Collection trailer:

The song, by the way, has nothing at all to do with the plot, except for the title reference. 

The movie is based on an Elmore Leonard story by the same name. Being an admirer of Leonard, I was curious about the original story, and found it at the local library in a collection called The Tonto Woman and Other Western Stories. I suppose I have to say that I was disappointed in the story. It's pretty slight, its action including only roughly the last half of the movie. It's a case where you could argue that the movie is better than the story, though I don't really trust my judgment there, since I encountered the movie first. Some of the other stories in the collection are really good, though. And they have a sort of potato-chip, can't-eat-just-one appeal. I think I've read half of them now, and I only got the book a couple of days ago, with no intention of reading more than the one story.

There's a 2007 remake of the movie which apparently got pretty good reviews. I may watch it sometime. My interest was dampened a bit by a clip which I saw on YouTube, thinking it was just sort of a trailer, which gave away the very different ending.

Many years ago in college I had a Southern Lit teacher who had a very old-style  genteel southern accent, and who once, when whispering and giggling broke out in class, said to the culprits "I fail to see the humor." Only in his accent it came out as "I fail to see the Yuma."  It's unfortunate for me that I still remember that after almost fifty years.


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I should add to my comment on Meghan 'n' Harry that I realize it may be totally unfair.


The actor who plays Prince Philip looks just like Harry.

I think it was Claire Fox, being interviewed by Brendan O'Neill who said that you have to hand it to the Queen - 93 years old and she ensured a hard Mexit! The demands H&M made (using the royal name on merchandise) were really disgraceful, and the Queen did right to see them off. Im very sorry for Harry, who used to be a good egg before he went into therapy. Yes, its a good thing they bailed.


It is a sad set of events. Everyone now believes Diana's neurotic story, that Charles and Camilla used her as a foil, intending from the beginning to continue their affair - 'there were three people in this marriage from the start.' I have always accepted Auberon Waugh's guess, that Charles and Camilla made the mistake of thinking they could break it off and not see each other again - which was a mistake because it never works. Its a cynical guess, but to my mind more likely than the Dianified version. Charles has always insisted that he returned to Camilla only after the marriage had broken down, and that seems plausible. I've never read a royal biography, so maybe there is evidence against this, but I don't know why everyone accepts Diana's version without question. But of course a very sad set of events - he was much too old for her, and had been around the world too many times.


I watched the last episode of the fifth season of Line of Duty last night. Very good, but the complicated wrap-up ending I found pretty confusing, largely because it brought up stuff that went back to earlier seasons that I couldn't remember. :)

Speaking of Dianafication, Caitlin Flanagan has a good piece in the The Atlantic about that and Megxit.


I only had time to read about half of the Flanagan piece, but it's really good. Will read the rest later.

Rob G

"largely because it brought up stuff that went back to earlier seasons that I couldn't remember"

Yeah, there were a couple scenes I watched twice for that same reason -- it took me a little time to make the connections. I remembered all the faces but not the names. But that's one of the things I love about the show -- its complexity. It's similar to True Detective in that way.

Watched 'Knives Out' last night -- lots of fun. Daniel Craig is great, doing his best Shelby Foote impersonation. I found it weird thinking that he's also 007.


Knives Out was so good!

I’m guessing I’m going to have to cancel our movie club though it was about eight members not 10. But one member is pregnant and another is her husband and I don’t think we should do this. We were going to watch the movie Rob recommended - Tel Aviv is on Fire.

I’m definitely going to watch line of duty.

Rob G

I was expecting Knives Out to be more of a parody/comedy, but I enjoyed it very much nevertheless. I understand that people liked Daniel Craig's detective character so much that they're considering doing a "franchise" with him. If the new Bond film is his last, he could move right into a "Benoit Blanc" series without missing a beat.

I've got 'Ford vs. Ferrari' lined up for tonight. I've had several people tell me it's a very good movie even for people who aren't gearheads. And I'm a big fan of Christian Bale's anyways.


I loved F vs F And as you can well imagine I know nothing about cars

Rob G

Didn't get to watch F vs. F last night as planned, but I did happen to see that Richard Jewell is out on DVD now. That's the one about the guy who reported the Atlanta Olympic bombing then turned into a suspect. It got good reviews when it was first released earlier in the year.


I enjoyed Jewell. It has a bit of a self pitying conservative narrative but overall I thought it was about a seven out of 10 kind of film.

I watched episode one season one of line of duty and it looks like this is going to be a dark one


I'm pretty sure I would enjoy F vs F. Jewell doesn't sound that interesting to me, good reviews notwithstanding.

Rob G

Did you happen to see the trailer for it? I thought it looked pretty interesting based on that.


I saw the storm around Christmas time and enjoyed it a lot but it does have a bit of a conservative victim narrative.

Rob G

Don't know The Storm. Motherless Brooklyn is also out on DVD now. I liked that one pretty well.

Rob G

Watched 'Ford v. Ferrari' and 'Richard Jewell' over the weekend. Both very good.

It's weird thinking of Clint Eastwood being almost 90 and still directing movies. It's a little odd thinking that each movie he makes could very well be his last.


I enjoyed both of those movies a lot. I will be sad when Clint dies

I’m watching line of Duty season one and the Crown. I’m watching the alternate nights so nothing gets too dark.

Rob G

I thought Christian Bale was really good in F v. F. He's one of those actors who can do just about anything, it seems.

My lifetime experience with cinema pretty much tracks exactly with Clint's career. The first movie that I ever saw that had a lasting effect on me was A Fistful of Dollars (late 60's) and I basically grew up with his movies thereafter.


I think Eastwood's movies are all worth watching. He is such a good director. Even when the subject matter does not seem immediately interesting to me, as is the case with Richard Jewell, or another recent one that I enjoyed, Jersey Boys.

Rob G

We've talked about what we're watching while we're stuck at home -- is anyone reading anything interesting?


I have a couple of posts coming up about two things I've recently read. I'll hold off saying what, so that any discussion can be on those posts.

Rob G

sounds good!


Meanwhile, feel free to discuss recent reads here. I’m taking care of grandchildren out of school bc of the virus , so probably won’t be able to post for the next couple of days.


On the advice of a grad student, Im listening to The Plague on my audio books. When I told my lodger, he said everyone is listening to the Plague on their audiobooks.

Im reading Serontonin by Michel Houillebecq. Its not as good as his previous book, Submission.

Next I have on my reading table A Conservative Sensibility by George Will.


Edith Stein: The Life of a Philosopher and Carmelite, by Teresia Renata Posselt. This was our book club book. I thought it was very good. You get a very good idea of what she was like, and her spirituality.


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