3:10 to Yuma (1957 film)

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For other uses, see 3:10 to Yuma.
3:10 to Yuma
310 to Yuma (1957 film).jpg
theatrical release poster
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by David Heilweil
Screenplay by Halsted Welles
Based on short story Three-Ten to Yuma by
Elmore Leonard
Starring Glenn Ford
Van Heflin
Felicia Farr
Music by George Duning
Cinematography Charles Lawton, Jr.
Edited by Al Clark
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 7, 1957 (1957-08-07) (US)
Running time 92 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.85 million (US)[1]

3:10 to Yuma is a 1957 American western film starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin and directed by Delmer Daves. The film was based on a 1953 short story by Elmore Leonard. In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[2]

The title song, "3:10 to Yuma" was by George Duning (music), with lyrics by Ned Washington (and also recorded by Sandy Denny in 1967).

Plot[edit]

In the Arizona Territory of the 1880s, rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin) and his young sons witness a stagecoach holdup. When the driver, Bill Moons (Sheridan Comerate), overpowers one of the robbers and uses him as a human shield, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford), the leader of the gang, callously shoots both men.

Wade and his men stop at the saloon in nearby Bisbee, Arizona, posing as cowhands. When Wade stays to seduce the pretty barmaid Emmy (Felicia Farr), he is captured, but his henchman Charlie Prince (Richard Jaeckel) gets away with the news. The townspeople fear what his men will do, so the town marshal decides to have two volunteers sneak the prisoner to Contention City to catch a train, the 3:10 to Yuma. Mr. Butterfield (Robert Emhardt), the stage-line owner, offers $200 for the dangerous job. Desperate after three years of drought, Dan jumps at the opportunity, but the only other man interested is the town drunk, Alex Potter (Henry Jones). When no one else steps forward, the marshal reluctantly accepts them.

Wade is placed on a stagecoach, which then stops (in view of some of the gang) for a faked repair; the outlaw is secretly taken off while the stage continues on with an imposter, in the hopes that by the time the outlaws figure out what has happened, it will be too late. Wade is taken to Dan's ranch, where Dan's devoted wife Alice (Leora Dana) serves supper to the family and their "guest".

Dan, Alex and Wade leave under cover of darkness, reaching Contention City at daybreak. Butterfield has reserved the bridal suite at the hotel. While they wait for the train, Wade tries several times to bribe Dan into letting him go, his interest in Dan seeming to go beyond a simple exchange of freedom for cash. Dan is greatly tempted. The local sheriff is out of town, but Butterfield hires five men to help escort the prisoner to the train.

Things go awry when Bob Moons (Sheridan Comerate) barges in unexpectedly and threatens to shoot his brother's killer. Dan wrestles his gun away from him, but in the struggle, it goes off. Downstairs, Charlie Prince (Richard Jaeckel), who has also come to Contention City, hears the gunshot, and spots Wade in a window. Charlie is seen riding off to fetch the rest of the gang.

The men Butterfield recruited watch as seven riders enter the town. Not liking the odds, they retreat, leaving only Dan, Alex and Butterfield. When Alex goes out to reconnoiter, he spots one of Wade's men on a rooftop opposite the hotel. Alex calls out, warning Dan, but is shot in the back by Prince. The gang hangs the wounded Alex from the lobby chandelier, killing him. Butterfield decides that maintaining Wade as a prisoner is not worth the risk, and releases Dan from his obligation. Alice arrives and also tries to change her husband's mind, but he is committed: "The town drunk gave his life because he believed that people should be able to live in decency and peace together. You think I can do less?"

When the clock strikes three, Dan escorts Wade out the back door. Gang members take shots whenever they can without endangering Wade, but despite their best efforts, they cannot stop the pair from reaching the platform, where the train is waiting. Finally, the outlaws emerge to confront Dan as the train starts to leave. Charlie shouts for Wade to drop to allow them a clear shot at Dan. Instead, Wade unexpectedly tells Dan to jump into the passing baggage car. They jump together. The gang starts to run after the train, but Dan shoots Charlie and the rest then let it go. Wade explains himself, saying he felt he owed Dan for protecting him from Bob Moons in the hotel room, and confidently claiming he has broken out of the Yuma jail before (implying he can do so again), but whether these statements reflect his true motivations and prospects is not clear. Alice sees Dan safe on the train as rain pours down on her, breaking the long drought.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

When first released in the summer of 1957, the film became popular among audiences and critics alike for its suspenseful nature and sharp black-and-white cinematography. Ford received particular notice for his against-type villainous performance. The following year, 3:10 to Yuma was nominated for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Film and the Laurel Award for Top Male Action Star, which went to Van Heflin.

Since its release, the film has become a staple of cable television and has gained an audience of several generations. A critically successful remake starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and directed by James Mangold was released in 2007.

The film caused "Yuma" to enter the lexicon of Cuban slang: Yumas is a term for American visitors, while La Yuma is the United States.[3]

Home video[edit]

A region A/1 Blu-ray DVD of the film was released in 2013.[4] A region 1 DVD was released in 2002.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
  2. ^ King, Susan (December 19, 2012). "National Film Registry selects 25 films for preservation". The Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ Sokol, Brett (October 8, 2007). "3:10 to Yuma in Cuba: How a Western changed the way Cubans speak". Slate. 
  4. ^ 3:10 to Yuma (Blu-ray (region 1/A)). The Criterion Collection. May 14, 2013.  This release is a restored version of the film. It contains interviews with author Elmore Leonard and with Peter Ford, the son (and biographer) of actor Glenn Ford.
  5. ^ 3:10 to Yuma (DVD (region 1)). SONY Home Pictures Entertainment. January 1, 2002. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bosley Crowther's review in 1957: Crowther, Bosley (August 29, 1957). "Screen: '3:10 to Yuma'; Suspenseful Western Arrives at Astor". The New York Times. "Except that the ending is romantic and incongruous, in the face of what goes on, this is a first-rate action picture—a respectable second section to High Noon." 
  • A recent appreciation of the film: Jones, Kent (May 14, 2013). "3:10 to Yuma: Curious Distances". The Criterion Collection. "It is, as Bertrand Tavernier has written, a “magnificent parable of liberty”—as well as a moving depiction of a marriage at a crossroads, a fascinating study in ambiguity, and one of the most visually striking of all westerns. On many levels, 3:10 to Yuma stands alone in the genre and, I think, in American cinema." 

External links[edit]