“310 to Yuma,” review by Susan Granger

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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “3:10 to Yuma” is a gritty, galloping 8, an authentic Western with cynical, contemporary touches.

No one knows how many thousands of Westerns have been made, but the first notable one was “The Great Train Robbery” in 1903. Since then, we’ve watched Westerns for more years than there was a Wild West, since they’re usually set in the years between the conclusion of the Civil War and the end of the 19th century.

James Mangold’s re-make of Delmer Daves’ 1957 anti-hero redemption saga revolves around the psychological conflict between a crippled, courageous rancher, Dan Evans (Christian Bale), and a notorious killer, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). After suffering a period of draught and subsequent debt, Evans’ family is awakened one night to discover their barn burning and small herd of cattle rustled, subsequently serving as a stampede diversion for a stagecoach robbery. That sets up his first encounter with Ben Wade – but far from his last.

Writers Michael Brandt and Derek Haas have added to Elmore Leonard’s story and Halsted Welles’ original script, making it more violent, cynical and brutal – with the clock-ticking convention of “High Noon” and “Rio Bravo” and an enigmatic conclusion. James Mangold (“Walk the Line”) keeps the tension taut as Evans is grimly determined to deposit Wade on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison.

Russell Crowe’s sophisticated, multi-dimensional sociopath anchors the story, while scowling Christian Bale’s seems weighted down with stoic, stubborn, idealistic virtue. Or perhaps it’s just his choice to underplay. As Wade’s dastardly accomplice, Ben Foster scores, and Peter Fonda is memorable as a corrupt bounty hunter. On the other hand, the ‘frontier women’ (Gretchen Mol, Vinessa Shaw) are too creamed and coiffed to be even remotely believable.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.