Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elmore Leonard Earned His Spurs Writing Westerns

Elmore Leonard was praised and remembered as a writer of westerns by Joe Leyden at Cowboys & Indians.

Although he’s best known these days for his quirky crime fiction, author Elmore Leonard — who passed away Tuesday in Detroit at age 87 — began his writing career as a prolific author of western novels and short stories.

“Most of my early stuff was for the pulps,” he told Cowboys & Indians in a 2007 interview. “All throughout the ‘50s, when they were hot. I wrote 3:10 to Yuma in 1953, when I was 27. I got $90 for it -– two cents a word for a 4,500-word story in Dime Western magazine.
“And let me tell you: In the ‘50s, that wasn’t too bad.”

Justified, the popular FX Network series based on stories and novels by Leonard, often has been referred to as a modern-day western. Executive producers Graham Yost and Michael Dinner — long-time admirers of Leonard’s work — take that description as both a welcome compliment and a fair appraisal.

“If you consider that Elmore started out in westerns — and then, as he puts it, when his stories weren’t selling as much, he moved onto more straightforward crime fiction in the early ‘70s — it’s only natural that our show would have a western flavor,” Yost says. Adds Dinner: “In a way, you’ve got a weird melding of crime thriller and character piece with the feel of a western. It’s not just about the hat on [Raylan Givens, the US marshal played by Timothy Olyphant]. It’s about the rhythms of the piece, and the tone of the piece.”

Leonard’s novels and stories also have served as source material for several more traditional western features and TV movies. Back in 2007, however, he expressed profoundly mixed feelings about director James Mangold’s adaptation of 3:10 to Yuma — starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale — which had previously been filmed in 1957. (“I sure wonder why Christian Bale gets kicked around so much,” he quipped after a preview screening. “I don’t know why he wanted to do the film.”).

To read more about Elmore Leonard's westerns you can go to the lnk below:

Note: It seems to me that the divide between westerns and crime is not that wide.

Elmore Leonard's 3:10 to Yuma, like most westerns, is about lawmen and outlaws. The only difference between most westerns and crime fiction is the western backdrop.  

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