Based on the 1957 Glenn Ford / Van Heflin original as much as it is on the Elmore Leonard short story, 3:10 to Yuma sees Russell Crowe and Christian Bale go head-to-head, struggling rancher Bale trying to get charming bad egg Crowe onto the train that’ll take him to Yuma and a scaffold. A dirty, sweaty, hairy western, this offers a fine psychological battle leavened by good old-fashioned shoot-em-’ups, with Ben Foster and Peter Fonda among the supporting cast, the former Crowe’s psychotic gay lieutenant, the latter a grizzled Pinkerton agent with a somewhat less than spotlessly clean conscience. The tension is built up nicely by director James Mangold as the various clocks tick towards 3:10, a la High Noon, but the overall impact is a little spoiled by the last ten minutes, when Crowe’s previously impeccable ruthless streak gets a miraculous overhaul for no apparent reason. Still, if you’re into the whole horse opera revival, this one is up there on a par with Open Range. **** Michael McGowan
“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.