Again the Criterion Collection has reminded us why Hollywood fails at remaking the classics. Criterion’s recent release of Delmer Daves’ 3:10 To Yuma (Spine #657) has arrived in its black and white glory. It proves that not all westerns need to possess John Wayne, big scenery, and a showdown.
A charismatic outlaw, Ben Wade (Glenn Ford), is captured in a small town. A down-on-his-luck small-time rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin) decides to take Wade, in secret, to the nearest railway station to await the train. Why? Dan needs money and is willing to risk everything to keep his family and ranch out of poverty. Once the two are set up in a hotel, the true battle begins. Wade starts eating at Dan with bribes and prophecies about how his escape will go down. Dan wrestles whether or not if he is strong enough to resist, but does he have the fortitude to carry out what no one else will do.
Originally, this film came recommended to me via a friend after a Superman (1978) conversation. The discussion stemmed from having seen Glenn Ford (who played Jonathan Kentt) in nothing else. I was then asked if I had ever seen 3:10 to Yuma. I am always up for a western, but I will be the first to admit that unless it's a John Wayne western, I probably haven't seen it. 3:10 to Yuma surprised the hell out of me. It isn’t your typical shoot 'em up, guns at high noon western. It was a battle of wills between two men. Ford, as the likable bad guy, isn't your typical man in back who has the scar on his face; he's slick, likable, and charismatic. Heflin, who I have never seen in anything before, as the sympatric rancher, is the last person who should be asked to take Ford away. He is the one character with everything to lose. The battle of wills between these two characters made this film better than any gun fight.
The film does move at a slow pace because it takes its time to develop its characters. Thus, it never wastes a minute of screen time. Everything that happens is for a reason and it gives you enough insight to care about both characters. This is something that isn’t done in many modern day films. What is amazing is that by the end of the film, you will wonder where the time went.
With this being a Criterion release, there is your standard of insightful special features. Rarely do these classic westerns have recent interviews with anyone from the cast or crew. Criterion supplies you with a 2012 interview of the author of the original story, Elmore Leonard (Out of Sight). Leonard is quick to tell you that his secondary reason for turning out so many pulp stories was money. He also divulges what in the film was not in his original pulp tale. It’s an incredible interview and completely worth the watch as Leonard never pulls any punches.
Another interview on the Blu-ray that also keeps the fists flying is that of Glenn Ford’s son, Peter Ford. He reveals that his Dad was no saint, nor was he the ideal father for the world they lived in. It is a sad interview at times and the young Ford does reveal that it took him a while to appreciate his Dad. Mix that with the fact that it also took him time to become a fan of his work. The interesting thing is that it was Peter Ford who introduced Glenn Ford to Richard Donner, the director of Superman. It was that meeting that introduced Glenn Ford to a whole new generation that will forever see him as Superman’s father, Jonathan Kent.
Blu-ray Special Features:
New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio
New interviews with author Elmore Leonard and actor Glenn Ford’s son and
biographer, Peter Ford
Plus: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones