Another Ride on the 3:10 to Yuma

The Enigmatic Ben Wade

Ben WadeLast month I spoke of grand plans for doing follow-up reviews of certain movies so that my initial reactions could go up faster. I still really like that idea, but it turns out that once I spill my guts, I’m usually eager to move on to the next movie. It’s harder to get up the motivation to work previously tilled soil I guess.

Anyway, I saw 3:10 to Yuma again this weekend and it’s stirred up my thinking all over again. Since I’d always planned to return to Yuma and since I’m currently gagging on a review of another western as we speak, the time feels right to go for a little freestyle writing. Maybe at least it’ll help me clear away some of the cobwebs and with a bit of luck it might even be interesting.

What follows is a loosely structured, free-form ramble going over some of the questions and answers I have about the movie. Consider it thinking out loud…with a keyboard. I’m not asserting any kind of an expert opinion here. This is not intended to be an air-tight, carefully worded and structured thesis paper. It’s like I’m having a conversation over coffee with friends…except I’m alone…and actually I’m drinking tea. Still, I encourage anyone and everyone to shoot me down or otherwise add their two cents, either in the comments or behind the scenes through the contact page.

I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie and what follows will probably be jam-packed with large, unidentified spoilers. If you haven’t seen it, well first of all you should because it’s pretty good, but most importantly you should stop reading. Right now. There is nothing interesting here if you aren’t already familiar with what happens in the movie. This will just ruin it for you. I’m serious. Nothing good can come of it. Scram. Beat it.

If you have seen it…well then, read on…

As I said in my initial review (is it bad form to continually refer to links on your own blog??), I had some significant problems with 3:10 to Yuma, especially relating to the behavior of Russell Crowe’s outlaw character Ben Wade. He was built up to be this wily criminal, but many of his actions were pretty foolish. They feel plot contrivances necessary to moving the story along, but not justified by what we know about the character. At the time I wrote the original review, I’d resolved most of my concerns, but now I’m not so sure. Frankly, I’m still not entirely satisfied. It’s kind of a big deal. It’s the difference between a 4-star review and 3-stars.

10 to YumaMy first question, and I remember asking it while the movie was still playing is: Why didn’t Russell Crowe kill Christian Bale and his sons as soon as it was discovered the rancher had stumbled across their crime in progress? He’d just killed one of his own men so it’s not like he was the sentimental sort. Why go to all the trouble of taking their horses and then leaving them further down the road? Why leave living witnesses? This is the first action in a string of actions that seem to indicate Ben Wade isn’t a very smart criminal. Yet a dumb criminal isn’t a criminal for very long and Wade has clearly managed to make a career of it. Something else has to be at play here.

Next, how/why the hell did he let himself get caught so easily? He knew the law was going to show up sooner or later, yet he was content linger with the barmaid. It’s true, the barmaid was a certified hottie, but this isn’t the kind of behavior that keeps a career criminal out of trouble. Besides, Ben doesn’t seem like a man who’d have much trouble finding women to sleep with him. Also once the law finally shows up, he hardly puts up a fight. He almost gives up willingly. At the time I even remember thinking it was all part of some larger scheme yet to be revealed. When the end credits rolled, it didn’t seem like there was a master plan, but looking back now I think there was even if Ben Wade was sort of writing his script as he went along.

Let me back track a little here and examine the characters. I think it’s interesting to look at the outlaw Ben Wade and the rancher Dan Evans as two opposites. They’re not necessarily two sides of the same coin (maybe they are, I don’t know), but they’re definitely two men running on parallel tracks going in opposite directions. They’re both family men, Dan has his wife and kids and Ben has his gang to which he’s almost a father figure. Where Ben is surrounded by sycophants, Dan has little respect from himself and none from his family. “I’m tired of the way my boys look at me and I’m tired of the way you don’t,” he says to his wife at one point. Dan has been kicked around and is at his lowest point, staring the final failure of his ranch in the face. Ben has also had a hard life, but he’s at the top of his game. He’s the anti-Dan and what we have is story of the man with nothing to lose vs. the man with nothing left to gain.

Ben Wade is the latter and I now believe that his driving motivation is boredom or the avoidance thereof. His life is no longer a challenge. He’d rather sit around drawing pictures of birds than rob another stage coach (he’s doing just that and is visibly annoyed when the former is interrupted by the latter in the form of partner Charlie Prince at the beginning of the movie). It’s a criminal life that Dan has created for himself and it’s a criminal life that he’s sort of trapped in. He has to go ahead with the robbery. If he shows weakness, the gang will turn on him, but already I think he wants out. He just has to find a way.

In the mean time, the best he can do is to try and keep the challenge interesting. He has to keep raising the bar, increasing the level of difficulty. It’s a way to make work fun again. It’s true, the smart play would’ve been just to kill Dan Evans and be done with it, but I think there’s something interesting to Ben about this lowly rancher. In a way, Dan is a twisted reflection of Ben himself and maybe he sees that. Or maybe he’s just fascinated by this stubborn man who is brave enough or foolish enough to look a killer in the eye and ask for his cattle back. Either way, letting the rancher live makes the game a bigger challenge and it turns out Ben Wade really is just playing a game. He isn’t fighting for survival, he’s fighting off boredom. Plus he’s an artist and in this game, style points count.

That also explains for me why he essentially allows himself to be caught. Making love to the beautiful barmaid is another way of stopping to smell the roses or study the birds. He’s allowed an opportunity to stop and enjoy life and, in the process, he ups the ante on the game he’s playing. Besides, he knows full well his gang will spring him anyway. Getting caught isn’t that big of a deal. He also knows if he gives up quietly he won’t be killed on the spot for, as McElroy observes: “everyone in this shit piss little town will be dead by morning.”

Also, looking back, I don’t think Ben ever kills a man for pure survival. It’s almost always out of anger or annoyance. First he kills his own man for not doing his job. True, he also kills the Pinkerton man, but that was just business. Next he stabs Tucker in the throat with a dinner fork. It’s not a bid to escape, it’s out of revenge because the guy is an asshole chump who stole Ben’s horse and then won’t shut up. Next he kills McElroy which does turn into an escape, but it also happens at a moment when McElroy is needling him about his mother. Again it’s as much about revenge as survival and again it’s about style points. The escape is simply a bonus reward.

Charlie PriceI need to backtrack again and shift gears. In the course of the movie I think Ben’s interest in Dan starts as curiosity and curiosity blooms into fascination. Ultimately, Ben is challenging Dan as much as he’s challenging himself. He’s giving Dan the opportunity to redeem himself in his son’s eyes, but he’s going to make him work like hell for it. That’s partly why Ben doesn’t call off his gang at the end. First he tests Dan with money and now he wants to see if he’ll stand up to a hail of bullets. Finally, when Dan passes the test, I think Ben actually admires him a little and is maybe even envious of Dan’s new father/son relationship. It shows how hollow Ben’s own relationship with Charlie Prince really is. In a way, the fortunes of the two men have been reversed. Dan is now on top and Ben is at the bottom.

Another word about why Ben didn’t just surrender. He’d already said at one point in the movie that in order to hold reign over his gang of outlaws, he’s always got to be the toughest, meanest sonofabitch in town. Standing down would be a weakness and would probably spell his doom. Ben may have grown to admire his opposite, but he’s still an outlaw. He’s still trapped in the life he’s made. Throwing up his hands and surrendering isn’t really an option.

Ok, so why does Ben murder his own gang at the end? That’s a good question. Have you ever done a puzzle and you think you’ve got all the pieces in their proper places only to find the last one doesn’t fit and you realize you took a wrong turn somewhere? That’s kind of where I stand with the finale of 3:10 to Yuma. I think I can put the last piece in place, but I’ll admit right now I’m not completely satisfied.

Essentially, I think Ben kills his own gang partly out of pure temper. He’s already tired of his life with these men and the senseless killing of Dan, the first man he’s ever had any respect for, pushes him over the edge. It’s not the first time in the movie he acts rashly out of anger. Stabbing Tucker in the throat for example merely earned him a beating and the loss of a weapon he could’ve later used to make a real escape. So the murder of his gang wasn’t calculated and it wasn’t smart, but it kind of fits with his character.

I don’t know. In the end I find myself going back and forth over a movie that maybe isn’t intended to be thought about too carefully. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. Ultimately, the movie entertained the hell out of me and sometimes maybe that should be enough, even for a 4-star movie.

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36 thoughts on “Another Ride on the 3:10 to Yuma

  1. Interesting take on the movie. I felt like a lot of little plot developments were somewhat convoluted, in fitting with the stylistic conceits of the genre’s history, so I just ignored my rationale mind and enjoyed the movie. It’s like Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark in the respect that the characters and the storytelling were entertaining enough that I could easily ignore the obvious weaknesses in the plotting.

    As for Ben, I assumed he killed his own gang member to protect the pecking order. He spares Dan because he admires the guy’s pluck, he’s probably not a killer of children, and killing a civilian is a lot more hassle than killing a member of your own gang or a mercenary.

    I felt that he and Dan had an almost immediate kinship simply because Dan had the skill and steel to be Ben but fate had left him with a life that Ben (arguably) admires and covets. When Dan’s heroism and blinding need for respect pushes him to take Ben all the way to the train, Ben admires Dan so much that he kills his own men out of frustration, anger, and ultimately because it’s time to move on. He’s chosen to accept his fate simply out of respect for Dan’s sacrifice (and probably a little admiration for Dan’s son).

    But your post just brings to mind the aspects of the movie’s plotting that I found incredibly weak, such as why, after Ben kills Tucker, don’t they just break both his wrists? He’s clearly extremely dangerous and yet they leave this guy intact and lo and behold, he kills yet another man the next morning and takes his gun. They only have to deliver him alive for trial, not with his flippers still working.

  2. Heh heh…flippers. I just had an M. Emmet Walsh flashback: “So, now he’s got two busted flippers. So, I says to him: ‘Creighton,’ I says. ‘I hope your wife really loves you, because for the next five weeks, you can’t even wipe your own goddamn ass.'” (cackles)

    I think it’s possible to enjoy 3:10 without giving it a moment’s deeper thought. It completely worked for me on a surface level, but the more I began to think about the parallels between Ben and Dan, the more interesting it became to me.

    I still tend to think, despite McElroy’s comment, in real life they would’ve just killed Wade on the spot, but whatever.

    Interestingly, the movie is still chugging along at the box office and I’ll bet it does well on DVD.

  3. Hey, stop Bogarting that cup of joe, CJ. And let me offer some thoughts.

    Question 1:

    There was no need to kill the witnesses. The train company already knew who was robbing them on this occasion in advance (hence the trap). Also, Wade was going down for any number of crimes as soon as he was tried – more witnesses would have no bearing on the outcome. He also didn’t know that Bale and his family would play a role in his future capture and failed transportation to the authorities. His behavior didn’t indicate an indiscriminant killer. There was simply no profit in disposing of Dan and his boys.

    Question 2:

    I saw Wade’s placing himself in jeopardy as an expression of his willingness to allow for unforeseen challenges and complications (‘the best he can do is to try and keep the challenge interesting. He has to keep raising the bar, increasing the level of difficulty’). Hanging around like he did was a response to his metaphysical ennui and the nihilism of psychopathy.

    So much of the richness and meaning of human experience comes from our ability to be emotionally attached to and moved by each other. He didn’t experience any real depth of attachment to anyone. Psychopaths seek rewards that feed their narcissism (sense of being special). As you pointed out, Wade’s near complete mastery over his world probably left him needing to find more demanding ways of proving himself – to feed his sense of being exceptional/the relative inferiority of others (even when they have the upper hand). ‘The man with nothing left to gain’ wanted to play another “chess-game” to counter the sense of boredom.

    ‘They’re not necessarily two sides of the same coin (maybe they are, I don’t know), but they’re definitely two men running on parallel tracks going in opposite directions.’

    ‘In a way, Dan is a twisted reflection of Ben himself and maybe he sees that. Or maybe he’s just fascinated by this stubborn man who is brave enough or foolish enough to look a killer in the eye and ask for his cattle back. Either way, letting the rancher live makes the game a bigger challenge and it turns out Ben Wade really is just playing a game. He isn’t fighting for survival, he’s fighting off boredom. Plus he’s an artist and in this game, style points count.’

    So right CJ.

    There differences ran deep – and as such Dan was a natural source of curiosity and fascination for a detached observer of human behavior like Wade. Dan was deeply emotionally attached to his family, self-sacrificing, calculating without stifling instinct aligned to strong humanistic values, and recognizing that the meaning of his own life was fundamentally tied in with providing for his family. But they also shared qualities – courage, relentlessness, a clear-eyed ability to recognize the hypocrisies of the world’s institutions (State, big business as represented by the train company), and a need to prove their worth.

    ‘He has to go ahead with the robbery. If he shows weakness, the gang will turn on him, but already I think he wants out. He just has to find a way.’ This I don’t agree with so much. I think he could have killed them all at anytime – isn’t that what he did when the inclination to do so arose? I suspect that as bored with life as Wade was, being a regular citizen somewhere and drawing birds and whatnot would have soon seen him even more bored. Crime provided him with circumstances of heightened stimulation that no other endeavor was likely to, and it allowed him to indulge his curiosity about human behavior – to observe how others reacted under the pressure of the situations he created.

    ‘Also, looking back, I don’t think Ben ever kills a man for pure survival. It’s almost always out of anger or annoyance.’

    I agree with the first part. But I’m disinclined to frame him as someone who almost always kills out of anger or revenge. Killing someone out of anger or revenge generally requires an emotional intensity and loss of control that is off the meter (together with the possession of underlying attitudes and beliefs that endorse killing under circumstances that most of us would say could not possibly justify such behavior). Think about it, even at your most angry I don’t see you pulling a gun out of your pocket and killing someone and simply moving on with your life as if it were no big thing. Wade sometimes experienced some anger against those he murdered, but it was never of sufficient intensity to be the reason for killing. I think a clear case can be made for each murder being calculated, not indiscriminant or out of control. His murder of Tucker and to some extent McElroy were clearly tied in with them needling him. But his exacting revenge for their disrespect (something a narcissistic killer has little patience for) wasn’t out of control or overly emotional (his immediate response to each was to offer up wry self-amusing black humor).

    ‘need to backtrack again and shift gears….It shows how hollow Ben’s own relationship with Charlie Price really is. In a way, the fortunes of the two men have been reversed. Dan is now on top and Ben is at the bottom.’

    That whole paragraph was excellent, CJ. It rang true and really added a layer to my own take.

    ‘Essentially, I think Ben kills his own gang partly out of pure temper. He’s already tired of his life with these men and the senseless killing of Dan, the first man he’s ever had any respect for, pushes him over the edge. It’s not the first time in the movie he acts rashly out of anger. Stabbing Tucker in the throat for example merely earned him a beating and the loss of a weapon he could’ve later used to make a real escape. So the murder of his gang wasn’t calculated and it wasn’t smart, but it kind of fits with his character.’

    Well, you know I don’t buy the temper angle, or that he was necessarily tired of his criminal life (though I do agree he was profoundly bored with life). ‘..the senseless killing of Dan, the first man he’s ever had any respect for, pushes him over the edge.’ The possession of a high level of narcissism with a fundamental lack of empathy for others makes the depth of respect you describe extremely hard to achieve. I think he liked and respected Dan. And I agree that the actions of his gang in killing Dan displeased him. But to me their murder was simply another expression of that very first killing. They didn’t halt their fire when he ordered it. For all his charisma as a human being, he was lethally unforgiving of his men’s failure to following his orders. Others were instruments to him. Some were more interesting and some less. But either way, life simply moved on after their deaths along the same absurd and meaningless path.

    The thing about the devil (as a construct) is his ability to seem other than he is, to evoke a charismatic smokescreen that sees us seek to humanize him and mitigate his bad behavior. Remove Wade’s charisma and I think he’d be solely seen as the cold-hearted and calculated psychopathic killer he is. But this is just my take.

  4. Pleased you stopped by Sartre and delighted you’ve decided to weigh in. Let me take a break from the Darjeeling and Jesse James reviews to respond to some of the great things you have to say here.

    Question 1: I think also there would be no style points awarded for killing Dan. Though it would’ve been a simple matter to murder him and this would’ve ensured they couldn’t go for help before the gang could escape, but this way adds to the legend of Ben Wade which I imagine he’s quite fond of and always happy to elaborate on. He strikes me as the kind of character who would fancy himself a Robin Hood, not exactly stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but definitely in the gentleman bandit mode, killing only when it’s necessary.

    Question 2: interesting that you tie this to the emptiness he’d feel as a complete narcissist, incapable of genuine human attachment. And it leads into his fascination with Dan as a man who seems to be on the lowest rung of the ladder, but who is capable of all the things Ben isn’t in the form of his wife and children. Ben has kind of a sarcastic look on his face during the whole dinner sequence. I read it as him enjoying the fact that he was pulling a Shane and that Dan’s wife totally wanted him and his kids were in awe of him. The fact that Dan knew it made it even richer even if they both knew the wife wouldn’t leave Dan for the outlaw…just having her thinking about it was enough.

    And yet, looking back I wonder if there wasn’t a buried part of Ben that wished he could have these things that Dan had.

    I agree with you that Ben generally wasn’t acting out of temper. There was a viciousness, but it didn’t have the lack of control. Ben was always in control. There were people that needed killing and he was happy to do it, but if anything it was out of a sense of poetic justice. More style points.

    And I agree to say that Ben wants out of his criminal life is not correct. In fact I’d fully expect that once he escapes from prison, he’ll be right back at it. It’s all he knows and all he’s good at. I like your reasoning much better. He killed them because they didn’t do what he wanted them to do and, like all people in his mind, they were disposable.

    What’s interesting about your last thoughts about the devil is that, though he’s seduced to a degree, Dan sees the devil in Wade. He can talk to him like a man and even admire aspects of him, but he knows the guy is evil and deserves to be locked up…it’s just someone needs to stand up and do it and he’s decided to be that guy.

  5. Really enjoyed your response CJ. The “style” angle strongly fits as both a motivating factor and a useful device for manipulating others. It also fits very well with the narcissism. As you say he would like to see himself as the gentleman bandit or Robin Hood (he mentions early on how the train company, or is it government, exploit the farmers). He wants to ennoble himself, and is very good at creating the impression with others. ‘The fact that Dan knew it made it even richer even if they both knew the wife wouldn’t leave Dan for the outlaw…just having her thinking about it was enough.’ Totally agree. It’s a clever slant on the Shane dynamic that is consistent with the Wade character. I also think you raised another fine point with regards to Wade getting off on his sense of poetic justice. He was a stylist alright. His canvas was psychological and blood stained.

    Also I need to give credit to Rollerboy for first articulating the reason Wade killed his men that I presented here.

    Interesting, it never before occurred to me that he went as far as the prison. But now that you mention it I think you’re right to assume he did. Otherwise, where would be the challenge?

    You took my last thought and extended and deepened it beautifully.

    I think between us we’ve wrapped this baby up. Anyone out there want their script properly critiqued? Look no further than Cj, Rollerboy, Pierre, and myself.

  6. yee-ha! it’s the psychodeelio rodeo! whoa lil dawgy, I can’t lasso the motivations and wrangle the contrivances near as good as you cowpokes do 😉

    Here’s my much more superficial take. I gave up on expecting Ben Wade’s behavior to make any sense really early on. But it didn’t stop me enjoying the hell of the movie. Luckily I don’t need people to make sense before I can be fascinated spending time with them — or else I wouldn’t have any friends. To paraphrase one of those friends, I get enough of life’s chaos by living through it — I kinda have higher expectations for film and theater.

    When somebody is creating a world on screen or stage, I like to think that they’ll make an attempt to improve on real life (like, by having things make sense.) Greasing the gears of the Plot Machine with a lot of slippery motives might be tons of fun, but it falls just short of what I require from Art.

    Like I said, you guys have already done a great job trying to stay in the saddle through Ben Wade’s bucking bronco psycho show. You guys dug deep, and mined some amazing insight. I actually start having trouble up on the surface with the plot a long time before I start to try to analyze the character arcs.

    Like, is it just me being cynical and a spoil-sport to point out how really weird it was to watch Dan Evans high-tailing through streets and alleys on a wooden leg with barely a trace of limp? I know that modern prosthetics can turn amputees in bionic men, but I’m pretty sure the artificial limb technology of the 1800’s was pretty much a carved chunk of maple and a leather strap. Seriously, didn’t somebody pull that peg leg off of him at the beginning of the film like it was a wet sock?

    And here’s Ben Wade, who’s spent his entire outlaw career evading capture and running FROM the law — all of a sudden he’s running TOWARD that train like he’s worried he’s gonna miss a charming ironic trip on the Darjeeling Limited. This aint the Polar Express, mothafucka. You’re not riding the choo-choo to Santy Claus Land. It’s a one-way trip to prison, dude. Stop running to it. Sit your ass DOWN.

    If one guy in the whole town is trying to get me on a train, and I don’t wanna go, I just won’t get out of the bed. I’ll sit tight, thanks. What’s Dan gonna do? Carry Ben on his shoulders? (Though with that superhuman wooden leg, who knows?)

    ok, then there were two other cheap tricks at the end that were more worthy of an episode of an 80’s sit-com on Nickelodeon than a major grown-up Western.

    Firstly, every time I see somebody grow a halo at the mere glimpse of a crucifix, I throw up a little in my boots. Yeah right, because Ben Wade forgot all about religion until just that glorious moment of revelation. (I mean, you know, aside from using the Bible as a sketch pad). What is this? A hardcore revisionist western, or A Very Special Episode of ‘Blossom’?

    And lastly, the whistle for the horse to follow the train, which totally trashes any slim hope that Ben Wade has reformed or feels remorse or is born again. Anything we’ve invested in trying to wonder if he finally grew a heart — nevermind!

    After all that running around creation on wooden legs, killing your whole insane psychopathetic gang in cold blood, gunning down a good man in front of his son… it’s “hey! just kidding! lookie here! my pony is coming to get me. Sorry about the bullet holes!” Equus en Machina! hehe.

    How cute. Now we all get to wink and nudge each other on the way out of the theater. That ol’ rascal Ben Wade, aint he a card? He was keeping that pony as an ace up his sleeve the whole time! LOL. Don’t we feel silly for ever worrying?

    Pity about the dead daddy. Shame about the sheriff shoved over the cliff. Hell of a thing, all that killin’ and bloodshed. We find out in the last 30 seconds that the whole thing is just one big bloody Jackie Chan movie! yay! nobody has to go to jail after all. whew! that would be a bummer.

    But did any of this stop me from loving the movie and feeling psyched on adrenaline for hours after we left? Nope, not a bit. It’s just a movie, and it did what movies do. It provided some cheap bloody thrills. It’s not Unforgiven maybe. But I don’t feel like I wasted 8 bucks.

    I know, I know. I’m supposed to suspend disbelief or something… no problem! I never had much disbelief in the first place. I never do when the lights go down.

    And none of these picky gripes should hurt Yuma’s Oscar chances either, because it’s all too superficial and silly to be taken as serious criticism. Since when does Oscar give a fuck about logic?

    I’ll leave the genuinely impressive psychoanalysis to you smart guys

    I just wanna know where I can get me a magic wooden leg and a magic pony.

    (my first comment on your really wonderful site, cj, and I come around showing my butt and being a dick. Your essay was brilliantly laid out. I mean it. Here’s the thing though: I just spent all day inhaling tile adhesive fumes, and I’m feeling as irrational as Ben Wade right now. Maybe when I come down off Huff Mountain I can stop by again and offer some deeper thoughts, ok?

  7. Glad you stopped by Rollerboy, ass and dick and all.

    For the record, the pony business at the end didn’t trouble me at all. I’ve come around to Sartre’s way of thinking and I don’t think Wade was reformed at all.

    I enjoyed the wink at the audience for what it was, not unlike the rat at the end of Departed that bothered people so much…talk about taking a movie too seriously!

    As far as any kind of analysis goes, well sometimes it’s part of the fun. For the most part I’ll give a movie free reign to set up its world and amaze me with stories as long as it stays internally consistent to itself (yes I know you can’t hear explosions in the vaccuum of space, but in Star Wars you just CAN damnit), but when I feel a story is taking short cuts, it pulls me out of the experience and then I start asking questions and then the magic disappears.

    Go ahead and screw me, but tell you that you love me first, that’s all I’m asking.

    With 3:10, sometimes it felt like it wasn’t covering its tracks too well. You could see the man behind the curtain pulling levers and turning gears. I wanted to believe in the Wizard of Oz because it was so damn much fun, but I was troubled. So I talk. And I talk and I talk and I talk. And now I’m at peace. There is harmony in the universe (whether it makes any noise or not) and getting to that point was as enjoyable as watching the movie in the first place.

    At the end of the day, my gut tells me whether I liked a movie or not. The words just help me communicate why. Sometimes the words escape me (hard to believe, I know, but it’s true). Ask me why I loved the hell out of The New World for example and to this day I don’t think I could tell you. But I did, and in the end that’s all that really matters.

    Anyway, glad to hear from you and I hope you’ll find time to stop back again soon.

    And Sartre, that was fun. Exactly the kind of thing I had in mind when I tossed out the post. Thanks to you and Joel and Rollerboy for humoring me.

  8. Heh heh, Rollerboy, that was good. I hadn’t even thought about the whole pegleg, but you’re right. Wow, this is probably the first time I’ve ever noticed a huge, massive, gaping hole in Christian Bale’s method acting.

    But you know, if he had been hobbling along like Shorty the half-soldier from Good, Bad, and the Ugly, that whole chase sequence would have been WAY shorter.

  9. joel,

    Actually I can’t bring myself to blame Christian Bale. I think the last day of filming Mangold handed Bale some yellow pages.

    Mangold: “I’ve decided to give Dan a wooden leg.”
    Bale: “Fuck me! NOW you tell me?!”

    “Ben would’ve been carrying Dan to the train.”

    yes! cj! Now THAT’S an ending!

    I hope I made clear that I enjoyed the hell out of ‘3:10 to Yuma’ and I totally agree, cj, so long as the internal logic sort of works, I’m along for the ride.

    But I can’t wait for the DVD. I’m so sure there must be part of that hotel room sequence that’ll be revealed in the deleted scenes to explain why Ben was sketching Dan so lovingly (ala Leo-Kate in Titanic) Then the entire ending will make perfect sense

  10. It’s all sartre’s fault, just like it was Horton Foote’s fault that Geraldine Page won her Oscar (reference: Page’s acceptance speech). Pierre recently received a hot tip from sartre that 3:10 was being discussed over at CJ Way. That’s why I’m here. This is not to say I’ve never visited before. Reading CJ’s comments is always a delight. But now that I’ve been dragged into this, I can’t help but comment — something I’ve been reluctant to do in depth but feel compelled to do after having read all these thoughtful comments. Even though I’d prefer mine to be brief and succinct, I don’t think they will be, so fasten your seat belts (or garter belts, just in case Ian Sinclair is reading this — that’s an inside joke, sorry).

    First, I saw the original 3:10 on a Saturday night and the remake at noon the next day. So comparisons are inevitable. Next, I feel that 3:10 to Yuma is a great story — even epic — not to be taken lightly. Both versions are noble efforts that succeeded to some degree — each in its own way — and therefore worthy of in-depth discussion. Still, I hope someone does another remake and that they really do it right next time.

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, I feel the remake is an improvement, overall, from the original but that the original is superior in a couple of key ways. More later on that.

    I don’t consider this to be psychoanalysis as much as trying to read a film. I’ll begin by submitting my take on various aspects of the film:

    I believe that discussing Ben Wade with respect to narcissim is only part of the story and that Wade’s sexuality encompassed both women and men. I believe he had a sexual hold on Charlie Price and perhaps even some form of sexual contact with Price from time to time. I believe that when one considers this premise as likely or even possible, it’s easier to understand the film.

    What irritates me about the remake is that this aspect is all but ignored, leaving only the more observant (or gay) to speculate about. We’re given several hints but nothing obvious or conclusive. The original provides not only hints but also a big clue in the form of a scene that never made it into the remake. In the original, while Charlie Price has a drink at the hotel bar, the bartender makes it very clear while confronting Price and comparing him to a goodtime girl the bartender knew of in another saloon, another town, and another time. Scenes like that just didn’t happen in a 1957 western if not for a specific reason.

    I believe that all this talk about why Wade killed whomever boils down to the fact that he had his own code and set of beliefs, that he had longheld deep-seated anger and profound pain, and that his way of dealing was to lash out violently but in an outwardly controlled manner. (Leave the dirtier work for Charlie and the boys.) It was Wade’s way of avoiding his own self-destruction. And it was a lot more intense and profound than boredom or ennui.

    Art not only was his escape but represented the small part of him that wanted to create and produce rather than destroy or kill. If he drew birds (I can’t recall), that would seem to represent his desire to escape the life he was trapped in — even if it was partially his own doing. Deep down — very deep down — Wade was a moralist and idealist who got beat down, and his current lifestyle was his reaction to this. The pleasure he got (sexual or otherwise) from charming and controlling people was the opiate that made it possible for him to continue the hell of his life.

    I think he exacted violence only when it was necessary for his physical survival or in accordance with his personal moral code. And yes, CJ, avoidance has a lot to do with it.

    He was attracted to Dan at first out of curiousity, perhaps, but because Dan reflected what Wade once was — but Dan wasn’t as far gone as he.

    So when Wade hurt someone it wasn’t just about anger and annoyance. That’s just what was on the surface. This is about how his own pain and self-hatred affected his personal sense of justice.

    Wade is smart. Nothing he did arose from lack of intelligence or hot-temperedness. Thanks to Charlie, he has such control over his boys that he knows he’ll always get away. Any gang member who looks like a weak link is eliminated.

    But what Wade really wants is to really get away, to find a way out of this hell on earth. And Dan, as it turns out, is his ticket.

    In the hotel room, he tests Dan. He entices Dan to be more like the moral failure he has become. But Dan does not succumb. He earns Wade’s ultimate regard, a regard so strong that Wade invests his own failed hopes in him.

    The symbols of the Bible and crucifix are important, especially the latter with respect to the story’s climactic scenes. It’s not about religion, really, it’s just that the crucifix at that point is an excellent symbol to insert. And I don’t think it’s silly or saccharine or whatever to read it that way (I’m talkin’ to you, rollerboy.)

    Wade kills Charlie (and whoever else in his gang) because they killed Dan. And also because they’d have to be dead for him to make even the slightest change in his future.

    The film is unclear about whether Wade makes it to prison. If it were important for us to know, we’d know. What is important is that he whistles for his horse. And this is where the remake veers dramatically from the original. In the 1957 version, it’s clear that Glenn Ford’s character has changed, that he’s off to prison to atone for his sins, and that Dan (Van Heflin) triumphs and lives. It’s a payoff that the cynical remake doesn’t give us, in the process altering the theme of the remake, mitigating the notion that even the worst of us can be redeemed, and diminishing the emotional and moral impact of the story.

    Those are my brief comments.

  11. “With 3:10, sometimes it felt like it wasn’t covering its tracks too well. You could see the man behind the curtain pulling levers and turning gears. I wanted to believe in the Wizard of Oz because it was so damn much fun, but I was troubled.” — CJ Kennedy

    I forgot to add, CJ, that I agree with you about that. I think Mangold was trying too hard, and I also think that part of the motivation for it may have been commercial in nature. I suspect that’s why the screenwriters deleted the scene from the original about Charlie being a dancehall girl — commercial poison.

  12. I don’t have my Friday review up yet like I planned so I’m kind of tied up, but I wanted to say: welcome aboard Pierre and thank you for the commentary worthy of your reputation. As I said before, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was hoping for when I decided to run with further thoughts on the movie.

    More later on today….

  13. Every time I think I’m out other people’s comments pull me back in.

    Sorry for hogging this thread with long and regular comments, CJ.

    Isn’t it fascinating how we each have overlapping yet different takes on the film? All are well thought through and argued. But the reading I personally find hardest to get with is yours Pierre. I got a faint sense of a homoerotic subtext, but no more than is often present in filmic explorations of closeness (particularly when it is uneasy, or involves some degree of idolization) between male characters. Perhaps the constraints of my own orientation blind me to the deliberate intent on the creative team’s part to explore these themes and motivations. However, without having seen the original I suspect I’d have little trouble more readily reading it the way you describe. Many fine films of that time seemed all about presenting a subversive subtext. Taking the aspects of reality that were socially and politically censored and expressing them in a variety of ways, including through the fears and repressed motivations of characters in both genre (more commonly) and prestige films. Also, your reading of character motivation certainly fits with a psychoanalytical formulation of psychological reality that seemed more influential in the films of that era.

    I can enjoy well crafted psychoanalytical explorations in art. And can even be entertained by the most clunky and prosaic varieties (like Norma Bates in Psycho). But it’s not a brand of psychology I subscribe to professionally. And for me, the remake lends itself better to a more straightforward assessment of personality style based on what is known about the behavioral and cognitive features of psychopaths. There is plenty of compelling evidence that those assessed with the disorder as a group are fundamentally different from those who aren’t. In particular, the results of scanning brain activity and performance on cognitive tasks show that they process emotional information in very different ways from non-psychopaths. And certain behavioral consequences of this inevitably result, including their limited facility for emotional attachment. Because Wade’s behavior fits so well for me with the features of a psychopath his sexual orientation, even if it’s repressed, seems less necessary to understand his behavior. I’m certainly not saying you’re wrong, just trying to unpack our points of difference.

  14. Rollerboy, I didn’t notice the absence of a convincing limp and the presence of a crucifix inspired redemption moment – but I trust your observation because I know how adept you are at zeroing in on things like this.

    But the thought of their fleeting presence in the movie doesn’t bother me. And perhaps that’s why my mind didn’t immediately fix on them. With another film it might have, but I found Yuma too engaging and genuinely intriguing as a character puzzle. The action and style elements were a fun ride, but what I was locked into were the performances and characterizations of Bale and Crowe. Afterwards my wife and I chatted about the film for about two hours without breaking stride. And it seems I’ve still got plenty to say about it here. Like CJ said, part of the immense enjoyment of the film experience comes through the subsequent uncovering of what made a film personally work or not work. And there is no better way of clarifying and refining ones own thoughts then having super smart and passionate film buffs like my wife and you guys to compare notes with.

    ‘If one guy in the whole town is trying to get me on a train, and I don’t wanna go, I just won’t get out of the bed. I’ll sit tight, thanks. What’s Dan gonna do? Carry Ben on his shoulders? (Though with that superhuman wooden leg, who knows?)’

    Wade’s decision to run through the lethal streets with Dan didn’t seem off to me. The key was the scene where Wade is choking him (I hope I have this in the right order). Wade had his fill of the game. The boy he wanted to romanticize him as the gentleman outlaw was gone. Dan called on instinct and native intelligence as he faced death to say perhaps the only thing that would flip Wade into the game again – he appealed to Wade’s curiosity and sense of black absurdist humor. And the passage to the train offered a further challenge for Wade, and another opportunity to observe/measure Dan under a situation of extreme stress.

    If I’m right then the film makers asked too much of the audience. There were too many nods to conventional endings that would see the villain support the hero through being inspired by his courage and moral strength. And as a result achieve some measure of redemption. But by allowing for this conventional interpretation of the ending they risked disappointing many. Those who wanted to believe the best of Wade, or at least thought the film’s internal logic called for Wade to genuinely hand himself in, would have been disappointed by the whistle. Those that thought Wade was nothing more than a charismatic psychopath would have been unsettled by the apparent change of direction towards a conventional ending, only to wonder why the film wanted it both ways by using the whistle to finally show that he wasn’t in fact moved to self-sacrifice by Dan’s courage and values. So yes Rollerboy I think the end was mishandled in some ways.

    Thanks CJ for stimulating us to re-visit Yuma with your thought provoking post. I’ll do my best to finally zip it now.

  15. sartre, my comments regarding any homosexual undertones in the remake stem from what I know from the original version. It’s quite possible that, had I not seen the original, I would not have so assuredly developed such a theory.

    Further, I am not necessarily suggesting (with regard to the remake) that Ben Wade had repressed homosexual feelings — or any homosexual impulses for that matter. What I do suggest is that — on the basis of the original screenplay — Ben Wade allowed himself to participate in some way in a relationship with Charlie Price in which both parties were, at minimum, aware of homosexual impulses. I have no doubt that Wade was aware of Charlie’s attraction to him and that Wade played along to some degree in order to have his own needs satisfied — sexual or not. Whether that dynamic manifested in actual sexual behavior is unclear but ultimately irrelevant. Either way, though, I believe that understanding this aspect of Wade’s nature, together with the nature of his appeal to Charlie Price and other individuals of both genders and how Wade used that power to ensure his safety and ease his pain, provides a key to better understanding the film and its messages.

    It was Wade’s ability to attract others that ensured his physical safety. The nature of his relationships with others allowed him to lead the life he was leading — one in which an opiate for his emotional or psychological pain would be available when he needed it, which was pretty much all the time. It was this opiate that enabled him to tolerate that part of him that was cruel, ugly, and at odds with that part of him that created beauty by sketching birds and other people (on pages from the Bible, no less — I guess that was his religion). In addition, Wade had rationalized a personalized — and perverted — code of ethics we can guess as having resulted from years and years of perceived abuse, pain, and victimization at the hands of family, friends, and/or “the system.”

    I believe those two factors formed the basis of the character Wade that we see on the screen. I acknowledge that my interpretation relies on the screenplay of the original film, but my hunch is that the writers, director and cast (ie, Crowe and Foster) were well aware of the screenplay of the original. For some reason, however (and I can only speculate as to why), overt references to the homosexual angle were considerably toned down for the remake. This — plus the rewritten ending — weaken the film’s quality for me.

    That said — and I’ve said it before — the remake is better overall than the original despite what I consider to be two flaws that are not insignificant.

  16. Pierre, I think for me to grasp the whole of your train of thought, I’m going to have to watch the original 3:10 again. As it was, I watched it in kind of a rush while the remake was still fresh, but I don’t know if I gave it a fair shake.

    Is it fair to say Wade was a more traditional outlaw in the original but more ambigously motivated in the remake?

    Anyway, I really enjoyed everything you guys had to say. I’m glad you decided to come here to air out your ideas. I’d like to take another look at Eastern Promises in the near future. It’s another movie that could hold up to some picking apart I think.

  17. One last question Pierre. Where did you see psychological pain in Wade? I saw none. And I can confirm that criminals don’t always come from abusive or unsupportive backgrounds. Including those assessed as psychopaths, who start manifesting pathology at an early age (their first victims are often family pets). The vast majority of those who suffer abuse and hardship in life don’t become criminals anyway. What distinguishes those that do isn’t the extent of abuse they suffered but their attraction to the material, social, emotional, and physiological rewards of a criminal lifestyle.

    I’m with you though on ‘it was Wade’s ability to attract others that ensured his physical safety.’

  18. I’ve had the original 1957 Yuma on DVD sitting here waiting to be played for weeks now, but haven’t got around to it. Sounds like I’m missing something really special, and I can’t wait to backpedal and catch up.

    Pierre, you’ll remember from the article from Script mag that I posted on AwardsDaily last month that the writers remarked on the fact that Mangold held the original in high regard. With the homoerotic subtext present at any level, there’s no way Mangold wouldn’t be aware of it and perhaps do his own subtle spin.

    (Ironically, while it might have been cool and clever to sneak in some gay vibes in 1957, nowadays it’s probably not such a good idea — at least for a movie of this type. Audiences are more sophisticated and more likely to get the joke — but getting the joke and appreciating the joke are not the same thing. So if anything, the subtext would need to be even more foggy and vague or else risk alienating the core audience for Westerns.)

    I wasn’t even going to get into this, because then it just seems like gay people think EVERYTHING has a gay subtext (well? doesn’t it? ha!) But then sartre has to say this:
    “The boy he wanted to romanticize him as the gentleman outlaw was gone.”
    …and then Pierre has to say this:
    “…understanding this aspect of Wade’s nature, together with the nature of his appeal to Charlie Price and other individuals of both genders and how Wade used that power.”

    I don’t think there’s a gay guys alive who hasn’t encountered a Ben Wade. A charming charismatic straight guy who figures out that he can manipulate gay men in the same way that he can manipulate women.

    Plus, I want to hurry up and say this, to reiterate what Pierre said:
    “…in order to have his own needs satisfied — sexual or not. Whether that dynamic manifested in actual sexual behavior is unclear but ultimately irrelevant.”

    Homosexual impulses or urges or subtext don’t have to involve everybody pulling their pants down (dang it.)

    I see the “Wild West” as a sort of wide open prison community without bars or walls. Everybody is an outlaw, there are no women for miles, and the hierarchy of leaders and followers is often determined by who swings the most meat — to be even more blunt: how the “tops” (by force of their dominant personality) are aggressively able to subdue the “bottoms.”

    This doesn’t mean the followers are not some badass insanely violent and basically straight men — it just means there’s something about them that will allow a stronger male to make them submit and kneel down.

    It’s not about going off behind a cactus and making out. It’s almost a fetishizing of the big brother bully or abusive daddy. I

    I’ve rarely seen a western, old or new, that doesn’t have very strong elements of a man-crush thing going on.

    But in this year’s version of 3:10 to Yuma, I wasn’t seeing it between Dan and Ben. I saw it plainly in the way William began to hero-worship Ben Wade. What was happening was crystal clear to Dan too: He was watching his son get seduced.

    I know this makes a lot of people itchy but it shouldn’t, because — as Pierre pointed out — it didn’t have anything to do with sex, and even if it did, the sexual aspect is irrelevant. It’s a purely dominant submissive thing. And this goes back to why Ben found it so easy to dispense with Charlie Prince — Charlie was acting entirely too much like he was ready to play daddy.

    But to me, that’s pretty insignificant to my attitude of the movie or whether I enjoyed it or not. I did very much enjoy it, on all kinds of levels. but the gay undercurrent is way down the list.

    sartre, before I forget, another insignificant point: Maybe “crucifix” is not the exact precise term, but on the black pistol grips of the revolver that Charlie Prince stole from the man he gunned down in the railway tunnel, there was a the tiny intricate carving in gold or silver of Christ on the cross, very prominently featured in at least 2 closeups in the movie.

    There was a deliberate crosscutting of shots between Ben Wade’s eyes and the close-up of Jesus on the the grip of those revolvers, just before Ben Wade did his last gotcha personality shift and shot down his own gang. The editing made it clear that was one of the last things Ben Wade saw before he shot Charlie Price.

    I might be misremembering, so somebody correct me if I’m wrong about that, but things like that do tend to jump out at me — especially when I see them as gratuitous or a cheap shot. If it had been more seamless or made more logical sense, it wouldn’t make an impression on me. It would just become part of the gestalt. But handled clumsily, it sticks out and announces, “Hey! Look at me! I’m supposedly a clue to motivation!!”

    I didn’t buy it; that sort of thing is too pat for me.

    None of those things mattered all that much (like the come-and-go limping — the faster he ran and squatted and crouched, the more miraculously healed his limp would become) None of that would ruin the movie for me. I keep saying to you guys, over and over: I LIKED THE DANG MOVIE, ok? hehe.

    (it probably didn’t help that I saw the movie with a group of rowdy and smartass friends. When Dan started running across town like an Olympic sprinter, my friend Devon said loud enough for two rows to hear: “Nice wooden leg.” His brother Dante said, “He must’ve grown a new one.” Not too funny, but what my friend Ethan said an instant later rescued the joke: “He’s like a damn salamander!” That got chuckles from people who weren’t even with us. So yeah, tough crowd we are.)

    All I’m saying is these little inconsistencies and cheap tricks keep piling up until at some point part of my brain stops taking it all too seriously. I’m reminded once too often that this is just a movie full of standard plot devices — incredibly skillfully employed — and I stop bothering to deconstruct it as if it’s friggen Hamlet, hehe.

    Because you know what this topic and this discussion has shown me? It’s shown me that cjkennedy, Pierre, and sartre are way better at devising proper psychological character motivations than the actual screenwriters of Yuma are. You guys should be Hollywood consultants and more movies would make more sense! I mean it.

    The screenwriters seemed to me to b throwing in just any old clunky contrivance they could think of a the end. And that was great fun! It was a blast. It gave us all lots to talk about. It’s a vast plain of endless sagebrush to survey! But the soil is not very deep, that’s all.

    sartre, you said it very well:
    “…the apparent change of direction towards a conventional ending, only to wonder why the film wanted it both ways by using the whistle to finally show that he wasn’t in fact moved to self-sacrifice by Dan’s courage and values.”

    It’s not just wanting it “both ways” though — they wanted it a half dozen different ways. They wanted to be heartbreakingly tragic, and then they wanted to wink at the audience. They wanted to be ironic and post-modern, but they wanted to be hardcore old-school. They wanted it to be dark as hell, and they wanted to end on a light punch-line.

    They got what they wanted too. But it made the last 45 minutes sort of a mess.

    I can’t wait to see it again though.

    Now if you guys leave me hanging here with the last comment, I’m gonna be so damn pissed off.

    hehe

  19. In a room full of people who like to have the last word Rollerboy, I don’t think you need to worry about being left dangling.

    “Homosexual impulses or urges or subtext don’t have to involve everybody pulling their pants down” Hetero or Homo, wouldn’t the world be a more fun place if they did?

    The gun with the crosses. That gets me to thinking. Was that Ben’s gun that had been taken from him by the railroad dudes? Or had ben taken it from Peter Fonda? Either way, Ben said at one point that that gun was cursed. I’m curious now what Ben seeing that Charlie had the gun meant.

    Way to open up a whole new can of worms Rollerboy!

    That’s all I got. I’m absolutely frazzled. It’s friday. Ahhhh.

  20. I’m keen on replying to Rollerboy’s stimulating comments but it’ll have to wait as I’m about to head out for the night.

    In the meantime:

    ‘Sartre, when he was relaying the story about being abandoned at the train station by his mother, did you sense suffering? Or do you think it was an act designed to elicit sympathy?’

    Good moment to reference to CJ re his pain. I read that sought of thing as the narcissist’s love of self pity and justifying their actions. I can’t remember the context well enough but it also could have been another form of manipulation. Psychopaths used to receive empathy training as treatment. That no longer happens. They can’t develop something they don’t possess the most rudimentary facility for. And it’s believed that the risk of such treatment is empowering psychopaths by giving them more information about how others can be manipulated through their feelings.

  21. Goodness, sartre, you’re just so darned cynical!

    I feel as though our thoughts aren’t quite connecting. Could it be because you’re viewing Wade from only a clinical perspective? I dunno. Despite the valuable insight one can get from such analysis, Wade is not just a case study but a character in literature, and a fully developed one at that. Many examples are given of his goodness, not all of them easily written off as manipulation. And although he is manipulative, what makes his character meaningful is the juxtaposition and timing of his good and bad sides in relation to the story. I’m not suggesting we feel sorry for him. Rather, like most of us, Wade’s manipulative tendencies have origins. Those origins often involve unpleasant experiences from the past and how we learn to protect ourselves from the pain. When CJ asks whether Wade’s story was an act intended to elicit sympathy, I’m not sure because I can’t recall the scene clearly. But it easily could be both — manipulation and real feeling.

    When you ask for examples of psychological pain, I’m a little hard-pressed. But there is the childhood abandonment incident. As I recall, there are allusions to other things, as well. I see Wade as someone who has buried his pain so that it does not show. He may use it to manipulate others into sympathy, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t — or didn’t at one time — feel it. Either way, he’s affected by it. (We all are to some degree.)

    “What distinguishes those that do isn’t the extent of abuse they suffered but their attraction to the material, social, emotional, and physiological rewards of a criminal lifestyle.”

    I don’t mean to overstate that Wade is the way he is because his past was bulging with trials and tribulation. Certainly he has made choices. But the rewards you mention above — rewards he no doubt is attracted to — do not bring him joy. They opiate him from the pain I believe he has sublimated but is eating away at him — the pain of knowing somehwere deep down that he has chosen evil, sold out to the Devil.

    Rollerboy, I’m glad you addressed the issue of homoerotic undertones/subtext. As indicated earlier, I felt the original had some distinct examples of that, primarily that one scene but a couple of other moments, as well. In fact, in one hotel room scene, there’s some pretty blatant phallic imagery as Glenn Ford lies in his bed. I tried to Google a breakdown of the plot of the original that I once read, but couldn’t find it. Instead, though, I found some reviews of the remake. David Ansen (Newsweek) describes Charlie Prince as “sexually ambiguous.” David Denby (New Yorker) describes Prince as a “dandified acolyte.” And another reviewer calls him “a henchman who cares too much about his boss.” So I guess there was a little something that made it into the remake that others commented on.

    Regarding the crucifix imagery (“I didn’t buy it; that sort of thing is too pat for me”), I don’t think it’s too pat. Lots of filmmakers (including great ones like Hitchcock) do such things with special emphasis — they’re meant to stand out.

    It’s true that for anyone — even diehards like us — to deconstruct a film like this, there must be something there. This is a classic tale. But no, rollerboy, Glenn Ford’s characterization is not typical at all of a Western bad guy. There are times when he seems almost impish in his charm.

    I’d run out and see the remake again, but I don’t want to be odd man out if the Eastern Promises discussion begins — and Lust, Caution opened here, too.

    Crikey!

  22. oink oink

    Looks like Pierre’s the thread hog — unless rollerboy has anything to add after having watch the ’57 version. . . .

  23. As my friend Percy Peabody would say ‘what are you incinerating? I resemble that!’

    Off to see The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford this afternoon. Really looking forward to it. The SF Chronicle’s Peter Hartlaub gave it a tepid review. But I was very encouraged by his comment -> ‘there will be a few hard-core cinemaphiles who declare this the best picture of the year (fans of Terrence Malick’s “The New World” and Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man”, you know who you are)’. And yes indeed, I do know who I am.

  24. “Dare I say the prespective says as much about the viewer as it does the movie?”

    So, Craig, I guess we can assume that Pierre is not only almost perfect but nearly always right!

  25. Pierre my friend, we’ll have to agree to differ on the Ben Wade’s pain issue.

    But you and Rollerboy have me open to the gay subtext in the remake being more pointed than I first thought. It helps provide an explanation for Charlie Prince’s shooting of Dan. He may not have understood the exact nature of Wade’s new attachment but he sure wouldn’t have liked it. Perhaps this motivation on his part wasn’t all that conscious though given the look of surprise/betrayal when realizing Wade’s response to the shooting.

    Rollerboy has also convinced me that the ending didn’t just allow for diferent interpretations, but the film makers deliberately offered up contradictory ones.

    Funny you should have called me cynical that day, Pierre. The same evening I was accused by another as being ‘such a romantic’. Perhaps I’m as confused as some would have Ben Wade to be 🙂

  26. Now I’m thinking that its a really clever film that gets people so involved with discussion.
    And that there is nothing simple about a character and his motivations.
    So….What seems like a straight-forward western with a so-so ending is actually much more clever than the too-aware-of-its-own-importance-and-gravitas ‘Jesse James’ movie.

  27. Hi Jan, thanks for your comment.

    To me the nice thing about 3:10 is that it’s not pretentious at all. If you just want to enjoy a good western story, it delivers. But if you’re one of those people that also likes to think more deeply, there’s plenty of room for that also. You can go both ways.

    Jesse James definitely is more of a thinking movie. I ilked it a lot also, but some people find that sort of thing boring.

    As for the ending of 3:10…well lots of people still think it’s so-so

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