Sunday, 24 August 2014

3:10 to Yuma [1957]

High Noon heralded a generation of character-driven psychological Westerns, and 3:10 to Yuma, Delmer Daves’ adaptation of an Elmore Leonard short story, was a striking example of that. This low-budget film played out as a tense cat-and-mouse thriller given its marvelously plotted tale about two men trying to outwit each other and the tight temporal span of the storyline; but its greater strengths lay in the layered character arcs of its leads, and the way Delmer provided a delicate balance between grime and grittiness on one hand, and affecting moments of melancholia and evocation of the West’s loneliness on the other. The film begins with Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) and his close-knit gang holding up a stagecoach which ends with robbery and a couple of casual murders; the event is witness by hardened rancher and family-man Dan Evans (Van Heflin). When offered money to catch Ben and make him board the titular train, Dan, who’s hard pressed for money on account of drought, takes up the job. Holding him at gunpoint and awaiting the train, a fascinating game of one-upmanship begins as Ben offers to buy Dan out while also coolly making him aware that his men will arrive before the train does. Ford was absolutely terrific as the charming and confident, but also weary, surprisingly suicidal and complex outlaw. The film was beautifully shot in B/W with action continually shifting between exteriors and interiors, while the lilting score added an introspective touch to it. The violence in the first scene was followed by focus on a family finding the going tough, and a leisurely paced and quietly sentimental bar scene followed that – they were enough to show the film’s depth and virtuosity.

Director: Delmer Daves
Genre: Western/Psychological Western
Language: English
Country: US


Alex DeLarge said...

I wasn't a fan of the remake. I revisited this a few months ago and was again struck by the wonderful cinematography.

Shubhajit said...

Having watched the original I was curious how the remake has shaped up, so thanks for letting me know that it can safely be skipped.

Sam Juliano said...

This is indeed an outstanding "character-driven psychological" western that is both engrossing and visually resplendent. You bring a fabulous appreciation of the film here Shubhajit!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. Really loved the film, and Glen Ford's characterization in particular.