Westerns have long had traditionally clear conceptions of heroes and villains, down to the very presentation of these types based upon the color of their clothing. In the earliest westerns the good guy wore white and the bad guys black, making it very easy for the audience to follow in the age of silent cinema. Delmer Daves’ 3:10 to
was made long after this, in 1957, but the westerns still carried the same
polar characterization in its storytelling. 3:10 to Yuma breaks this mold, in a compelling
western which is also part character study that drives the story along with
contradictory behavior from the “bad guy.” Yuma
The bad guy is Ben Wade, a role that actor Glenn Ford wanted over the role of the heroic farmer Dan Evans, which was instead given to Van Heflin. Wade is an outlaw with a loyal crew following his every order. They are so loyal that there is not even a remark when Wade kills one of his own men during a holdup when he is taken hostage by the driver of the stagecoach. Rather than listen to the driver’s demands, he simply kills both of them quickly and moves on.
When Wade is captured in a nearby town, it is the loyalty of his crew which brings the biggest threat to his captors. The small town’s law wants to quickly ship Wade away to a bigger city for trial, but is in danger of attack from Wade’s crew in the process. Struggling farmer Evans agrees to take Wade to the train station and accompany him on the 3:10 to
if they can survive the gang’s attacks until the train departs. Yuma
The suspense is peppered with a number of conversations between prisoner and his captor during this wait, and we learn more about the integrity Evans has and the complexities behind Wade’s own personality. The screenplay was based on an early short story by Elmore Leonard, who has stated this to be one of his favorite adaptations of his work.
The Blu-ray release includes a newly restored 4K digital film transfer, with an uncompressed monaural soundtrack, as well as an alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack with DTS-HD Master Audio. The disc’s special features include new interviews with Leonard and Glenn Ford’s son, Peter. There is also a booklet insert with an essay from film critic Kent Jones.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 9/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Disc Features: 7/10