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. Continue reading
Glenn Ford as Ben Wade, bandit leader
Arizona Territory, 1880s
Film: 3:10 to Yuma
Release Date: August 7, 1957
Director: Delmer Daves
Costume Designer: Jean Louis
Looking for a movie to watch on 3/10? I recommend 3:10 to Yuma, the swift, suspenseful, and compelling Western based on an early short story by Elmore Leonard.
Modern audiences may be more familiar with the 2007 adaptation starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as the outlaw and the rancher, respectively, though the original black-and-white version was produced in 1957, four years after Leonard’s story was published in Dime Western Magazine.
A decade before revisionist Westerns would become fashionable in “New Hollywood”, the original 3:10 to Yuma followed in the allegorical tradition of High Noon (1952) with complex characters and moral questions that paint a worldview where the concept of right and wrong are less black and white than the cinematography.