3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma ★★★★½

Western Marathon | Film #8: 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

3:10 to Yuma is a movie that I did not quite know what to expect from, first because I had already seen the remake, second because it looked like the kind of movie that might not really be to my liking. Now that I have seen it, however, I have no idea why it had never really been on my radar before. 3:10 to Yuma is an absolute gem of the western genre.

Delmer Daves' film plays out similarly to one of my all-time favorites of the genre, High Noon, in that both single out a protagonist and his journey throughout the course of a single day, and both apply the density of their runtime in their favor to enhance a fast-paced, straight-forward story with deep and complex moral implications.

To my surprise, as I watched this right after seeing Leone's Dollar trilogy again, I noticed the numerous closeup shots of the actors' faces, highlighting the sweat on their forehead as the severity of their situations increases. I would be heavily surprised if Leone had not in some ways been inspired by Daves' approach.

It's a simplistic concept that dominates the premise of 3:10 to Yuma: an outlaw is captured, and a rancher agrees to take him to the nearest railway station where he shall be brought to court. However, this concept is executed with extraordinary precision, to the extent that every shot contributes something of pivotal importance to the overall film. Just like with my favorite, High Noon, I can see myself upgrading this to a 5-star rating sometime in the future, and it's once again a confirmation to me that the combination of being short, on point and focused on morally ambiguous characters and themes is responsible for some of my favorites in the western genre.

1957 Ranked

The Criterion Challenge 2021
Task #33: Western

Featured in: Great Movies

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