Friday, September 7, 2007

3:10 to Yuma then and now




The movie 3:10 to Yuma opens today with fairly good reviews but some may not realize it's a remake of a 1957 western that was itself adapted from a 1953 Elmore Leonard short story.
Both films pay off the viewer in terms of tension and action although each speaks in the vocabulary of their respective decades. We're a long way from Sons of the Pioneers territory in any case.
The original 3:10 to Yuma, available on DVD from Sony Home Entertainment, pits Glenn Ford against Van Heflin in a psychological battle of wills. With solid direction from Delmar Daves and sumptuous black and white photography that occasionally takes a bird's eye view of the action the 50's version concentrates on the two men and how they handle the stress of their predicament. Outlaw Ben Wade (Ford) has been captured and awaits a prison train guarded by civilian Dan Evan (Heflin) whose main motive in the mission is spurred by a $200 bounty.
Both versions utilize spectacular endings that make or break the movie depending on one's ability to go with the flow. As befits a remake the contemporary 3:10 to Yuma has a radically different ending too.
The current version, released by Lionsgate, emphasizes a level of sociopathic behavior that fits in with modern concepts of violence. Both endings work in the context of what has come previously. There's also a lot more action in the James Mangold version, which stars Russell Crowe (Wade) and Christian Bale (the good guy). Fans of westerns as well as action movie buffs will find plenty of ammo for enjoyment.
- Michael Bergeron

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