Thursday, January 17, 2008


Two trips to Yuma

By Edward Copeland
My general rule is to avoid remakes of good movies, but when 3:10 to Yuma was opening last year, it was a case of a remake where I hadn't seen the original. So I waited. I finally caught up with the 1957 version and while it was good enough, I saw room for improvement and watched the 2007 edition. Now that I've seen both, I can say that each film does some things better than its cinematic sibling.

The things I liked better in Delmer Daves' 1957 3:10 to Yuma is its stark black-and-white cinematography and great use of shadows. It also happens to contain what may be the best Glenn Ford performance I've ever seen as the bad guy Ben Wade. He's smooth and though Ford was cast against type as the villain, his Wade doesn't chew the scenery in a sinister way as you might expect. He's charming and seductive and you can really see how the underlying bond of mutual respect develops between him and the rancher Dan Evans (Van Heflin).

In the 2007 version, while Russell Crowe is very good as Ben Wade, his rendering of the character actually pales a bit when compared to Ford's. On the other hand, Christian Bale's Dan Evans does develop better and shows more shadings than Heflin's model.

Daves' 1957 version also is great in its efficiency. It runs less than 90 minutes and doesn't seem to suffer for it. In contrast, director James Mangold's 2007 version, while paced very well and more than a half-hour longer, seems to skimp on some of the details that the 1957 version had the time to explore.

What 2007's version has going for it, in addition to filmmaking advances, is just the sheer Western spectacle of it all. It sacrifices the intimacy of the 1957 film, but adds the scope. Also, Ben Foster makes a much bigger impression as Wade's main henchman Charlie Prince than Richard Jaeckel did in the earlier movie.

I haven't read the Elmore Leonard story upon which both films were based, but I've heard the 2007 3:10 to Yuma adheres more closely to its source in terms of its ending.

Of course, the surprise element was lost on me in the 2007 version since I'd seen the 1957 one first, but I think the darker ending of Mangold's version actually doesn't work as well as Daves' film.

Both versions end up being good, but of the two films, I prefer the 1957 film.

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yea, i don't mind a remake of a less-than-famous movie.

it's when you start remaking classics (like Pyscho) that it get's annoying and unneccesary.
Both versions end up being good, but of the two films, I prefer the 1957 film.

I wouldn't go so far as to call both films "good" -- certainly aspects of each are praise-worthy -- but as far as that goes, I agree.
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