Thursday, February 17, 2011

3.10 To Yuma

 I actually watched this (the original) last night after Full Metal Jacket. Two legendary films in one night, my goodness how do I cope!! Here I'll attempt to review the original and the re-make together. 
 Well I'll start with the fact that I did not know a single thing about the original even after having seen the re-make last year. I really liked the re-make and believe it was critically acclaimed at the time. It is quite interesting to be writing this review after reviewing the re-make of True Grit not so long ago!
 The re-make starred Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Both are superbly cast, and it makes for real interest as a film lover to juxtapose the two films. The original was made in 1957 and the re-make in 2007, a gap of 50 years. The newer version adds scenes that were not in the original but overall it does not deviate from the original too much.
 This pleased me greatly. Even though I saw the re-make first the original is always, obviously, the film a re-make will be judged against. To say the original is a classic western is an understatement. The opening Frankie Laine song just sets the rest of the film up. I really, really liked this version. Glenn Ford played his role sublimely as a confident outlaw with an unshakable belief in himself and his gang. He was cool, but un-menacing, as he knew he didn't need to be.  He knew the odds were in his favour. Crowe played it the same way, but there was a quiet menace about him, he was cool but you feel that he would kill coldly in a way that Ford's character didn't portray.
 Both Ford and Crowe try to un-nerve and bribe Heflin and Bale through their coolness, but for me Crowe came across as being the more dangerous and scarier of the two. Crowe was coolly menacing, Ford was just coolly confident and really didn't want any harm to come to Heflin's character if necesary. Crowe's portrayal couldn't have cared less about Bale's predicament or ultimate end as long as it didn't prejudice his own. Both Ford and Crowe are outstanding and I couldn't pick which one I preferred.
 Heflin and Bale are also great in their prespective roles. Bale follows Heflin more closely than Crowe does Ford. But this should not detract from Bale's performance. Both play a man who needs the money so much that they will put themselves in harms way whilst understanding the morality of their situation. They both want to see a murderer put on the train and will see it done even if it costs them their lives.
 This situation possibly sets this western apart from so many of its genre. It explores morality of killing that so many westerns romanticize, the very point of Sam Pekinpah's The Wild Bunch that so many viewers of the day failed to see.
 It is hard to pick the better of the two. I feel the original was cleaner in getting Ford to Contention City over the re-make. The re-make has Crowe and Bale in a cliqued encounter with Indians and Crowe in several more escape attempts over Ford. While Ford was somewhat apologetic to Heflin for his only escape attempt Crowe is unrepentent and chilling in his. The endings are somewhat different but they both have Ford and Crowe on the train to Yuma. In the original Heflin's wife watches the train depart but the re-make really cuts the wife out after he departs from his farm.
 I recommend you to see both versions. Neither is better than the other and both have their respective merits. It is rare that a re-make out does the original, and in this case it does not. But in saying that the re-make is a good western that does not dis-honour its predecessor, it only enhances it in homage to the great western it is.
Click here for more on the original:
Here for the official re-make's site:
Here for more:
And more:

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