Before high school, for reasons that were probably no more rational than me just being difficult, I hated Westerns. There was something about watching men ride around in black and white movies on horses fighting Indians that just held no favor for me. However, during my sophomore year, my dad sat me down and forced me to watch Lonesome Dove, and I’ve been in love with Westerns ever since. Not all of them are great, and a lot of them tell practically the same black hat vs. white hat story over and over again, but if you put a half-decent Western in front of me, I can pretty much guarantee that I can sit down and enjoy it in some way. The movie I just watched, the original 1957 version of 3:10 to Yuma wasn’t a great Western, but it was still entertaining enough and original in its own way for me to enjoy it.
3:10 to Yuma is the story of two entirely different men. One is Dan Evans (Van Heflin), a farmer whose family is suffering due to an extreme drought, and he doesn’t have the money to keep his cattle watered and alive. The other is Ben Wade (Glenn Ford), a notorious bandit that has terrorized the county with his gang. Dan witnesses Ben and his gang robbing a stagecoach and murdering the coachman. Dan and some of the town’s locals capture Ben, and due to the reward money, Dan volunteers to take Ben to another town to put him on a train to a prison. When Dan finally realizes how tough the odds are of finishing this assignment, he must decide whether his honor is worth as much as his life.
The story and pacing of the film aren’t anything particularly special, although it was refreshing to watch an older Western that was as intent on exploring the character and psychology of the men on screen as it was on big shoot-outs or fight scenes. This is honestly probably the slowest moving Western I’ve watched since High Noon, but I mean that as a compliment since it wanted to be more than just an action movie. Glenn Ford did a spectacular job as the charming and fast-talking Ben Wade. I think this might be the first Western I’ve watched that had him in a leading role, but I can’t wait to see more. Despite the fact that he was a cold-blooded murderer, you couldn’t help but like him.
If you like Westerns, you should check this one out. My dad tells me that the remake from the 2000’s with Russel Crowe and Christian Bale was better, but I haven’t had a chance to see that one yet, so I can’t make that judgment call. This was no Unforgiven or The Outlaw Josey Wales, but not every movie can be an all-time classic. If you’re just wanting to see an old time good guys and bad guys action-drama, you could do a lot worse than this one.
Final Score: B