For Reel

3:10 to Yuma (1957)
July 28, 2016, 6:37 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Delmer Daves
2.5 Stars
310 to YumaAlong with High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma became one of the defining films in a decade that sought to elevate the western above its supposedly simple roots and into something more grounded in complex character psychologies and social realism. Heroes and villains were no longer as clearly distinguished, and rather than the Old West serving as the setting where honor was upheld and alliances were unbreakable, in the 1950s the west becomes an entirely isolating environment defined by self-interest. Whereas Delmer Daves made a terrific argument for the “new” western in the previous year’s Jubal (which transplanted a Sirkian psychosexual melodrama into a western setting), 3:10 to Yuma never feels anything less than strained. Despite the drive towards realism, an overbearing score evokes a pompous grandiosity that Daves is unable to resist steering clear of. Moreover, as beautifully composed as many of the images are, the visual strategies within a scene is often a mess—due to jarring cuts and poorly conceived angle choices, it is frequently disorienting trying to spatially relate characters to one another and their surroundings. As with the worst tendencies of Stanley Kramer, Daves matches his social messages with a need for audio-visual “importance”, playing up a desired level of prestige that lacks the resonance of the supposedly dated westerns of years past.

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