3:10 to Yuma Original versus Remake

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Rose and I went to see the remake of 3:10 to Yuma over the weekend after viewing the original 1957 version earlier in the week. The verdict? Although we enjoyed the remake, we both liked the original version better.

The remake is good. It is fast-paced with plenty of action. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are both excellent in their characters. I was surprised how closely the remake followed the original, right down to the dialogue in some parts. But the most important place where the remake differed was in the two main characters and their motivations.

In the original film Glenn Ford played the outlaw Ben Wade, and Van Heflin played the rancher Dan Evans. Glenn Ford’s outlaw is a dangerous man who kills when he feels necessary but also seems to have a code of honor. For example, when he kills a man who tries to stop him from robbing a stagecoach, he is concerned that the man is buried in his hometown. His gang also seems to have some honor as far as outlaws go. In contrast, Russell Crowe’s outlaw is much meaner and so is his gang. They have little to no honor and kill ruthlessly.

Similarly, in the original film Van Heflin’s rancher is a man of integrity. At first he takes the job of escorting Wade to the train because he needs the money for his family, but as the story progresses, he continues with the job simply because he feels it is the right thing to do. He is a man of quiet strength and principle, and Wade helps him in the end out of respect. In contrast, Christian Bale’s rancher is much weaker. He keeps going not so much because it is the right thing to do, but because he wants to prove to his son that he is a hero. Wade continually outdoes him and seems more motivated to help him at the end out of pity than respect. (Although, I believe Wade does have genuine respect for him at the end of the film.)

So, although we enjoyed both versions, we liked the characterization of the first film better and felt it did a better job of playing the two characters off against each other. Did anybody else see either or both of the films? What did you think?

Note to parents: The 2007 movie contains graphic violence and strong language. The 1957 version should be fine for children 10 and up.

3 Comments

  1. Michele says:

    I gotta say, the new one was better. I think the ending was better, and Dan in the new one also continued going because it was the right thing to do, it wasn’t JUST about being a hero or getting the money.
    The character depiction was just so much better. I understood WHY (even if some of the motives were questionable) the characters did what they did.
    In the original IMO some of the main characters had little to no depth.
    I don’t care if it IS a western, I want characters I can relate to.
    I will say Glenn Ford did an awesome job playing creepy Ben Wade. Van Heflin has never impressed me, not in the original of this film, not in Shane, or anything else I might have seen him in.
    The acting alone puts the new one heads and tails above the other.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    Michele – I agree the acting was better in the second one (at least Christian Bale over Van Heflin — I might have to give Glenn Ford and Russell Crowe a tie). But I still think Dan Evans’ motivation is off in the remake. It seems he keeps going to impress his son, not necessarily because it is the right thing to do. But, I thoroughly enjoyed both versions, and am glad they are both there for comparison. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Mark says:

    This is 11 years too late but the 1957 version had better dialogue particularly that of Ben Wade relentlessly tempting the dirt poor rancher to take the bribe money for the sake of his long suffering wife. After all that’s Satan’s title ‘the tempter’. Brilliant script.

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