3:10 to Yuma (1957) Blu-ray Review
There is a lonely train…called the 3:10 to Yuma…The pounding of the wheels is more like a mourning sigh…
And the man on that train will be Ben Wade (Glenn Ford, who, it turns out, has a face ripe for a heel), a notorious outlaw who has just held up a stagecoach and is, as always, a wanted man. After the capture, the marshal (Ford Rainey, THE SAND PEBBLES) declares that Wade will be escorted to Contention City’s train station, where he’ll take the—you guessed it—3:10 to Yuma, where a jail cell awaits.
Aware the recent drought has posed a serious threat to his and his family’s livelihood, local rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin, George Steven’s classic SHANE, 1946’s THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS) volunteers for the task and its $200 payoff. The only other willing citizen is the town drunk (Henry Jones, who played doomed janitor LeRoy in THE BAD SEED), which goes to show just how foolish one might be to spend so much time with Wade.
But 3:10 TO YUMA is not about the journey. In fact, after Evans takes Wade out of the bar he’s captured in, it’s only about 15 minutes before they’re in Contention. The film is more about these two men, their methods and their motivations.
While holed up in a bridal suite, one eye on the clock, the other on the man across the room, the characters reveal themselves to be more complex than the genre at the time would generally let on. The westerns of the time clearly defined who the hero was and who the villain was (many even stooped to show the sheriff in white and the outlaw in black). And while we know that Evans is good and Wade is bad, they both show traits of the other. Evans is a man tempted more by money than he is doing what’s right; Wade is instinctually an outlaw, but knows how to properly return a favor even to his captor. (Even Evans’ wife, played by Leora Dana, gets “giddy-eyed” over Wade during the perfectly structured dinner scene.) Van Heflin and Glenn Ford both give strong performances that play well against each other, but it’s the latter who proves he could be more than just a handsome movie star.
3:10 TO YUMA is based on an Elmore Leonard short story and directed by Delmer Daves, who helmed 1956’s JUBAL (also starring Ford) and the film noir essential DARK PASSAGE (with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall), to name just two. It was photographed by cinematographer Charles Lawton, Jr. (who also shot Orson Welles’ THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI), here establishing a level of entrapment in the last half of the film through shadows and camera placement.
But the key (and almost forgotten element) to the film is the words of singer Frankie Laine (who also sang the title song for GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL and, later, BLAZING SADDLES): When you take the 3:10 to Yuma, you can see the ghosts of outlaws go riding by in the sky…It’s also true they say, on the 3:10 to Yuma a man can meet his fate, for fate travels everywhere.
3:10 TO YUMA BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 1.85:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer, which “was produced from a restoration…for which a digital transfer was created in 4K resolution…” offers a stunning black and white presentation that does proper justice to Charles Lawton, Jr.’s cinematography. While the picture has been cleaned up to present incredible detail and contrast, it still maintains a level of grain that will please film purists.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English Mono. This Blu-ray also offers a crisp audio track, with clean dialogue and strong sound effects (from horse hooves to gunfire).
Elmore Leonard (13:01): The writer, now 87, sits down to discuss his work, as well as Delmer Daves’ adaptation of his 1953 short story, which was published in Dime Western Magazine.
Peter Ford (15:04): Glenn Ford’s son, Peter (author of Glenn Ford: A Life), discusses the style and persona of his late father.
Also included is a 16-page booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones.