Russell Crowe as Ben Wade, cunning bandit leader
Arizona Territory, Fall 1884
Film: 3:10 to Yuma
Release Date: September 7, 2007
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The remake of the classic 1957 Western 3:10 to Yuma, based on Elmore Leonard’s short story of the same name, was released 15 years ago this week during a renaissance year for Western-themed movies, including the respective masterpieces No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I have fond memories of seeing each one in theaters with my dad including this one, which we saw one weekend early in my first semester of college and particularly resonated with its themes of fatherhood.
Russell Crowe was James Mangold’s first choice for the role of Ben Wade, the introspective and thoughtful yet still ultimately ruthless outlaw leader who had been originated on screen by Glenn Ford fifty years earlier. With a fear-and-awe-inspiring reputation akin to the real-life Jesse James (who was born today in 1847, 160 years to the day before this version of 3:10 to Yuma was released), Wade defies bandit stereotypes by seemingly preferring quietly sketching to shootouts… but that doesn’t mean he’ll hesitate to shoot fast, straight, and with wicked accuracy when he feels compelled. “I wouldn’t last five minutes leadin’ an outfit like that if I wasn’t as rotten a hell,” Wade reassures us.
We begin with an ambush as Wade’s gang of ruffians fire upon a fortified stagecoach on its way to Bisbee. (This wouldn’t be the last time a movie found Russell Crowe on his way to Bisbee, as fans of L.A. Confidential will recall.) Wade oversees the initial assault from afar, leaving it to his dangerous gunmen like the trigger-happy Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) to carry out the dirty work, until Wade goads a herd of cattle in the coach’s path, overturning it and giving his murderous gang the upper hand to execute any survivors and abscond with the loot. Looking over the wreckage, Wade quips to the wounded Pinkerton bounty hunter Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda): “Y’all spared no expense this time, Byron. Gotta say though… probably cheaper just to let me rob the damn thing.”
Wade wasn’t the only man watching from the desert hills, as down-on-his-luck rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) was out with his two sons seeking his misplaced cattle—the very cattle that Wade had released into the road—when the coach’s rattling Gatling gun and the stomps of the bandits’ horses draw them to the carnage in the canyon. Wade’s quick and deadly shooting horrifies the Civil War-hardened Dan but intrigues his teenage son William (Logan Lerman). When the men cross paths, Wade trades Evans back his own cattle in exchange for their horses, so they “don’t go doin’ nothin’… foolish,” as Prince explains.
Fate reunites Dan Evans and Ben Wade in Bisbee, where Evans helps engineer Wade’s capture and gets reluctantly recruited into the slapdash posse assigned to escort Wade to the mining boomtown of Contention, where the outlaw is to be loaded onto the 3:10 train to Yuma Territorial Prison, where he’ll be hanged to account for his 22 robberies and over $400,000 stolen from the Southern Pacific Railroad… not to mention the many lives he ended. Along the way, a unique relationship forms between the intelligent outlaw and the principled if weary father desperate only to do right by his family.
It’s a half-mile from here to the station, Dan… guess we’re walkin’.
What’d He Wear?
Russell Crowe’s costume as a Ben Wade is a significant departure from the ’50s adaptation of 3:10 to Yuma, which was excellent in its own right but faltered in dressing Glenn Ford’s Wade accurately to the time frame, instead favoring the contemporary convention of a trucker jacket and then-modern jeans with a belt and a cowboy hat… when only the latter would have truly even existed during the 1880s.
Crowe’s Ben Wade is introduced to viewers under the curled brim of his black felt telescope-crowned hat. This hat’s distinctive shape with its low, flat crown and relatively narrow brim differs from the stereotypical wide-brimmed cowboy hat, which has been said to be over-represented in Western cinema as many of those who trekked through the old west were often sporting bowler hats, gambler’s hats, or conglomerations of both as Wade wears. (IMDB states that the California-based Baron Hats made most of the principal cast’s hats in 3:10 to Yuma, though I haven’t seen this substantiated elsewhere.)
Wade’s black felt hat has a dark brown leather band, covered across the front half by a decoratively embroidered strip in a black-and-tan geometric design. Around the back of the hat, the exposed dark brown leather band has turquoise stones mounted on each side (three on the right, four on the left) and dozens of small black ringed beads sewn along the edges. The edges of the band are sewn together where they intersect at the bottom center back of the crown, with each triple-fringed end of the band extending flat along the back of the brim. The edge of the brim is finished in black grosgrain.
Wade typically wears a dark velvet coat, an elegant piece that sets him apart from the rest of his gang’s scrappier wardrobe. This thigh-length jacket falls somewhere between the shorter lounge jacket and knee-length frock coat, though it features many details typically found on the latter such as silk-faced revers and tails. Frock coats had been traditionally made without any pockets until late in the Victorian era, when tailors began adding welted breast pockets as seen on Wade’s jacket. (Also similar to Wade’s jacket, it was not typical of frock coats to have any other external pockets, such as hip pockets.)
Auction listings describe the jacket as “black velveteen”, though it appears more like a dark shade of brown velvet on screen—perhaps lighter in some areas to represent where it could have faded after long hours riding under the Arizona sun. The notch lapels are faced in black grosgrain silk, matching the cloth that covers the three closely spaced buttons on the front and the two decorative buttons on the back of the waist, above the tails—these decorative buttons are positioned along the seam that rings around the entire body of the coat, aligned with the third and lowest front button. The shoulders are straight, slightly roped at the sleeveheads, and the ends of each sleeve are banded with no decorative buttons or ornamentation.
Wade wears a light purple-gray broadcloth cotton shirt made by Anto Beverly Hills, distinguished by a unique repeating pattern of three purple chevrons that adds character to the purple-and-white weave. True to the era, the shirt lacks a collar and instead has a neckband with buttonholes through both the right and left sides, should Wade choose to dress it up with a detachable collar that would be held in place with a stud through both buttonholes… which he does not do.
Like most shirts at the time, this is a “popover shirt” (like a modern henley or polo, albeit with a longer placket) instead of a full button-front shirt. Wade’s three-button placket extends down to mid-torso, detailed with double pleats along the left side. The long sleeves are finished with narrow cuffs that close with a single button.
Wade’s intermediate layer between shirt and jacket is a black striped cotton twill waistcoat (vest). The stone-colored pinstripes divide the body of the vest into columns, with every other column detailed with a repeating diamond-shaped pattern of four squares, embroidered from the same stone-colored thread as the stripes.
Piped along the edges in black, the single-breasted vest fastens up the front with six silver-toned nailhead-textured shank buttons. The two set-in pockets have black grosgrain silk welting, with a smaller third jetted pocket above the left pocket—similar in execution to a ticket pocket, albeit on the opposing side.
Wade wears a handsome dark brown tooled leather gun belt, specifically designed for Russell Crowe to wear on screen by cowboy leather craftsman Will Ghormley, who describes the process on his website:
It had to look like it was from the 1800s but handle like a modern fast-draw holster. The black coloration was specially applied to look used as soon as it was made. The rig was colored using a special process so the color wouldn’t come off on the actor’s wardrobe. The holster was engineered with hidden features to facilitate rapid removal and re-holstering of the revolver.
The border tooling around the hand-carved floral design on the holster, was repeated along the length of the cartridge belt. The rig was hand sewn with 7-strand linen thread, coated with beeswax.
The era-correct rig positions the holster for Wade’s “Hand of God” Single Action Army revolver directly along Crowe’s waist, rather than the lower-slung “buscadero”-style gun belts made famous by the movies that didn’t prominently appear until the early 20th century. The belt closes through a large brass single-prong buckle.
Even Wade’s black moleskin felt riding trousers are fashionably elevated, with decorative black embroidery flanking the right-side seam from the waist down to the plain-hemmed bottoms. The inside of each thigh is reinforced with large black leather panels to protect Wade during hours on horseback. These flat-front trousers have slanted front pockets with black piping along the edges and a set-in back left pocket with a scalloped flap.
Wade wears plain black leather riding boots with calf-high shafts, which he initially tucks his trouser bottoms into until the last act when he wears the trousers over his boot shafts. He also regularly wears black leather gloves, protecting his hands during the vigors of an outlaw’s life.
Wade holds up his trousers with wide black cloth suspenders (braces), only prominently seen when he’s stripped down to his undershirt while sketching the nude Emma Nelson (Vinessa Shaw) after their brief assignation above her saloon in Bisbee. These suspenders have silver-toned adjusters on the front.
Wade’s undershirt is a creamy white cotton flannel long-sleeved henley-style shirt, with a wide boat-neck and long two-button placket that extends down to mid-chest with horizontal buttonholes.
As the posse realizes they’re under the watchful eye of Wade’s fiercely loyal lieutenant Charlie Prince, they launch a gambit that entails intentionally crashing the stagecoach he’s being transported in. While it’s being “repaired”, a deputy named Crawley (Chris Browning) drapes his duster over Wade’s shoulders and swaps their hats, taking Wade’s place in the stage coach to serve as a decoy for Prince’s purposes.
The light-brown duster recalls the traditional gunfighter image, with its full fit and covered-fly front, though Wade doesn’t wear it for long, seemingly permitted to abandon it after a night at the Evans homestead.
The light-gray felt hat was made by Akubra, the Australian hatmaker that produces a range of headgear but is best known for its iconic bush hats. The wide-brimmed hat Crawley lends to Wade follows a classic pinched-front design, detailed with a brown braided-hair band.
Many screen-worn costume pieces worn by Russell Crowe and his stunt double have since been auctioned, with the various auction listings available below:
- iCollector (“3:10 TO YUMA (2007) – Ben Wade’s (Russell Crowe) Bloody Costume”), Sept. 26, 2017
- Wade’s grey felt hat is made by Akubra and has a braided hair-and-leather band stitched to the exterior. The black overcoat is made of velvet, with one breast pocket and a three-button placket. The black vest has a grey diamond pattern stitched throughout and includes a label at the neck which reads ‘RC Stunt’. The grey long-sleeved shirt is made by Anto, shows stage-blood stains at the arms, and includes a custom label at the neck which reads ‘RC Oct 2006’. The white cotton undershirt shows minor stains from stage blood. Wade’s black felt trousers feature embroidery along one leg, and a reinforced leather crotch for horseback riding. Also included is a hand-written production wardrobe tag. The costume is distressed by the production with stage blood, but remains in otherwise good condition.
- Propstore Auction (“Lot #2: 3:10 TO YUMA (2007) – Ben Wade’s (Russell Crowe) Screen-Matched Costume”), June 28, 2023
- Ben Wade’s (Russell Crowe) screen-matched costume from James Mangold’s Western adventure 3:10 to Yuma. This hat screen-matches to scenes throughout the film, and the overcoat matches to Wade’s introduction scene. Originating from Russell Crowe’s personal collection, this costume consists of a black felt hat with an embroidered band inset with turquoise stones; a black velveteen overcoat; a diamond-patterned black cotton vest; a gray cotton long-sleeve shirt labeled “RC Oct 2006” at the neck; a beige cotton long-sleeve thermal; and black felted polyester pants featuring braided accents, a button placket, and a reinforced leather cup for horseback riding,. Also included are a brown leather replica belt with brass-color hardware and a gun holster added to complete the costume; a black velveteen pouch with earplugs; and a Letter of Authenticity from Crowe. The belt was made by Will Ghormley, who made the original for the film. This costume exhibits discoloration, fading, snagged fibers and threads, and loose components.
- Sotheby’s Australia (“‘BEN WADE’S’ COSTUME, AS WORN BY RUSSELL CROWE IN THE FILM, 3:10 TO YUMA (2007)”), Russell Crowe: The Art of Divorce, Apr. 7, 2018
- including a black velvet jacket, black moleskin trousers with a pattern sewn to the side of one leg, a black vest sewn with a diamond and pinstripe pattern, a grey collarless shirt, a cream wool undershirt and a black felt hat with a turquoise mounted leather band, together with a costume department mock-up comprising a drawing of Russell Crowe dressed as ‘Ben Wade’, a selection of fabric swatches used in the costume and an October 2007 issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine featuring a front cover image of Russell Crowe dressed as ‘Ben Wade’, signed by Russell Crowe
- Your Props (“3:10 to Yuma, Ben Wade Costume”)
- An original western costume designed for Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe, worn during the production of the film 3:10 to Yuma (Lionsgate, 2007). The ensemble includes a black velvet jacket, a black vest with a pinstripe and diamond pattern, a gray Anto Beverly Hills shirt, a cream wool undershirt, black moleskin trousers with a pattern sewn to the right leg, and a black felt hat with a mounted leather and and turquoise accents. Included are a pair of earplugs used by Crowe during filming and a letter from Russell Crowe stating his ownership.
“Did you see the Hand of God? His pistol?” a deputy comments when Charlie Prince “reports” the stagecoach robbery in Bisbee, referring to Ben Wade’s color case-hardened Single Action Army revolver with its distinctive grips adorned with gold-inlaid crosses. “Be careful with that thing… that gun’s got a curse on it,” Wade reports when the sardonic Tucker (Kevin Durand) takes Wade’s Colt upon his capture and begins twirling it in his hand after admiring the grips.
Colt introduced its iconic Single Action Army in 1873, quickly gaining its perhaps ironic nickname as “The Peacemaker” and nearly ubiquitous in the hands of everyone from law-enforcers to law-breakers. Over the decades to follow, this six-shooter was made available in a variety of calibers and barrel configurations, though it’s most associated with the .45 Long Colt round that was developed in tandem with the Single Action Army. The three most frequent barrel configurations are the 7½”-barreled Cavalry model, the 5½”-barreled Artillery model, and the 4 3/4″-barreled Quickdraw (or “Gunfighter”) model.
Wade carries the latter, a 4 3/4″-barreled Single Action Army produced by the now-defunct U.S. Fire Arms Mfg. Co. (USFA), best-known for producing classic Colt designs like the Single Action Army, M1911, and Lightning Carbine out of the East Armory building of the former Colt Armory complex in Hartford, Connecticut.
USFA built two Single Action Army revolvers for Crowe to use on screen, each etched with “COLT’S PT. F. A. MFG. Co. / HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A.” to resemble era-correct Colt Peacemakers and with “.45 COLT” ahead of the cylinder on the left side of the barrel. As documented by Gun Auction, the principal screen-used revolver featured serial number #16100. Though the barrel, cylinder, trigger, and grip frame are blued, the frame, loading gate, and hammer were color case-hardened by Turnbull, a process to harden a firearm’s steel frame that results in a unique colored carbon finish. The smooth ebony grips were inlaid with solid-gold crucifixes to account for the “Hand of God” nickname.
After his capture, Wade also briefly handles Byron McElroy’s sawed-down double-barreled shotgun, which the IMFDB experts have identified as a reproduction of the classic Colt Model 1878 Hammer Shotgun, so named for its distinctive pair of exposed hammers.
Colt produced more than 20,000 of these well-regarded side-by-side shotguns between 1878 and 1889, chambered in either 10- or 12-gauge. The Damascus-browned barrels ranged between 28″, 30″, and 32″, though users could have the barrels dramatically cut down for “riding shotgun”, as McElroy clearly would have done.
Though Crowe was no stranger to handling firearms on screen, he was trained by the film’s armorer Thell Reed, a renowned quick-draw shooter whom Colt dubbed the “Fastest Gun Alive” and has worked as a weapons trainer and armorer on many productions. Weapons expert Mike Tristano also worked on 3:10 to Yuma and briefly appears on screen as the dark-bearded man whom Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk) hits in the face with a shovel.
What to Imbibe
“Ma’am… some whiskey for my friends,” Wade requests when he brings the half-dozen survivors from his gang into the Bisbee saloon run by Emma Nelson, with whom it’s revealed he’s romantically involved. Emma pours each man a shot from a bottle with a vintage-looking label proclaiming the contents to be Robertson’s Genuine Bourbon Cordial, dated 1847 with a provenance of Harrison County, Kentucky.
While the Internet is rife with reproductions of this “old-timey” label, I can’t confirm if that’s because it had been an actual 19th century whiskey brand or of it’s just a popular prop label.
How to Get the Look
Ben Wade is functionally dressed for horseback riding but fashionably dressed to command respect at the head of his gang, thanks to elevated details like his frock-informed velveteen jacket, pleated shirt, fancy-striped waistcoat, embroidered trousers, and the distinctive hatband.
- Dark brown velveteen thigh-length frock coat with black grosgrain-faced notch lapels, single-breasted 3-button front, welted breast pocket, banded cuffs, and rear tails with two decorative waist buttons
- Light purple-gray broadcloth cotton (with purple chevron repeating motif) long-sleeved neckband shirt with double-pleated front placket and narrow single-button cuffs
- Black fancy-striped cotton twill single-breasted 6-button waistcoat with two black grosgrain-welted pockets and jetted left-side ticket pocket
- Black moleskin felt flat-front riding trousers with slanted front pockets, scallop-flapped back-left pocket, black embroidery flanking right side seam, black leather-reinforced crotch, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black cloth suspenders with silver-toned adjusters
- Black leather calf-high riding boots
- Dark brown floral-tooled leather gun belt with waist-positioned right-side holster for Single Action Army revolver
- Black felt telescope-crowned hat with curled brim and dark brown leather band (with black-and-tan geometric-embroidered front, turquoise mounted side stones, and triple-fringed back)
- Cream-white cotton flannel long-sleeved henley-style undershirt with 2-button placket
Fans interested in Wade’s waistcoat can purchase a similarly designed replica “Wade Vest” from Magnoli Clothiers.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
The year is never explicitly stated on screen, though a deleted scene suggests it has been one month since the death of Allan Pinkerton, which occurred July 1, 1884. Wade jokes to McElroy: “I heard that your boss, Al Pinkerton—president of the most feared protection agency in all over the world, the eye that never sleeps—I hear he got an infection from bitin’ his own tongue, and he died last month… is that true?”
This dialogue would suggest a setting of August or even September 1884, though the occasional presence of snow (for a movie set in Arizona, no less!) suggests perhaps later in the year, autumn if not winter. Since the snow actually appears in the final cut and the Pinkerton’s tongue quip doesn’t, I’m inclined to believe it’s meant to be set sometime during the fall.
That’s why I don’t mess around with doin’ anything good, Dan. You do one good deed for somebody, I imagine it’s habit-forming.