310 to Yuma

Elmore Leonard has died at the age of 87, leaving us with millions of already well-worn copies of novels and short story collections. He was a raw talent with a knack for delivering stark, bloody drama that worked strongly both on the page and on the screen.

If you don’t already have the physical copies on your shelf, there are more than a few options (some of them free) for streaming Leonard’s adaptations online.

3:10 to Yuma (1957 and 2007)

One of two westerns from Leonard that came out that year (the other being The Tall T), it helped solidify him as a go-to for tough guys and became a kind of icon in its own right. It tells the story of a struggling farmer who joins a posse attempting to take the brutal, captured outlaw Ben Wade to the closest town with a railway station. The goal is to turn him over to the authorities on their way to the court in Yuma, but once Wade’s gang finds out about their plan, all hell breaks loose.

“Three-Ten to Yuma” was also adapted by director James Mangold fifty years after the first film (and you can see it online, too) with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe facing off.

Available on Amazon Streaming

The Big Bounce (1969)

A heist, a femme fatale and a wary Ryan O’Neal. This was the follow-up for Paper Lion director Alex March (he only directed three films) and it utilizes O’Neal to terrific effect, launching his career in the process.

Gritty and desperate, it blends a con game with the depressing question of what we’re driven to do when we run out of options. It was also adapted again in 2004 with Owen Wilson, Charlie Sheen and Morgan Freeman, but the less said about that one the better.

Available on Amazon Streaming

Mr. Majestyk (1974)

Charles Bronson and Elmore Leonard! So good. One of the rare original screenplays from Leonard (he later wrote a novelization of the movie), it’s an echo of “Yuma” where Bronson plays a, no kidding, melon farmer who is threatened by local mobsters. Instead of backing down, he stands up for his workers, earns the violent ire of the gang, and then Bronsons everyone. No surprise that he’s a Vietnam veteran. Also no surprise that this makes an excellent double feature with Straw Dogs.

Available on Amazon Streaming

Stick (1985)

By now it should be clear that the standard keys to a Leonard movie are 1) deals that go wrong or 2) rural citizens being harassed by heavies. Starring Burt Reynolds and Candice Bergen, this one features the former.

Released from prison, Stick tries to stay straight, but that never works out does it? Past enemies and debts plague him even as he strikes up some romance.

This is another flick where Leonard wrote both the novel and the screenplay, and while it’s not the best action thriller going, it’s still a bit of aggressive fun that reiterates the lesson that if you’re a bad guy with a daughter, she’s gonna get kidnapped by a rival.

Available on Amazon Streaming

Get Shorty (1995)

The birth of a modern resurgence of interest in his work, this crime comedy went meta by having John Travolta play a made man named Chili Palmer who discovers in Hollywood that making movies pretty much requires the same skill set that he’s got. Travolta is solid in it, but Danny DeVito makes the movie as a cranky actor.

It led to another installment, Be Cool, being adapted from Leonard’s novel sequel in 2005 (which you can also see online) where Chili invades the music business.

Available on Amazon Streaming

Jackie Brown (1997)

Based off of “Rum Punch,” the best movie of Quentin Tarantino’s 90s career follows a brilliantly-casted Pam Grier as a flight attendant who moves money for a gun runner. When she’s detained by the ATF and LAPD, she’s given a choice between informing on Samuel L. Jackson (the gun runner who Bronsons anyone who double-crosses him) or doing time for smuggling. Fortunately for the narrative, she chooses to save herself.

Available on Amazon Streaming

Gold Coast (1997)

Hidden both because of Jackie Brown and because it was a TV movie, this adaptation was directed by RoboCop. Hopefully that’s all you need to know, but if it isn’t, the story focuses on a tangled web created by a jealous, amoral millionaire who dies and leaves his fortune in a trust to his wife with some very specific instructions.

Available on Netflix

Freaky Deaky (2012)

Maybe not the best Leonard adaptation, this 70s set flick is the story of two bomb-building radicals who want to become capitalist pigs. For what it’s worth, it’s got a character named Juicy Mouth.

Available on Netflix

Plus, there are probably a lot of ways to watch Justified online, too.

dashes

Elmore Leonard


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