I usually hate when classic movies are remade. Hate. These classic films are great the way they are and do not need to be told again. But on the slim occasion that a cast and director come together and do a great classic film justice, I do take notice.

Such is the case with the 2007 remake of the 1957 western classic 3:10 to Yuma.

The plot is rather simple. Glenn Ford is the charismatic outlaw Ben Wade who has been captured by local authorities in a small town. Van Heflin is Dan Evans, a struggling rancher who takes on the challenge along with the marshal and deputies to get Wade out of town and onto the 3:10 train to Yuma prison before Wade’s gang can catch up and rescue him.  Evans is selfish is his motives though; Mr. Butterfield, owner of the stage coaches that keep getting robbed by Wade and his gang, offers to pay Evans the then-large sum of $200 to help out.

Ford and Heflin really are paired well in this film. As you watch, you see that, for a rougish outlaw, Wade is quite the charmer. His ultimate downfall is the pretty bartender, played in 1957 by Felicia Farr. After robbing the Butterfield stage, Wade’s gang ride into the nearest town for a drink. They plan to meet up in Mexico to split up their loot. Wade stays behind for awhile to consort with the bartender. The marshal and his men catch Wade as he is leaving. They realize that they have to get Wade out of town quickly before his gang can regroup.

The marshal, Evans, and the other men in charge of keeping Wade prisoner make it to Contention, but the gang is not far behind them. They make threats to destroy the whole town if Wade is not released. As they wait for the clock to strike 3:00, tensions mount and the men keeping Wade one by one decide they have a better chance of remaining alive if they back out. Mr. Butterfield, who has been along for the ride, even offers Evans the money he promised if he would go home.

Along the way, the character of Dan Evans starts to develop a stubborn optimism. Even when all the odds are against him, he still believes he can get Wade to the station. It may be because he is also desperate to prove his worth. In the beginning, it is all about the money he needs to keep his ranch alive. But after awhile, duty overrides common sense.

One of my favorite lines from the first version is when the marshal is asking for volunteers to bring Wade in. One of the men asks “volunteers for what?” And the marshal replies that he’s not saying what for.

3:10 is a solid classic with some of the best of the western genre. I was glad to see that the recent version used much of the same dialogue and classic lines from the original. The great one-liners helped shape the Wade character and made moviegoers want to root for him and his cocky attitude.

The 2007 remake really does represent the original well. In James Mangold’s updated version, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale star as Wade and Evans respectively. They both bring a little color to the characters formerly portrayed.

Although Ford’s Wade may not be as flashy and colorful as Crowe’s, Ford still brought a charm and devil-may-care attitude to character. He made Wade his own outlaw first.  But I will say that I liked Crowe’s portrayal as well; he is naturally charismatic and makes it easy to believe that his men follow him. Bale adds an extra dimension of desperation to Evan’s character. He is willing to do something risky to save his ranch and his family, but at the end he wants to do what is right to prove that he can.

For the most part the plot flow remains the same. The time Wade and Evans spend in the hotel room in Contention waiting on the train to arrive is longer in the original. The have more dialouge then than in the later version. Their relationship develops more on the road to Contention in the Bale/Crowe version.

Perhaps the biggest difference is the very end. I hesitate to give it all away. Let’s just say that both ways Wade makes it onto the train to Yuma prison; one time with Evans and the other time without.

One thing that is markedly better about the remake is the additional screen time for Wade’s second Charlie, played  in ’07 by Ben Foster. Foster’s character is really one you love to hate. His outlaw is mean and ruthless and is a great secondary character.

Both of these films are great additions to the western genre and the ’07 version’s costumes and scenery are fantastic. The roles may have been unusual for the non-Americans Crowe and Bale, but they adapted to the characters very well.

Well, clearly I enjoyed both of these films. Here are some photos and clips for you to watch and compare on your own. I would truly encourage you to take the time to give both a viewing.

P.S. The remake has one of the coolest posters ever>

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