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3:10 to Yuma (1957) Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 5 Matt Hough

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Posted May 11 2013 - 05:47 PM

3:10 to Yuma (1957) Blu-ray Review

One of the great psychological westerns of the 1950s, Delmer Daves’ 3:10 to Yuma features a slowly ascending, tension-filled story performed by two stars doing some of the finest work of their careers in a movie that is as much about the vagaries of the mind and the heart as it is about shootouts or jail breaks. With the steady, solid craftsmanship of one of cinema’s most under-heralded directors, 3:10 to Yuma is as memorable in its own way as the more celebrated High Noon from a few years earlier in the decade.


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Studio: Criterion

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, English PCM 1.0 (Mono)

Subtitles: English SDH

Rating: Not Rated

Run Time: 1 Hr. 32 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

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Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 05/14/2013

MSRP: $39.95




The Production Rating: 5/5

After stagecoach robber Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) is captured away from his gang, stagecoach owner Mr. Butterfield (Robert Emhardt) offers $200 for men who will transport the criminal to a nearby train depot and put him on the train to Yuma where he can face trial. Desperately in need of the money to save his faltering, drought-plagued ranch, Dan Evans (Van Heflin) along with town drunk Alex Potter (Henry Jones) agrees to the job knowing that once the gang learns of Ben’s whereabouts, they’ll be on his trail. While secreted in a hotel awaiting the arrival of the 3:10 train, Ben begins his own form of psychological warfare on Dan using every possible argument and bribe trying to persuade him to let him go and thus free himself from the superior numbers of Ben’s gang who are without doubt on their way to rescue him.

Adapted from Elmore Leonard’s story, Halsted Welles’ script doesn’t waste a minute of the film’s lean 92-minute running time. As the hours click down to minutes, Ben never loses his cool while Dan agonizes with his decision knowing he has a wife (Leora Dana) and two sons back home who are depending on him for survival. And once the gang arrives and the odds change deftly into Ben’s favor, the tension mounts unmercifully with Delmer Daves’ crisp, efficient direction and the superb performances of all of the principals tying the audience's emotions into knots. Daves uses a variety of shots to cover both the physical and psychological action: either from high above for showing the locales of the various subjects in the drama (the opening stagecoach robbery sequence is brilliantly composed for the screen and shot with great economy but with no loss of interest for the viewer) or in intense close-ups as we read every thought that flickers across the faces of both Ben and Dan. There are plenty of surprises for first-timers to the movie (and those coming from the 2007 remake can anticipate quite a different ending if somewhat less violent action), but the film plays just as wonderfully on repeated visits as we see wheels turning in the minds of all of the participants as the action unfolds.

Glenn Ford had his choice of roles and chose the outlaw, a wise decision since he plays the part with striking shades of gray: bursting with confidence but not with reckless bravado and rather than as a cold-hearted villain and thus actually gets the audience on his side on occasion. Van Heflin, often playing the honorable man forced into untenable situations that he must struggle to overcome, scores another career high here. Henry Jones as the town drunk who sobers up rather quickly with the daunting task at hand earns deserved character points while Richard Jaeckel as Ben’s right-hand man shows even early in his career the volatile firecracker personality that often made him a movie standout. As the two women most affected by the events of the story, Felicia Farr as a barmaid who has a brief liaison with Ben and Leora Dana as Dan’s wife Alice both acquit themselves wonderfully despite their only peripheral roles in the drama that’s occurring.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film’s original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. As another of the masterful restorations by Grover Crisp, this is one of the strongest black-and-white transfers yet available on Blu-ray. Sharpness is exemplary with acres of detail to be seen in desert foliage, clothes, hair, and skin. The grayscale and contrast levels are perfection with not a particle of an artifact anywhere to be seen. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The disc offers the viewer a choice of audio encodes: PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) and a repurposed DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix. I listened to about half of the movie with each choice, but I much preferred the uncompressed mono track. It seemed more suited to the film and actually offered stronger, more vivid fidelity. Dialogue in both is crisp and clean and never overpowered by sound effects or George Duning’s beautiful, haunting score with special mention going to Frankie Laine’s wonderful rendition of the title song (and that’s the voice of Norma Zimmer singing it later in the film which leads to a discussion between the two men of the importance of women in their lives). In the lossless surround mix, there is very nice spread of the music across the fronts with some spill into the rears and some very light but still noticeable ambient sounds in the rears as well.



Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

Elmore Leonard Interview (13:01, HD): conducted in 2013, the famous writer of westerns and other genre pieces talks about his original story and the changes made for the two movie versions as well as discussing his early career as a writer.

Peter Ford Interview (15:04, HD): the son of Glenn Ford and musical star Eleanor Powell, Peter Ford discusses his father’s life and film and television career and the difficulties of growing up the son of a Hollywood star in this 2013 interview.

18-Page Booklet: contains cast and crew lists, some excellent stills from the movie, and critic Kent Jones’ celebration of director Delmer Daves and some of his more renowned films.

Timeline: can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc and the title of the chapter you’re now in. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

3:10 to Yuma is a western not to be missed. Those who think High Noon is the only great film to feature a countdown to a showdown need to experience this great piece of work from director Delmer Daves and the masterful performances of Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Highly recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 5 Russell G

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Posted May 13 2013 - 12:28 PM

Sad there isn't better extras for this one, but it sounds like Criterion did right once again. Thanks for the review!



#3 of 5 Moe Dickstein

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Posted May 14 2013 - 09:29 AM

They have a lot of Sony titles to get through...
Yes, these strange things happen all the time - PT Anderson, Magnolia

#4 of 5 PaulDA

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Posted May 14 2013 - 03:10 PM

Yet another Criterion to add to my shelf. I have the DVD but I can easily justify an upgrade here.


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Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#5 of 5 Robert Crawford

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Posted June 07 2013 - 06:39 PM

What a beautiful looking disc and a presentation that Mr. Crisp and his team over at Sony should be proud of.  I almost had tears in my eyes as I viewed this excellent film tonight with a video and audio presentation that matched the excellence of the film. 


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