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Turner Classic Movies
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1957 3:10 To Yuma VS 2007 3:10 To Yuma
Written by Diana Saenger   

310toyuma-gfrj.jpgAlthough it didn't receive any major awards the original 3:10 To Yuma is considered one of the best westerns of the 1950s. Glenn Ford starred as the self-assured villain Ben Wade and Van Heflin as the honorable and downtrodden Dan Evans who must escort Wade to the train to prison. The opening song, "3:10 to Yuma" by Ned Washington and George Duning and sung by full-of voice - Frankie Lane, talks about fate that awaits everyone involved.

310yuma-group.jpgNot since Unforgiven in 1992 has Hollywood made a contemporary western that was worth its dust. With Liongate's remake of 3:10 To Yuma, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, the Western is not only back, it may be one of the best movies of 2007. In the new release Russell Crowe nails the character of Ben Wade, a cocky, take-what-he-wants cowboy with a posse of men as loyal as terrorists are to the Taliban. He steals Dan Evans's (Christian Bale) cattle to use them to stop the Southern Pacific Railroad stage coach and rob it of its gold.

FAQ:    How Does The Original Compare To The 2007 Remake?

A. I re-watched the 1957 version the night after seeing the original and was surprised how few changes there were. The plot is almost 80 percent the same, and both films still maintain that psychological western theme. The whitty banter in the 1557 version by Halsted Welles between Ben and Dan, is even more brilliant by screenwriters Michael Brandt & Derek Haas in the 2007 version.

FAQ:     How do the two Ben Wades compare?

A.  Glenn Ford played the role just as he was expected. Cool, determined and even though we knew he was the villain, he wasn't a man you'd hate or outwardly fear. Russell Crowe takes those attributes and layers them with more interesting elements. Crowe has a sense of humor we rarely get to see in his films, and between the brilliant dialogue and his ability to change that serious face into one that looks mischievous and happy at that same time, is quite enjoyable. The role was also expanded a tad in some areas offering Crowe even more room to impress.

FAQ:     How about the two different Dans?

A.  Van Heflin couldn't have been a better Dan Evans in the early version. The role called for a straightforward man, feeling a hardship and dejection from his family who make whatever sacrifice was needed to correct the situations. The Dan Evans in the newer version also had more layers added. In addition to the initial problems in the earlier version, this Dan had also lost a leg in the Civil War, further complicating his completing his goals. No one could have done any better than Christian Bale. He's an actor that brings total believability to every role he tackles.

FAQ:     Was There Much Different in Ben's Love Interest?

A.    Not really. It's a very minor part. Felicia Farr was a very popular actress in the 1950s, She was sexy and alluring and her short screen time with Ford was believable. Vinessa Shaw has made more than 30 feature films, but is still relatively unknown. The main difference in the scenes with her and Crowe is that the times have changed and the script has them show more of their one-night stand than before.   One interesting note is that in the original, Ben asks if she has blue eyes when he cuddles up behind her. In the new movie it's green eyes.

FAQ:    How About Dan's Wife?

A. Leora Dana was predominately a television actress, but did find as Dan's wife. She played up the frustration and nervous quotients when needed, but was never the center of attention. While Gretchen Mol has basically the same role, her innate beauty is hard to ignore. Her keen curiosity about Ben is far more revealing in the new film, which upped Dan's annoyance of Ben even more. While Ben asks in both films if Dan, "Would mind cutting off the fat (of his steak), please. I don't like fat," Crowe delivers it with an amusing undertone you can't help but laugh at.

FAQ:     What Are Some of The Other Differences?

A.  When Dan confronts Ben in the bar after he's retrieved his cattle that Ben "borrowed" to stop the stagecoach so his gang could rob it; they have a short conversion about money. In the original version Dan does the asking, $2 a day for himself, and then his boys. Wade agrees and pushes it across the bar. Then Dan gets up enough nerve to ask for $2 more for making him nervous. In the 2007 version, it's Ben who first offers the money, but in the end it's still Dan who asks for the extra $2.

In the hotel room at Contention where Dan is holding Ben until time for the train, Ben is far more ornery in the 1957 version and at one point makes an attempt to jump Dan for his gun. That doesn't happen in the newer version where Ben is more psychotically intimidating, knowing that his squad of henchmen will do the dirty work.

Ben's right-hand man Charlie Prince is probably the biggest difference in the two films. Richard Jaeckel is hard core to look at and fits the limited role of the earlier version. In the newer film the role has more layers and Ben Foster nails it. He is definitely a man you love to hate.

FAQ:   Which Movie is Better?

A.  Well, that's a difficult question to answer, and one I suppose is in the eye of the beholder. The 1957 film was a favorite of its time. It ventured into new territory even for a Western. It still stands as an entertaining and well made classic. I can't deny that I was surprised how much I like the new 3:10 To Yuma. While bullets flying and men running seem to be a big part of this movie, it's really a match of wits and gumption that make the new version so engaging.

My advice - see them both and compare them on your own. Sony has recently released a remastered DVD of the 1957 version. I'm sure the 2007 version will play in the theaters for a while and then be available on DVD as well.

My review of 3:10 To Yuma 1957

My review of 3:10 To Yuma 2007

 



                       

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