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February 15, 2008 |

By Ted Boynton | Boozehound Cinephile | February 15, 2008 |

Pop culture item consumed: A double feature of (1) the 2007 re-make of 3:10 to Yuma, starring two of my favorite actors, Russell “I’m Such a Dickhead” Crowe and Christian Bale, not to mention Alan Tudyk (!) as ol’ Doc Potter; and (2) my all-time favorite Western, Angel and the Badman, starring John Wayne as … um, John Wayne, and Gail Russell as The Hot Quaker (yowza!).

Beverage consumed: Old Potrero Rye Whiskey and Labatt’s Blue. Old Potrero is a recent noble effort to re-claim a nearly-lost art - no one really drinks much rye whiskey anymore, as its bitterness makes single malt scotch taste like something out of a Werther’s commercial. When drinking rye whiskey, you drink it neat. When you drink neat rye whiskey, you keep a fire extinguisher and Jaws of Life handy. Also, have a sweet-tasting gold lager nearby to chase it. Not kidding, folks, rye whiskey is serious fucking fun for serious fucking drinkers; if you fancy yourself a whiskey aficionado, you need to get in on the rye.

Summary of action: Mrs. Socalled shares my ludicrous vocational choice, which means she sometimes has to work weekends. This is when I catch up on the various cultural trinkets that make her eyes roll back in her head - “So the Summer Glau person is a Terminator? That’s just wonderful, Nerdboy. [/snickers] Gimlet! Fetch!” - and Westerns are right up there. On this particular Saturday, I decided to watch two Westerns while drinking what cowboys drank, straight rye whiskey with no ice. Because I’m not quite prepared to just lay down and die, I also had some ice cold beer close by. Labatt’s Blue is ideal for this undertaking: light (without being all lite-beery), smooth, almost sweet, and very, very forgiving of demanding, inconsiderate sexual partners - in this case the rye. You can also drink a coffin-full of Labatt’s without getting too hammered, which is critical in a chaser. The last time I used Guinness as a chaser, I woke up in Tahiti with two transvestites and a half-melted American Express card with only part of my name still legible - the part that allowed them to track me down. (Transvestites can’t really get pregnant, can they? Fucking gold diggers.)

I decided to go with 3:10 to Yuma first, since (a) I’m far more familiar with Angel and can basically recite it in my sleep and (b) I expected that I might have to do that. In honor of the first film, I started watching at 3:10 p.m. At 3:20 p.m., I hucked the remote at the television because of all the gaddam previews. Eventually, as Dan Evans’ barn burned, during the night, when he should have been just nailing Gretchen Mol, I took my first drink of the day: a neat shot of rye whiskey, with a juice glass of Labatt’s behind. Wowwwwwww, cough-cough, hurts so good. God bless you, Old Potrero of San Francisco. The rye is simply on another planet, but the Labatt’s was my best decision of the day so far.

I hadn’t had rye in a long time, and how can I put this? Drinking rye whiskey, even good rye, is like that riot girrrrl in college who frightened you from afar, turned out to be supercool at some party, outdrank you over the course of several hours, then roped and throwed and branded you like a three-legged calf back in your dorm room. (I still have a vestigial hickey and a slight limp from my riot girrrlll.) Unlike tequila, where the girl is a stripper who calls you “daddy” the whole time, rye-girl wants to remain acquainted. She might want to strip the skin off your trouser trout again in a couple of months; hell, she might want to take a shot at your dad, and you might want to let her. She’s really quite marvelous … just a bit frightening.

What about those films? Well, I have a good recollection of both, as I paced myself through the first one, while the second one is imprinted on my DNA. 3:10 to Yuma is a beautifully shot film; it’s clear that James Mangold loves movies, especially Westerns, and took pains to make it feel like you were riding through a dry canyon with Russell Crowe in the 1870s. Christian Bale was amazing, greasy-haired and gaunt, a desperate rancher coasting on his last penny. In fact, it was almost distracting how well he played the role - I kept thinking to myself, Jesus, Christian Bale is actually oozing desperation, epitomizing, distilling, capturing, selling, and being desperation. This is generally a fantastic film, though the last twenty minutes were a bit of a let-down for me. The Russell Crowe character so departed from the land of reality that no suspension of disbelief short of braining myself with a Colt revolver would suffice. It crippled the script and severely limited the film’s ultimate punch, proving like so many films and television shows before it that it’s incredibly difficult to come up with a great ending for a great work of cinema.

Or, maybe it just seemed illogical to me after six shots of rye and six Labatt’s chasers (2-and-one-half bottles of beer), at which point I could no longer feel my face. 3:10 to Yuma is a full two hours, and I was ostensibly limiting myself to no more than three shots and three chasers per hour, but I lost count somewhere around the time Luke Wilson (Luke fucking Wilson!) showed up as a yellow-toothed prospector. Yikes. There are numerous moments in this film that will feel a little fucked up if you’re a little fucked up - Claire’s boyfriend from “Six Feet Under” (the bi- one, not the toesucker) roasts a deputy alive in a stagecoach, so that’s fucked up. Alan Tudyk brains a guy with a shovel, only to get cruelly taken from us yet again, which is super-fucked-up and cruel to boot; that was a misty-eyed, hard-swallow moment, as I relived a certain sequence from Serenity. Bwuh.

Okay, I’m a leaf on the wind. After a pause to drink a quart of water and replenish my supply of Labatt’s, I moved on to Angel and the Badman. I assume 90% of the whippersnappers ‘round these parts have not seen this film. John Wayne, in black-and-white, Red River-era glory, plays Quirt Evans, a young gunslinger tiptoeing along the line of law and order. Quirt steals from robbers to support his drinking and whoring but begins to change his ways after running across a Quaker family that cares for him after he’s wounded in a confrontation with some other outlaws. Gail Russell plays the Quaker farmer’s daughter who nurses Quirt back to health and teaches him about gentle devotion, quiet humility, and Jesus through her own love and shining selflessness. Man, do I want to make the monkey sex with Quaker-McHottiepants. Anyway, John Wayne predictably has to decide between the exciting but short life of an outlaw and the more pastoral prospect of a farmer’s life, which may be more boring but will ensure that he can give Gail Russell the proper hosing down she so desperately needs every night.

It’s hard to describe how breathtaking Gail Russell is in this role - the black and white only makes her more supernaturally beautiful, along the lines of a young Elizabeth Taylor, but with Donna Reed’s rack. It may have been the rye, but at one point, I’m pretty sure Gail Russell broke the fourth wall, looked at me, and said, “Ted, you’re only hurting yourself. Put down that rye, come be a farmer, and we’ll have, like, fifty Quaker kids from all of our Jesus-loving monkey sex.” Could have been the rye talking.

How well the pairing held up: I can’t compliment Old Potrero enough on the quality of this rye, and if you can tolerate whiskey, there’s no other way to watch a Western. Whiskey, beer, and Westerns; the only way this Saturday night could have been any better is if I weren’t completely and utterly obliterated by 7:00 p.m. when the missus rolled in from work, sober as a judge. “Where’s my dinner?” Honey, I’m pretty sure that posse ate it, but at least they cleaned up after their horses.

Tastes like: Three parts dusty boot leather, three parts Christian Bale’s somber introspection, two parts Russell Crowe’s balled fists, and two parts Ben Foster’s non-hammy malevolence. Delicious.

Overall rating: 12 out of 13 stars, including eight marshal’s badges.

A Game-Legged Old Man and a Drunk. That's All You Got?

3:10 to Yuma / Angel and the Badman: The Boozehound Cinephile / Ted Boynton

Boozehound Cinephile | February 15, 2008 |

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