'3:10 to Yuma' and 'Jubal' get the Criterion treatment
"3:10 to Yuma" (Criterion)
Delmer Daves was a Hollywood pro with a long career and an impressive filmography. He established himself as a screenwriter with a series of light comedies and romantic melodramas (including the original 1939 "Love Affair") before stepping behind the camera with the World War II adventure "Destination Tokyo." Like most directors of his era, he moved easily between all genres – war pictures, romances, melodrama, and a few noir-inflected dramas (notably "The Red House" and "Dark Passage"), but he proved his affinity for the western from his very first effort in the genre, the 1950 classic "Broken Arrow." Along with his fine eye for imagery, Daves brought a psychological dimension and an adult sensibility to his westerns. In his best films, his characters had relationships and emotions that came out of real life.
Criterion's stamp on two of his most interesting westerns may help bring a little more attention to the director. "Jubal" (Criterion) is the first of three westerns Daves made with actor Glenn Ford, already a seasoned western presence by 1956. Here he's an itinerate cowhand and a wary loner hired by rancher Ernest Borgnine, a garrulous, generous guy who becomes both father figure and best friend to the emotionally bottled up cowhand. It's been called "Othello" on the range, with Rod Steiger as the bitter ranch hand playing Iago to Borgnine's Othello, but the Desdemona of this piece is no innocent victim but a dark, exotic beauty (she's Canadian, apparently to explain away Valerie French's accent) in a stifling marriage to the sincere but crude and boisterous cattleman. Young and deeply disenchanted, she sets her eyes on the simple, stoic cowboy.
This is less a Shakespeare western than a Hollywood melodrama in chaps and Daves was a seasoned hand at both genres. He favors suspense to action and violence, tightening the tension until Steiger (himself spurned by French) finally pushes his boss over the edge and the cycle of violence begins. Even then, the violence is brief and abrupt and Daves leaves the most brutal assault offscreen. Noah Beery Jr. and John Dierkes offer easy-going support as Ford's friendly bunkmates and fellow cowhands and Charles Bronson takes a small but key role as a plain-speaking cowhand whose loyalty to Ford's Jubal is unshakable even when Steiger turns the town against him. Daves brings out Bronson's easy-going humor and understated style, a side so rarely tapped by other directors.
The new-school Kirk and Spock talk ...
Since 2009's "Star Trek," the actors playing the film's central duo have had no small amount of success in its wake; Chris Pine will step into the shoes of Baldwin, Ford and Affleck with the upcoming "Jack Ryan," while Zachary Quinto produced and appeared in the Oscar-nominated "Margin Call." "Star Trek Into Darkness" sees the two back as Kirk and Spock, with more than a few changes this time; we spoke to Pine and Quinto in London about the film.
MSN Movies: The reason why people love "Star Trek" isn't just the plots or the pitch of the series; it's the relationships between the characters. How much fun is it to play the classic Kirk-Spock relationship and live up to it, in a way?
Zachary Quinto: Very fun. And it's a great pleasure to do it with somebody that I enjoy working with, hanging out with, spending time with. And I think our off-screen relationship informs the dynamic of the characters we play. And that's great fun.
Chris Pine: Yeah. These characters are fun because they come from such completely different kind of worldviews. And I think that people can relate to it, or it resonates through people, because they see that, I think, like in their own lives, whether it's themselves trying to find a balance between the mind and the body or with people in their lives. But certainly what they find in the beginning to be the differences that drive them apart are actually those things that drive them together in the end.
A great thing about the first film and this film is that Kirk gets beaten up a lot more than he dishes out. Is that a key to the character -- that you'll always get up no matter how inadvisable it is?
Pine: Yeah, I think you're exactly right. I think it's fun to see, just like with McClane in the "Die Hard" series. It's always fun to see the underdog kind of in the face of great obstacle and great hardship get up again and again and again. And I think that that is a sign of a good leader.
Speaking of action, Mr. Quinto, you get a heck of a fight scene in this, and part of that you do that the "Terminator 2"/Tom Cruise action elbow-run. Is stuff like that fun to do even on the day?
Why all the fuss over a movie nobody wants?
Will play the film's villain
Without characters, 'all the big action battles, chases, fight scenes, all that stuff would never have any meaning ...'
Having given himself a hard act to follow with 2009's "Star Trek" -- and having a hypothetical future of the same now that he's signed on board to bring "Star Wars" back to the big screen -- director J.J. Abrams is a man whose present is all about the future. We spoke with him in London about working with Gene Roddenberry's creations, what he had to do this time around and if he has any worlds left to conquer ...
MSN Movies: You had the first film, which was a critical and commercial success. You know you're doing a second film. When did you think to yourself, "I need to do this, and I want to do that"? What were your needs and wants for this movie?
J.J. Abrams: I've got to say that the key for this film was, I think, we needed to approach it like a standalone film. I thought that it was critical that we not rely on people having seen the original series or the film we made before. This wants to be its own thing. In terms of what I want to do is I wanted to make it bigger, and better, and more emotional, and more exciting, more action. And the key to it being I think a better movie is that you go deeper with the characters, that they make you laugh, that they make you feel that their debates are personal and specific. Otherwise all the big action battles, chases, fight scenes, all that stuff would never have any meaning.
There are plenty of '60s science fiction TV shows like "Land of the Giants" or "Time Tunnel" that we're not still watching 50 years later, primarily because Star Trek has those great character relationships. Is it fun to know that's the underpinning of everything, not the explosions and 3D?
Yes. The key to this movie working is, no question, the characters. And while we are incredibly lucky to have an extraordinary cast playing these roles, I do agree with you that it really is the characters, the sort of archetypes, the dynamic that Roddenberry created that really gives this thing its heart and soul. So we really honor the thing that the original fans loved about the show that I later came to appreciate. But at the same time we wanted to infuse it with a kind of visceral energy and say those characters you love, having those debates, dealing with those sort of moral philosophical dilemmas, they are sort of thrust into an adventure that is a little bit more speedy, a little bit more action adventure, a little bit more intense. And that to me was sort of the balance that every day we're struggling to achieve.
An action film is often only as good as its nemesis. How great was it to cast Benedict Cumberbatch with those eyes and that demeanor and that voice?
Romantic comedy stars Domhall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams
'I want to bring a little bit of femininity to "Star Trek" ...'
One of the new introductions to the film franchise's canon along Benedict Cumberbatch, Alice Eve is looking thoroughly modern -- and only a little futuristic -- as she talks about her role in J.J. Abrams' second feature boldly going where many have gone before, "Star Trek Into Darkness." The London-born actress spoke with MSN in London about future fashion, the scale of IMAX and about breaking up the boys' club on the bridge of the Enterprise.
MSN Movies: What's it like to step into this fully realized world that's newly recreated by J.J. Abrams? Did you feel like you had to get up to speed a little bit?
Alice Eve: One hundred percent, and (I had to) keep up. J.J. moves at warp speed, so keeping up with him is not easy.
The other great thing about these films is their sort of retro-futuristic look that hearkens back to the original series but speaks of a future of space-faring adventure. Did you find that getting into that, with bob haircut and the high-tech retro outfit ... is that part of the fun of doing the film?
Well observed! You know J.J. and I had conversations about what hair I would do and whether people in space have hair, whether they wash their hair, whether their hair was like, you know, you take a pill and it stays exactly how you want it to be. So what we decided was that we'd throw in the Vidal Sassoon like '60s bob, which goes from short to long, and we shaved the back of my head. Then we kind of went with the fact that Carol would have hair that moved.
So you didn't want to have it lacquered up like you're in a little space helmet?
Yeah, I didn't want a helmet.
Saying "I like Star Trek" these days is kind of as broad as saying, "I like wine." There's the different shows and different films. What flavor of Star Trek prior to this was your favorite?
I think the Bordeaux of Star Trek is definitely J.J.'s 2009 movie.