I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘Elmore Leonard’

High Noon Part II: The Return of Will Kane

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

tn_highnoonpartiiThis is gonna sound crazy, but HIGH NOON PART II: THE RETURN OF WILL KANE, a 1980 TV movie with Lee Majors replacing Gary Cooper as the hero from the 1952 classic, is a damn good sequel in my opinion. It’s directed by Jerry Jameson, who IMDb says was an uncredited director on that Burt Reynolds movie I like, HEAT. I don’t know what the story is on that, but he definitely did AIRPORT ’77 and a bunch of TV shows ranging from The Mod Squad to Walker: Texas Ranger.

So it’s some TV guy directing. More significant in my opinion is that the teleplay was written by Elmore Leonard, and it shows. It has his knack for interesting language and casual conversation, humor in the face of danger, bonding between lawmen and outlaws, and a sort of rambling turn of events that reflects something about the ridiculousness of life. In the original HIGH NOON the freshly-retired marshal got into trouble because his arch-nemesis had been released and was coming into town for revenge. In this one the trouble starts because he and the Missus (Katherine Cannon, THE HIDDEN) are trying to buy some horses.

It’s a year after he shot Frank Miller and left, and he comes back to Hadleyville for this transaction. At the same time Ben Irons (David Carradine) and his men just got off a train, probly the same one the bad guys came in on last time. We know they’re trouble because a deputy recognized Irons’s face and went to check out the wanted posters. They show up wanting to buy the same horses that Kane just paid for, and they try to convince him to let them have them. It’s a tense conversation because Irons tries to act friendly, but Kane lets him know he remembers him from his days in law enforcement.

“Must’ve been during my wayward youth,” Irons says.

“It was a couple of years ago,” Kane says. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

So long, Justified

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

tn_justifiedThere are many great shows that have transcended or elevated the television artform, that have been compared favorably to cinema or to great novels. Some of them I’ve seen, some I’ll catch up with some day. But Justified was my kind of show. It was full of badass bravado, dry humor, a love of language and personality. Like the Elmore Leonard books that inspired it it was accessible and unpretentious, but also smart and original. I like to think it could be enjoyed by snooty book lovers as much as by people who liked Walker, Texas Ranger.

I came to it as an enjoyer of Leonard. I remember hearing there was gonna be another show based on one of his characters, starring Timothy Olyphant, and I was curious to check it out in case it might be decent. Then I happened to see an extended preview, a clip of the scene from the pilot where Raylan meets Dewey Crowe and bangs his head against a steering wheel. And I thought oh shit, this actually looks seriously good. I’m gonna have to make an effort to actually watch a TV show from the beginning. And come to think of it I watched the entire series as it aired each week, that’s pretty rare for me.

Leonard has not had a good track record on television. I don’t mean in quality of adaptation, but in survival. There was that show of Maximum Bob with Beau Bridges. It got good reviews and was cancelled before I ever caught an episode. Years later there was Karen Sisco. I thought, now how do you make a TV version of a character that was so perfectly portrayed by Jennifer Lopez in the best Elmore Leonard adaptation ever? And then Carla Gugino came and changed my idea of who that character is. And that one I did manage to watch most of the episodes but again, cancelled before the season even finished. And neither show has ever been released on the home video.

So it’s surprising and great that not only was Justified so good, but it had the chance to last for six seasons, continue to grow in popularity, and go out on a high note. And on purpose – I’m sure FX would’ve let them make two or three or four more seasons if they’d wanted to. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

R.I.P. Elmore Leonard

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

elmoreleonard
UPDATED

Well, Elmore Leonard passed away yesterday. Not too far from 90 and he was still writing books. Not bad. Others have paid tribute to his unique talents, and around here if I tried to do that I think it would be preaching to the converted. Or preaching to the preachers. But I want to say a few words about a couple aspects of his work that mean the most to me personally.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Killshot

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

tn_killshotDo you ever notice the movie posters where it shows the faces of all the leads but then the names above their heads don’t match? You see that and you understand that it was some legal thing, they were required to list them in that order by contract, there’s alot of politics involved. But then you wonder why they don’t plan for that reality ahead of time and make a composition with that in mind. I know it can be done. And KILLSHOT, the long-delayed-then-poorly-received-then-put-off-seeing-by-me-until-now Elmore Leonard adaptation from the director of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, does something rarer. It introduces the characters in the actual movie in credits order so the actor’s names can appear over them on screen. I was really impressed by that extra effort. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Freaky Deaky

Monday, March 11th, 2013

tn_freakydeakyI guess different people are free to interpret Elmore Leonard different ways, but to me he writes serious stories that are funny. As far as this movie is concerned he writes comedies. I guess that’s the GET SHORTY approach as opposed to the OUT OF SIGHT/JACKIE BROWN/Justified one. Too bad this isn’t as good as GET SHORTY.

It’s been years since I read the book, but I think this is fairly faithful. In my memory Skip (Christian Slater) is one of the main characters, which is not really the case here (despite the terrible cover making him way bigger than everybody else). But the basic storyline I think is intact and the movie’s biggest strength is lots of funny dialogue, largely from the book I believe. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

The Badass Cinema Rundown for October 21st, 2011

Friday, October 21st, 2011

tn_karensiscoI hope everybody, or most people, or a couple people are enjoying all the horror reviews this month. I’m happy that I’ve found time to watch a healthy amount of them, plus throw in the occasional TREE OF LIFE or LAWRENCE OF ARABIA when it comes up. But of course the Badass Arts are never far from my mind, so once again I’ve compiled some links and comments on various news from the past couple weeks related to some of my favorite ass-kicking authors and actors, etc. This one includes theatrical releases, DTV, TV, one book, and ballet. Well, all except the last one. Sorry Telf. But I think there’s alot of things to be excited about here. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

tn_310-07The remake of 3:10 TO YUMA is a pretty good modern western, but it dilutes the simple power of the original by overcomplicating it. Delmer Daves and friends took this very short story mostly about two men in a hotel room (don’t take that the wrong way please) and expanded it to movie length, but I thought they made it work beautifully. Now they take that expanded version of the simple idea and they go expand on that. Give the hero more of a backstory, involve his son in the action, have the outlaw escape and get captured by other people, etc. The only thing they simplify is the number of guys in Ben Wade (Russell Crowe)’s gang, so you lose that menacing scene of them all lined up at the bar with one defenseless woman pouring them all shots.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

3:10 to Yuma (1957)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

tn_310-57(Note: I will be reviewing both 3:10s to Yumas in two separate posts)

It’s been a couple years that I wanted to see that Bale vs. Crowe version of 3:10 TO YUMA, but I told myself I had to see the original first. And the truth was I wasn’t that excited to see the original. I’m not that well schooled on the pre-spaghetti westerns and I didn’t know anybody that swore by this one. So it took me 3 or 4 years to get around to it.

Glad I did, though, because director Delmer Daves’s black and white take on the Elmore Leonard short story is a real gem. A small, valuable gem, not a big gaudy one like a rapper would wear. It’s just putting great characters in a tense situation and seeing what kind of conversations and relationships develop.
(read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Pronto

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

tn_prontoI always enjoy Elmore Leonard, and I got no excuse for why I haven’t read his book Pronto . But I did just check out Jim McBride’s Showtime TV movie version of this book that introduced Raylan Givens, the cowboy-hat-wearing U.S. marshal that Tim Olyphant plays on the show ‘Justified.’ It’s a very different take on the character and feels very TV-movie, but I thought it was an enjoyable one with a funny, laid back Leonard feel. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Justified is still good

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

tn_justifiedWell, you guys know I’m not much of a TV watcher, but I have managed to keep up with JUSTIFIED, the FX show starring Timothy Olyphant as badass deputy marshall Raylan Givens, a character who originated in Elmore Leonard’s Pronto (although it’s credited to the later short story “Fire In the Hole,” since that’s what the pilot was adapted from).

This week we finally got to meet Raylan’s much referred to pops, who was a bastard as promised but luckily in a small-timer way. Some of the previous references to him made it sound like he was some international super-crook, but in this one he’s mostly an old man who smashes things with a bat. I was hoping somebody recognizable like Robert Forster or somebody would turn out to be the dad, like a surprise casting coup type deal. Instead it’s Raymond J. Barry, who is perfect. What they went for is much better than what I wished for. It’s a great character and great relationship.

My favorite episode so far was last week, though. Raylan went to L.A. after a mob accountant turned dentist played by Cameron from FERRIS BUELLER (looking alot like Anthony Bourdain these days). That was a great Elmore Leonard feel because they get you rooting for this dentist in the opening scene when he removes gold fillings from a rich asshole in the parking lot for yelling at his secretary.

Anyway, I want to point you to this article posted on elmoreleonard.com which reveals that Leonard likes the show so much he’s working on ideas to give them for season 2. Also, the comments here is a good place to discuss new episodes if you ever feel like it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.