3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma ★★★★

Yesterday I realized it had been far too long since I had viewed a Western; I went with one more allegorical and psychological than most in the genre but this is still worthy of viewing if you dig stories revolving around the Wild West.

Based-yet greatly expanded upon-a story by Elmore Leonard, poor down on his luck cattle farmer Dan Evans (Van Heflin) has to transport intelligent criminal and gang leader Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to jail in Yuma, Arizona-back then the Arizona Territory-before the outlaw's posse tracks them down. It is more complex than the brief plot synopsis would suggest; Wade is not a standard blackhat villain and he's a charmer with the ladies. Evans only does this task for the money and to salve what he feels is wounded pride as the opening scene has Wade humble Evans in front of his two young sons. Pride and honor are two key components to the story.

Both Ford and Heflin are tremendous in their roles... Heflin as someone who doubts himself but tries to act tough, while Ford is oh so cool and unflappable, yet also talks a lot of trash & is also desperate and sleazy enough to offer Dan a large sum of money to let him walk away instead of completing the job and run a good risk of being killed by his bandit pals. I also have to give credit for Felicia Farr (as a dame who you find out has a melancholy backstory) and Leora Dana as the wife of Evans; they have far less screentime but they still manage to leave their mark.

The movie is framed so well throughout (especially in the conversations between the two leads) and is is quite suspenseful as you wait and see what choice Dan Evans will make. The scenery of Arizona and California provides a lovely backdrop and there are other supporting characters who are interesting and their moral turpitude and courage can certainly be questioned. I cannot compare this with the 2007 remake but maybe one day...

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