3:10 to Yuma (1957)
January 16, 2024 12:05 AM - Subscribe

Broke small-time rancher Dan Evans is hired by the stagecoach line to put big-time captured outlaw leader Ben Wade on the 3:10 train to Yuma but Wade's gang tries to free him.

Dan Evans (Van Heflin), a drought-plagued Arizona rancher, volunteers to take captured stagecoach robber and murderer Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) from Bisbee to Contention City, where the criminal will be put aboard the 3:10 train to Yuma for his trial. Accompanied only by the town drunk, Alex Potter (Henry Jones), Dan battles Wade's henchman (Richard Jaeckel), the murder victim's revenge-minded brother, and the temptation of the large bribe Wade offers in exchange for his freedom.

Bosley Crowther: That is to say, it tells a story of a peace-loving cowboy who is pressed by personal need and a sense of moral lightness into upholding the law against a band of ruthless toughs. It paces the suspense of his ordeal against the scheduled arrival of a train. And it leaves him all alone in the clammy stillness of a frightened cow-town to shoot it out with the unrelenting toughs.Of course, there are differences in details. The hero in this gritty Western film is confronted with the man he has to handle rather early along in the affair.

Michaela Owens: Make no mistake, though, this is also a scene of seduction. Wade and Emmy want each other. With a delicacy you wouldn’t expect from the man we saw shoot one of his own minutes before, Wade moves into Emmy’s space, caressing her face and nuzzling her neck. There is gentleness in their carnality, a mournful whisper rather than a feverish scream. When we next see them coming from the backroom, Wade without his hat and Emmy touching her clothes, there is no doubt about what’s happened. The intimacy of the moment is heightened even more as director Delmer Daves cuts to a close-up of the couple as they note the fleetingness of their time together. “I ain’t complainin’,” Emmy assures him. “I got something to remember.” “Me too,” Wade replies with complete sincerity. This isn’t a romance that will last for the rest of their days; it’s an hour of human connection, a warm memory to turn to when life makes you feel bitter.

When I first saw 3:10 to Yuma, I was not prepared for how much Glenn Ford would take my breath away. Perhaps I should’ve been — after all, this is the same man who makes me (and Bette Davis) swoon in A Stolen Life, who cracks me up with his sly comedic skills in The Gazebo, who frustrates me to no end (as he is supposed to) in Gilda, and who shatters my heart in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father and Dear Heart. But 3:10 to Yuma is another animal entirely.

Hamlette (Rachel): I said that this movie is more akin to film noir than typical westerns, and that's true in that it highlights the boldness of men outside the law, and shows how impotent lawmen can be in the face of determined sin. But it does not hold true to all noir tropes. Emmy (Felicia Farr) is no femme fatale -- she does not lure Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to his doom, though by following his own inclinations, he meets with trouble nonetheless. And it lacks that sense of helplessness and hopelessness that fills most noir. But 3:10 is crammed with psychological drama, like good noir, and much of the cinematography echoes the noir fascination with light and dark, unusual camera angles, and using macabre or shocking images to make a point.

posted by Carillon (1 comment total)
I haven't seen the 2007 version, despite the DVD being sold in every single stack of old DVDs found at flea markets, because the 1957 version is so perfect that I didn't want to ruin it for myself. It's great when someone is cast against type and they knock it out of the park.
posted by jabah at 4:55 AM on January 16

« Older Book: Dark Harvest by Norman P...   |  Movie: 3:10 to Yuma... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments