3:10 to Yuma (1957)
“Lots of things happen where all you can do is stand by and watch.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Along the way, we’re asked to question — primarily through the character of Heflin’s spitfire teenage son, who’s eminently scornful of his “wimpy” dad:
— what it means to “be a man” and stand up for one’s self. Heflin is appropriately complex and troubled in the lead role:
… but it’s Glenn Ford’s turn as Ben Wade which most impresses — his intense performance never misses a beat.
Unfortunately, 3:10‘s ending takes an unexpected turn which beggars belief and goes far beyond reasonable expectations — but it’s difficult to fault the script (based on an Elmore Leonard short story) too harshly, given the fine ride until then.
Note: 3:10 has achieved renewed interest given the compelling 2007 remake by James Mangold, starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Interestingly, the new film — fine in nearly every respect — sports an equally unsatisfying ending.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “3:10 to Yuma (1957)”
An absolute must – I love this movie! Each time I see this pressure-cooker, it grabs me and won’t let go. A reliable actor, Ford was, as I recall, always good. This could arguably be his best performance (it’s almost certainly his sexiest, in a smoldering way), but I don’t think it’s the only reason to see the film. And, as co-star, Van Heflin meets him every step of the way.
As noted, the story is simple – for a western (usually structured around a series of incidents), surprisingly little happens. What we’re left with is a series of episodes in which, for the most part, people talk. But the tension throughout is palpable.
[It’s rather amazing to think that Elmore Leonard’s work goes back this far. This was based on a short story of his. He was born in 1925, and I recently read his latest novel ‘Up In Honey’s Room’, just now in paperback – and simply terrific.]
-Ford has supper with Heflin and his family
-All scenes between Ford and Heflin when they’re holed up together near the end
This is a perfectly realized film in all aspects, and ffs can easily return to it from time to time. I tried to watch the remake when it came out on DVD – I didn’t make it all the way through and I’m not sure why: I like the leads but it just didn’t hold me like the original did, and I gave up.
[Note: Having read the book, I would love to someday come across Daves’ film of ‘Youngblood Hawke’ – nearly impossible to find.]