3:10 to Yuma: Criterion Collection (Blu-ray)

October 22, 2014 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Based on the short story by Elmore Leonard, 3:10 to Yuma tells the story of an outlaw named Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) who is captured and is to be transferred to Yuma prison. A rancher, Dan Evans (Van Heflin) reluctantly agrees to help transfer him there. Evans sees this as his only option since he’s in desperate need of $200 in order to buy his ranch a little more time. A drought has nearly bankrupted Evans. Dan and a few other men round up and travel to Contention as they wait for the train to arrive that will take Wade to prison. The plot is relatively simple, but the tension slowly builds as Ben and Wade are hold up in a hotel room as they await the train. Both men know that Wade’s men are catching up to them, and the situation doesn’t look good for Evans. It doesn’t take long for Ben Wade to bargain with Dan and try to offer him more money to let him go rather than try to get him on the train. Both of the lead actors are perfectly cast and both characters are interesting and well developed.

Yuma holds up surprisingly well for a film that’s over 50 years old. Many are probably more familiar with the 2007 remake starring Russel Crowe and Christian Bale. The overall story remains in tact in both versions, but they’re both a good bit different as well. For example, this film is much leaner than the remake and puts the two men in the room together much sooner. Whereas the remake put much more emphasis on the journey and certainly Wade’s outlaw gang. Lastly, the endings of both films are drastically different. I think I prefer the ending to this version, but am a bit partial to the remake. Still, both versions more than hold their own and are very worth watching. One thing about the film is the uncertainty of how the events will unfold. Even as the two men grow a bit closer, we’re never sure if or when Wade will snap. He seems to have a respect for Evans, but his best interest is also a priority. This only adds to the film. Whichever version you prefer, the film is definitely worth watching and is a great addition to one’s collection, preferably right beside the remake. It shows that sometimes a good story is more important that endless effects and gun fights.

Video: How’s it look?

The transfer was created from a 4K scan (this is confirmed via the booklet included in the package). The Black and White film never looks short of amazing. Details are strong throughout without any noticeable flaws such as grain or any other artifacts. Details on faces, guns, and all kinds of objects are evident throughout. Criterion is usually pretty consistent so this should come as no surprise. The film has a 1.85: ratio and is AVC encoded. Fans will be more than pleased.

Audio: How’s it sound?

We get a DTS 5.1 remix as well as the original mono track. I opted for the former. Don’t expect an overly robust track, however. The surrounds only kick in on occasion, but the dialogue is always clear and concise. There’s a nice crisp sound to the track. I sampled some of the mono track and it’s still impressive, but I think the 5.1 is simply more ideal. Fans will be delighted to have both tracks.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, this disc comes up a bit short in terms of extras. What we get are two worthwhile extras, but I wish something more in depth was included. There’s also the usual booklet included, which is always a bonus in my opinion.

  • Elmore Leonard Interview – This goes for a little over 13 minutes and includes some very useful notes. Leonard talks about the inspiration to the story as well as a mix of other topics. I particularly liked when he touches on the ending to the remake and how he asked the screenwriters why they wrote it that way. It’s very worth watching.
  • Peter Ford Interview – This goes for around 15 minutes and also features some good notes. He has some fond memories of his father and speaks about a few of his films, particularly the westerns.
  • Booklet – This features an essay by film Kent Jones. It also discusses the technical aspects of this release as well.

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