3:10 to Yuma - 2007

Let me get this out of the way first: We should take up a collection and get those guys an atlas! The opening scenes of this movie have continuous references to Bisbee, Arizona. I spent a good portion of my life in Bisbee, so I was more than a little curious, to put it mildly! Imagine my surprise and dismay to discover that Hollywood's Bisbee is NOT in the southeastern mountains of Arizona, is NOT a mining town, and is NOT in even the vicinity (despite numerous references to crossing the border into Mexico), but is, instead, somewhere flat, grassy, and with cholla (the "Jumping Cactus"), which grows farther north! To add insult to injury, they had the temerity to include an interval (you'll see Luke Wilson as a bad guy) with Chinese laborers building a railroad! In Southern Arizona? Puleeze!

This is right up there with the classic "My Darling Clementine" starring Henry Fonda. That one was supposed to be about Tombstone and the Gunfight at OK Corral, but was filmed in Monument Valley, which is in the far northeastern part of Arizona, over 300 miles away. That location was hard to stomach, too!

Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let's talk about the movie itself. It is absolutely terrific! Dan Evans, played by Christian Bale ("Batman Begins" and "The Prestige") is a law-abiding small-time rancher, struggling to make ends meet. His hard-working family consists of a wife and two sons. The man who holds his mortgage has cut off his access to water and he is on the brink of ruin. He had the lower part of one leg amputated in the Civil War. In the early scenes of the movie, their little ranch is raided, their cattle run off and their barn burned.

As Dan and his fourteen-year-old son track their small herd, they happen upon a stagecoach robbery being committed by a gang headed by a charismatic, Bible-quoting fellow named Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe ("A Beautiful Mind" and "Cinderella Man"). This gang is so feared and respected they travel the area with relative impunity. Dan and his son pick up an injured Pinkerton guard, played by Peter Fonda ("Ulee's Gold" and "The Hired Hand"). They have to get him to a doctor (who actually turns out to be a veterinarian), played by Alan Tudyk ("Death at a Funeral" and "28 Days"). Wade and his gang have stopped in "Bisbee" for some R & R, and as a result of a terrific scene between Dan and Ben (this is based on a story by Elmore Leonard), Ben is captured. With a rueful smile, Ben says, "Remind me never to play poker in this town."

Russell Crowe's Ben Wade is a fascinating character. He intellectually seduces everyone, finding grounds for common interest, obtaining agreement on some shared value, searching each new acquaintance for a weakness. He is, on the other hand, a cold-blooded killer who does not hesitate to shoot someone because "He bored me."

The Pinkerton Agency is charged with the responsibility to deliver Ben Wade to the "3:10 to Yuma." The train will deliver him to the Territorial Prison, where he will be hanged. Finding a shortage of willing guards, a reluctant Dan Evans is hired to help out; the pay should go a long ways to getting his struggling ranch back on its feet.

Getting there is what this movie is all about. Be prepared for bloodshed, suspense and humor. You know Elmore Leonard... I'm on the waiting list at Seattle Library to view the original classic Western that starred Glenn Ford. (I wonder if THEY found Bisbee!)