The fortunes of the Western rise with the tide of American cinema. During the 70’s indie renaissance we got rugged classics like The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid and The Long Riders, then in the 80’s and 90’s Clint Eastwood re-examined his own mythic West in Pale Rider and Unforgiven . (The less said about Young Guns 1 and 2 the better.)
The past 12 months have offered us two Westerns that are as good as any of the last 30 years: The Assassination of Jesse James and James Mangold’s homage to the classic 3:10 to Yuma which opened in Wellington last week.
Yuma is a story (by Elmore Leonard) with great bones: poor, honest, rancher Christian Bale is suffering because of the drought and for $200 takes on the desperate task of escorting captured outlaw Russell Crowe to Contention City, where he will catch the eponymous train to the gallows.
But Crowe’s gang are on the way to liberate him and Bale’s support is dwindling to nothing. The tension rises as the clock ticks towards three o’clock.