125 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2002
'3:10 To Yuma' is a stark monochrome Western that has been praised for its suspense and high moral tone. Van Heflin, in a darker variant on his role in 'Shane', plays a character who picks up where most Westerns leave off. The genre is usually concerned with taming wild loners or men with pasts. rewarding them with the joys of civilisation. Heflin has seen what civilisation really means. He lives on a drought-dry farm with a wife and two children he often fails to feed. The grind of fruitless labour has worn them all down, and Heflin's identity as a man, having been once the greatest shot in these parts, is now undermined by humiliation in front of his family by outlaws stealing his cattle and horses, or forced to beg money from indifferent acquaintances. His wife can't understand that his inability to 'be' a 'man' is the result of the civilisation she represents.
What's a poor honest farmer to do when he sees murderers and thieves throwing money around, drinking their fill, bedding beautiful strangers, and generally living the whooping-it-up life? Glenn Ford is the not-completely-irredeemable leader of a gang of devoted sadists so feared throughout the region that no lawman dares touch him. Such men are usually let down by their sexual desire, and when he leaves his gang to schmooze a barmaid, he is captured by the locals. Knowing that they will be no match for the manpower or ruthlessness of the gang when they return to rescue Ford, the sheriff plans a decoy, which will need two foolishly brave men to take the bandit to the train station at Contention City. The initally reluctant Heflin accepts the job when a farm-saving reward of $200 is offered.
In many ways, 'Yuma' works against the conventions of the Western as it seeks, like the hero to avoid action and the inevitable climactic shoot-out for as long as possible. The film's centre-piece is a lengthy, stagy sequence in a hotel room in which Heflin holds Ford prisoner - potential ponderousness is offset by the terrific acting of the two aging actors, one goading and testing the other, tempting with crooked offers that are all too tempting; the other struggling manfully to resist. At first, Heflin's taking the job is strictly economical - he needs the money. Then it becomes ethical, a stand against socially disruptive forces threatening the community. It is also a test of the masculinity that has long been buried by family duties. Finally, it is an existential struggle, with Ford as the man Heflin could easily become (and perhaps once was?), and his men as the instruments of inexorable Fate the farmer must face and outwit on his own, stripped of support, just as Man must eventually face Death.
The film's mise-en-scene is suitably austere, the black-and-white cinematography emphasising sharp contrasts, the alienating outlines of buildings and landscapes, and the vulnerable men and women who walk through them - sometimes watching 'Yuma' is like leafing slowly through an album of stark 19th century photographs taken of the West. The 'city' in which the film is mostly played out initially seems like a ghost town, and a surreal funeral sequence interrupting, or accentuating, the tension, gives a quality of dream. Delmer Daves' direction is not self-effacing - every shot is meticulously, often heavily composed, character patterns structured in frames creating a sense of constriction and claustrophobia that serves to turn the plot's screws. What saves the film from being just another superfical 'High Noon' 'allegory' is the sudden bursts of violence rupturing the tense silence, and the ultimate refusal to wholeheartedly embrace doom-and-gloom existentialism.
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
When speaking of the great Westerns such as SHANE, THE SEARCHERS and HIGH NOON, 3:10 TO YUMA should definitely be mentioned. All of these films came out in the 50's, but 3:10 has somehow been forgotten.
Van Heflin plays a farmer suffering from a drought. He is a quiet, seemingly passive man who becomes a reluctant hero. Heflin agrees to hold criminal Glenn Ford in a hotel room for $200 just long enough for the train to Yuma to leave at 3:10. Ford's gang, however, learns about the situation and plans to take action. The characters and performances by Ford and Heflin make the film work. Heflin is outwardly reluctant to take this job, but his strength lies within. The struggle within him is evident: Here's a family man who can save his farm or do what he knows is right. Ford, the criminal, is alluring, almost charming. He's a con artist and a cold-blooded killer, but you can't help liking him just a little. Sure, he's a criminal, but not your typical stereotyped Western bad guy. The suspense and tension waiting for the train rival that of HIGH NOON (just without the clock!). Even if you don't like Westerns, you'll like 3:10 TO YUMA.
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2007
Firstly the four stars are for this wonderful film and the performances of it's cast.
On the flipside I am extremely disappointed at what purports to be a "special edition" I can't for the life of me see what the addition of a trailer and a teaser trailer for the remake makes this so "special". Where are the commentaries, documentaries or featurettes? C'mon guys this is what DVD is all about. Vanilla release are a shameful waste of a brilliant versatile format.It's a disgrace. This is false advertising at its worst and shame on Sony for trying to squeeze a few last bucks out of this version before the remake hits the shelves. Those behind this "special edition" should themselves be put on the 3.10 to Yuma.
If you don't own the movie already then you may wish to buy because I would'nt hold out much hope for an Ultimate edition (they might add a photo gallery!)If you're looking for something extra here well there is always that controversial new cover art!
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2007
3:10 to Yuma is an interesting blend of Western and Suspense, but more captivating still is its methodical examination of fleeting morals, blind justice, and the charismatic villain at the heart of the conflict.
Notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) and his gang rob a stagecoach transporting significant funds of one Mr. Butterfield (Robert Emhardt) and end up killing the driver in the process. Farmer Dan Evans (Van Heflin) and his son are witness to the tragic events but are unable to help, save for notifying the authorities. When Dan returns home and his son explains the day's harrowing event, his wife appears disappointed by his apparent lack of courage, though his family's safety was foremost in his mind. When Dan is forced to go into town to borrow money for his farm's upkeep, he discovers that Ben Wade has stayed behind and the desperate farmer agrees to help apprehend the nefarious criminal. Upon Wade's capture, Butterfield employs Dan to guard the outlaw until 3:10 when the train to Yuma will arrive and take him to prison. But when Wade's gang arrives in town to free their leader, Dan will find that honor and dedication may only lead to an early grave.
While 3:10 to Yuma may appear to be an action film, it is actually an intricate examination of character, both hero and villain, set against a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse in the old West. Van Heflin's protagonist represents the forces of good and parallels the difficulties present that don't always allow justice to prevail - at least not at first anyway. Honor and pride play an important role in Dan's decisions, as his wife's initial chagrin instigates his desire to bring Wade to justice. His belief in this subjective moral is so determinate that he even protects Wade from certain death just to attempt to deliver him to the law's judgement.
As unique and interestingly obstinate as Dan's demeanor is, the villain of the film actually overshadows him in charisma and stage presence. Glenn Ford's portrayal of outlaw Ben Wade is one of the finest character studies in cinema, as he approaches the role with a full palette of emotions and intentions, complete with a similar belief in honor and morals that deceptively shifts as the film progresses. The opening scene finds Wade nonchalantly killing one of his own men when held hostage, and such dispassionate violence would lead one to believe the vilest of villains stands before him. However, the narrative follows Wade just as much as Evans and we discover he stays behind in the town of Bisbee to woo the young bartender Emmy (Felicia Farr). His presence is so captivating in fact that not only does he get the girl, but she seems completely unfazed to learn that he is the notorious Ben Wade. When the outlaw is captured by Evans, their witty back-and-forth banter often reveals Wade to be the more entertaining of the two and most often it's hard not to root for the bad guy. The final confrontation with Wade's gang cements what we'd been expecting all along - the line between heroes and villains is a thin one, at least in this engaging battle of wits and integrity.
Though the plot is light on action, the story is heavy on suspense as Dan attempts to carry out his suicidal mission. Mind games replace gunplay and while the film's running time doesn't outstay its welcome, those expecting a nonstop shootout extravaganza may leave unsatisfied, while the film connoisseur will be delighted by the intricate character study. Reminiscent of deliberately paced suspenseful westerns like John Sturges' Bad Day at Black Rock and of course Fred Zinnemann's High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma deserves a place of its own in classic cinema for its daring antagonist and intent focus on the composition of heroism and the trials and tribulations it requires.
- Joel Massie
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2008
Now this is a great western! This original is far superior to the remake in so many ways. But the main factor has got to be the realism.
Right in the beginning there is a stagecoach robbery. This one didn't have a 200lb. gatling gun that was mowing down any bandits dumb enough to get in its path.
Other things done better--the hero's wife and kids had more respect for him. In the newer version they basically treat ole Dan Evans like a loser, which doesn't seem to fit with the timeframe.
The romance between the head outlaw, Ben Wade, and the beautiful bartender was much better developed.
In this original, Dan doesn't go from crippled wimp to fearless hero. He was already a tough man, so his refusal to take any bribes from Wade was so much more believable.
Then of course there is the ending. This one is just as intense and 10 times more believable.
I didn't think the remake was horrible, but this is so much better. I am glad I've seen them both, and I recommend giving them a look.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
310 to Yuma is a psychological western, adapted from a story written by the thriller expert Elmore Leonard, and filmed in beautiful black and white. Glenn Ford and Van Heflin play the bad guy and the good guy, respectively, who are both struggling to survive in a barren land. Ford's character is the leader of a notorious band of vicious, homicidal outlaws--a man who lives for the instinctive thrill of the moment. Van Heflin is the cautious average guy who struggles to raise cattle in the middle of a drought and can't afford to pay for water rights until the rainy season.
When Ford gets caught by the law, Van Heflin is paid to get him to the train which will take him to jail. Ford works on Van Heflin to persuade him to let him go. At times listening to the two conversing, it sounds like two sides of the same man dark and light, one arguing to let this cause go and live safely, the other that he must do what is right. They illustrate the elemental struggle for all of us--do we live for the moment or resist the seduction of the physical comforts of life in order to develop our souls. This psychological duel is mirrored in the visuals of the film with sharply contrasting sunlight and shadow. In the climactic scene, the two run a gauntlet of gunslingers to the train, the 310 to Yuma.
Ultimately the story is not one of good versus evil but the story of a man discovering his inner strength even if this means risking all he cares about. Directing, cinematography and acting are all excellent. Glenn Ford is particularly worth mentioning, playing the outlaw with creepy intensity.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2007
Despite the lousy cover art, this is a fantastic western and I'm giving the film (not the DVD cover!) 5 stars. The character play between Van Heflin and Glen Ford is dynamic and I wouldn't count on any of that for the action-oriented remake.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2007
This Delmer Daves 1957 gem is a superlative piece of genre filmmaking that is not only better than its 2007 re-make, but is actually, in terms of writing, cinematography (crisp, sharp, moody black and white),pacing,editing, and character interaction, better than the vaunted "High Noon".
Glenn Ford gives a riveting performance as the outlaw leader, "Ben Wade" ("Jim Kidd" in the Elmore Leonard short story) that is almost reptilian in its sinister overtones. He could almost be the serpent in the Biblical Garden of Eden. Van Heflin also shines as "Dan Evans" ("Paul Scallen", Leonard called him in the short story), an "everyman" small rancher of principle who takes on the job of putting Wade on the 3:10 to Yuma out of both a desire for much-needed reward money, but also out of a sense of personal resposibility to do what is right. It is more that factor than the other when Evans is told the money will be paid to him regardless.
The simple precept of doing something because it is the right thing to do has basically become a concept of "archaic silliness" in the "hip" 21st century, so a whole new set of psychological motivations is applied to Dan's actions in the 2007 version, which weakens the product considerably in my estimation. I'll take this older version any day.
Another great performance in the film is turned in by Richard Jaeckel, who was seemingly always portraying a half-nuts , kill-crazy gunman in westerns of the period, both theatrical releases and t.v. series westerns.
Jaeckel's patented baddie is as readily identifiable here as "Charlie Prince" as he was earlier as Billy the Kid in "Stories of the Century" on t.v., or as Jesse Evans later in Duke Wayne's "Chisum"...and in all spots during, after, and in between.
This is a truly exceptional western that has had too much limited access for far too long. Thankfully it can be enjoyed and appreciated again as it deserves to be.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Maybe it's my own Wyoming roots clouding my judgment, but I absolutely love a GOOD Western, especially those having Southwest settings, especially Arizona and Old Mexico - having heard tales of them spun by my mother and father since childhood.
When the "new" version of "3:10 to Yuma" hit the previews, I suddenly realized I wanted to make the comparison since I often do that. To make it even more enticing, I had never seen the old version.
The heart of the story centers around a good man, desperate for money, who unwittingly becomes ensnared in the capture of an outlaw, and as part of his volunteering for the paid work, he must "take the prisoner to the 3:10 to Yuma". The interaction between the psyche of the two men makes for a remarkable tale . He knows only too well that his prisoner, even though shackled, is not entirely handicapped by that fact; is probably smarter than he is, and certainly more cunning, honed to a razor sharp edge by profession, and backed by a well-organized gang of scoundrels who are still on the loose.
I rate this most excellent older movie 5 stars, even with a few oddities and the highly improbable ending. (other than that, it had every possibility of having actually occurred somewhere back in time, which is one of the things I look for).
I'm amazed I hadn't seen it before. It has all the essential elements of an enduring Classic: a well written, well chosen and unique story line; great casting, and splendid direction, enhanced by a smoldering moment or two between male and female without the graphics deemed so necessary now. (not knocking "now", just making the statement that physical emotion can be transmitted very successfully without the graphics, which, in my view took much more thought process and showcased the talent of this director,who brought the story to life through the well chosen cast and his ability to bring out the best in each of them.)
I highly recommend this movie and encourage anyone watching it for the first time to look for all the details that set this one apart from the crowd.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2003
3:10 to Yuma is an excellent pyschological western with a similar story to High Noon. The leader of a gang is captured by a posse after a robbery and must be transported to another town so he can be moved on the train. One of the local farmers, who is in desperate need of money, agrees to travel with him and watch him until he can be put on the train, the 3:10 to Yuma. All along the way, the outlaw plays mind games with the farmer trying to manipulate him into letting him go. There is plenty here for western fans. The dialogue between Glenn Ford and Van Heflin is the best part of the movie as they go back and forth between them while Ford plays his mindgames on the unwilling hero, Heflin.
Glenn Ford gives one of his best performances ever as Wade, the smooth-talking, calm, but ruthless gang leader. His character is perfect for this role, and could not have been done any better. Van Heflin is just as good as the poor farmer watching over Wade. It is easy to see the anger inside of him as Wade continues to push his buttons as they wait for the train. The rest of the cast includes many western actors, most notably Richard Jaeckel as Charlie, the right hand man of Wade who plays the slimy gunfighter throughout. It is great to see this movie on DVD, which includes the widescreen presentation. Western fans will love this great movie with an even better cast!