3:10 TO YUMA (1957)

   Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Delmer Davies(director)
   Ben Wade (Ford) and his gang ride into town to report that the stagecoach has been robbed and the driver killed. The marshal rounds up a reluctant posse and takes chase even though they are all pretty sure they left the real robbers back in town. Wade splits up his men and sends them across the border, while he remains in the quiet town making love to a dance hallgirlhe once knew in Dodge City. Potter (Henry Jones), the town drunk, rides out to the posse to alert them that Wade is still in town. The posse returns with Dan Evans (Heflin), a quiet rancher who had earlier been humiliated by the outlaws in front of his two young sons. Once the posse gets the drop on Wade in the saloon, the only two townsmen the marshal can get to take the outlaw to the nearest rail town, so he can catch the train to court, are Evans and Potter. Evans goes for the money; Potter goes to redeem his self-dignity. Holed up in a hotel room waiting for the 3:10 train to Yuma, Wade begins working on Evans’s mind, trying to convince him to let him go or to make a mental mistake that will prove fatal. Herein lies the film’s importance: There is little action except at the beginning and the end. Most of the film takes place in the hotel room as the men constantly look at the watch hanging by the bedstead, ticking the minutes until the train arrives. Wade charms both Evans and the audience with his dryly smug bravado. The rancher nearly succumbs until his own wife appears, and he knows he must do what is right in the face of overwhelming odds. Everyone deserts Evans—everyone except Potter, who at the end dies protecting Evans from Wade’s gang as they descend on the hotel. Ultimately, in a spectacular shootout through the streets on the way to the depot, Evans gets Wade to the train. Just as one of Wade’s men is in position kill Evans, Wade calls out and Evans shoots the gang member. Wade saves the rancher’s life and voluntarily climbs on the train to prison. He has met the man he wishes he could have been.
   A 2007 remake of 3:10 to Yuma, directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale as Evans and Russell Crowe as Wade, takes the original Elmore Leonard short story and develops themes that would not have worked in 1957, such as a brief sexual encounter between Wade and the dance hall girl (Vinessa Shaw). Evans’s wife (Gretchen Mol) also disappears from the story once Wade is captured and on his way.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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