El tren de las 3:10

El peso de la ley

Basada en un cuento de Elmore Leonard, la película de Daves se estrenó en 1957, tres años después de su publicación. Un granjero atraviesa una mala temporada por falta de lluvia. La banda de Ben Wade utiliza su ganado para perpetrar un asalto a la diligencia que lleva el dinero de los trabajadores del ferrocarril. El asalto está resuelto con un campo contracampo. La versión actual abusa de las balas y del vertigo. El espectador de antes no necesitaba tantos planos, y el espectador de hoy, creo, tampoco.

Delmer Daves, 1957
Glenn Ford (Ben Wade), Van Heflin (Dan Evans), Felicia Farr (Emmy), Leora Dana (Mrs Alice Evans), Henry Jones (Alex Potter, el borracho del pueblo), Richard Jaeckel (Charlie Prince), Robert Emhardt (Mr. Butterfield, dueño de la diligencia)
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Cuando el granjero (Van Heflin) va a recuperar su ganado le ofrecen escoltar al criminal al pueblo más cercano. Necesita los $200 y acepta. El western clásico no dedica ni un solo plano al trayecto. Cuando sale el sol, los buenos han llegado a Contention. El hombre honrado y el bandido miden sus fuerzas dentro del hotel. El bandido aprende que tipo de hombre es el granjero porque no abusa de ir armado.

Uno de los hombres de Wade corre a avisar a la banda antes de que llegue el tren. Son siete hombres armados, y se ensañan con uno de los escoltas, con Potter, el borracho del pueblo. Por eso el jefe del ferrocarril se da por vencido y le pide al granjero que vuelva a casa. Nadie se atreve a llevar a Wade al tren. Pero el granjero sigue adelante. Aunque ya tiene su paga, se juega la vida para hacer lo justo. Él solo contra siete hombres. La lección que le ha dado al forajido es que la ley no abusa de su fuerza y que no necesita premios.

Por eso, aunque Ben Wade se transforma en las dos versiones, viendo la antigua lo entendemos, viendo la moderna no.
New York Times. By BOSLEY CROWTHER. Published: August 29, 1957: COLUMBIA'S "3:10 to Yuma," which arrived at the Astor yesterday, follows substantially the same route as that memorable Western "High Noon," and it reaches its terminal situation in a remarkably similar way.
Of course, there are differences in details. The hero in this gritty Western film is confronted with the man he has to handle rather early along in the affair. This man is a smooth and smiling bandit who amiably taunts our nervous boy, tempts him with bribes and confidently warns him that the gang will close in for a rescue before the arrival of that jail-bound train. (In "High Noon," the "menace" was coming out of prison; in "3:10 to Yuma," he is going in.)
But for all that (and other varying details), the theme and the issues are the same—a man beset by doubts and lawless bullies has the courage to face responsibility. Under unmerciful tension, he awaits the showdown whistle of that train.
Vince Leo. Qwipster's: Evans faces a moral dilemma, as the chance of Wade actually ever making it to the train seem to be dwindling as the time inches forward to the deadline. While everyone bails out, and risking almost certain death, Evans must choose between doing what he feels is right and doing what he thinks is best for himself and his family.
Another film under the shadow of High Noon's enormous influence, and one of the best, 3:10 to Yuma has a fairly simple premise, but still remains quite immersive due to its concentration on the characters, especially in the psychological mind-games that a crafty outlaw plays on those around him to try to secure his release. The feeling of utter helplessness for law-abiding citizens when confronted with unscrupulously bad men is all encompassing, as we wonder if Evans will compromise his virtues and sense of duty when everyone, including the man who initiates the transfer, wants out of the deal.
I didn't quite understand why Wade's gang doesn't just wait for him to get on the train, as it would seem much simpler to either get him to jump off at some point, or to attack it and get it to stop. In fact, there are several such moments where I wondered why they weren't more aggressive about saving their man, particularly in a finale where they employ a strange strategy of trying to pick him off from a sizable distance (if you're going to endanger the life of your boss by taking potshots, why not just rush they guy?). The strengths of the film lie in the psychological drama, and not in the plausibility of the events, so to properly enjoy the film, you just have to accept that once Wade sets foot on the train, his life as a bandit is over.
Jay Seaver. Efilmcritic.com: It rather feels like his work, though. Wade is an amiable villain, smarter than most crooks, not really wishing his pursuers any harm. He makes friendly conversation with Evans before trying to escape, and when it doesn't work, he almost apologizes - he has to do it, you understand, and he'll do it again, although his first choice is to talk his way out of custody. Evans, meanwhile, seems like a much more conventional character, the family man who left to his own devices would live his life out without ever encountering danger, but rises to the occasion. There are hints that he's been more in the past, though - he's the first person the sheriff asks for help when it comes time to bring Wade to Contention, and his plans are well thought-out.
The movie is well thought-out too. Screenwriter Halsted Welles delivers a screenplay that holds together, using a lot of western conventions and stock characters but also trusting that the cast can sell Leonard's characters and situations without guns blazing. There are a few head-scratchers - Wade's gang seems to converge on Contention fairly quickly; either it's a larger gang that it first appears or they're keeping in touch through unseen means; Evans' wife Alice (Leora Dana) seems to follow him to Contention for no reason beyond being put in peril. Still, the faults in the screenplay seem to be only "somewhat unlikely", as opposed to crippling.
Donald Levit. Reel Talk: The enjoyment here that outweighs the derivativeness -- which is not necessarily a bad thing, anyway -- comes in the dialogue and relationship developed between outlaw and rancher. Pleasant-faced clean-shaven Ben toys with his adversary, confident he will break from nerves if not greed. During their extended screen time alone in the hotel’s 207 bridal suite, the bandit sparkles with dry wit -- anticipated by an earlier handcuffed request that “you would [not] mind cutting the fat off [my meat], please” -- such as idly wondering about brides and the bed he lies on. But his pointed small talk invariably recurs to psyching the other into just a moment of conscious, even well-paid, dereliction of duty.
Time Out: The nerve centre is exposed in an early scene where Heflin, the dour family man careworn by responsibilities, watches as his wife and sons come under the spell of Ford's carefree charm: the conflict, ultimately, stems from each man's envy of what the other has.
Rob Nixon. TCM: The two men hole up in a hotel near the station where the smooth-talking criminal tries to mentally and emotionally manipulate his captor into letting him go. The film wrings a great deal of suspense from their battle of wills and from the increasing threat of the outlaw's gang who are on their way to Yuma.
Along with a handful of films by other directors, notably High Noon (1952), to which this story bears resemblance, Daves ushered in a new era in the genre with Broken Arrow (1950), starring Jeff Chandler as Apache warrior Cochise, one of the few films to treat Indians with dignity and understanding. Daves' films brought modern psychological themes, a breakdown in romantic stereotypes, and moral ambiguities to a genre often characterized by good guy/bad guy gunplay. He is ably assisted in bringing out the movie's gray-shaded themes and rising tension by the performances of Heflin, casting his solid American plainness in a role similar to the actor's work in Shane (1953), and Glenn Ford, playing against type as a villain, although a charming one who displays a measure of decency at the end.

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