3:10 to Yuma | Columbia Pictures | Delmer Daves | 1957
I’m working on a big ol’ essayish thing about the spreadsheet virus (with which I am afflicted), but lately, fortunately, that virus has grown benign in me (thanks to be life changes comin’ round the bend?) over the last few weeks. So I have decided, while cleaning out my apartment, that the best way to relax in the midst of so much tumult is to re-watch some old favorites!
And so today I re-watched 3:10 to Yuma! And it was greeeeeeeeat!
Firstly, beleaguered de-masculinized cowpoke moroseness, as cleft into the immortally craggy, lopsided, misshapen face of the perennially under-appreciated Van Heflin, has never seemed more vivid (or even present) to me in any other movie. Cuz most Western movies are about marshals and outlaws, not the ordinary dead-end ranchers building their Biblical house on the unstable sands of frothing frontier frenzy! Glenn Ford plays the role of the Western’s archetypal charisma-peddler (with a ruthless condescension that’s also, weirdly, gentle? cuz he’s also, in his way, a beleaguered cowpoke himself, who’s gotta feel bad for a guy who wasn’t even blessed with charisma enough to compensate his raw luck), in contrast to whom hangdog Heflin slouches increasingly toward frigidity.
And because the whole meaty expanse of silent tension that the whole film is founded on is, well, silent, you get the full seldom-accessed soundbank of creaks and whistles and gusts and raps that would comprise the actual lonesome monotonous aural backdrop to the painstakingly lonesome monotony of Western existence. This is a movie that’s all about being an Every Man in a genre that never gives its characters the chance to be Every Men cuz they’re too busy laying down the whole dadgum civilization of Every Men to come! Sadsacks stewin’ in the Western sun, parched for the elixir of life!
And speaking of the sun, those interiors where it’s hard-lighting but not hard enough to register anything remotely nighttime shadowy chiaroscuro–like so distinctly the flavor of being inside on a hot sweltering day…Charles Lawton Jr., you godsend you!