310 to Yuma (1957)

These Are the Brown Ones

I am particularly fond of movies that I can see through other facets: remakes, derivatives, spoofs and so on.

This one is particularly rich. The remake is quite modern, a story about making a story. The Crowe character (the bad guy) imparts a story on the good guy, that only he can give as a storyweaver and that is more valuable than life. The notion of the western as a story-in-life allows this to work. I thought it a bit blunt to actually engage. It was more a story about storytelling than one that affected me. But it was well within what we expect from the cowboy/gangster genre.

That mattered in its way. I had seen the earlier edition years ago and had assumed it was a weighty in intent.

Wow, was my memory clouded. I think when this was new, it was considered part of a genre-twisting trend that subverted the western by introducing what was considered “psychological” elements. Those seem completely faded today, but they were enough to get John Wayne in a snit.

This is far, far closer to Wayne’s notion than to the modern remake. The only element I liked better was the rendezvous with the prostitute. In the remake, the guy was simply bad and a risktaker, sort of an urban youth ignorance of consequence. In this original, the guy knew what he was doing and was just so hungry for sex he took that risk. The dialog in this section must have been written by someone else. Its good.

He talks about a particular whorehouse he remembers fondly as if all his stealing was simply for those good times. He mentions how he would do anything for a woman with blue eyes. She tells him (we can’t see, but he plainly should have) that hers are brown. He changes his tune to accommodate. They go in the back and return later sated. As he is arrested, she holds the door for him.

That there is a complex situation, rather deftly delivered. It’s an island of intelligence in an otherwise damaged project.

Posted in 2008

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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