For most of its running time, Delmer Daves’ original 3:10 TO YUMA/’57 was a taut two-hander with Van Heflin and Glenn Ford playing psychological cat & mouse in a tense hostage meller. The action, when it finally happened as Heflin escorted his prisoner to the train station through a gauntlet of firepower, was both tremendously exciting and believable. James Mangold’s ruinously expanded version adds too many plotlines and plenty of action at regular intervals in an attempt to raise the stakes (and violence quotient) for a modern audience. With Christian Bale & Russell Crowe flattening out Heflin & Ford’s tasty characterizations, sub-textual flavorings get placed front & center, and the script’s tragic emendations feel unearned. Daves’ original, a sharp little morality tale that’s probably his best piece of direction, now groomed into the usual bloated Western gun-fest.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Mangold might have helped his cause with a role swap for Bale & Crowe.
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Our poster is the tipoff, it’s for original 3:10 from 1957.