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3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma(1957)

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

SYNOPSIS

Dan Evans is a farmer struggling to hold onto his land and livelihood during a severe drought. He finds a financial solution for himself and his family when he is offered a large sum of money to secretly escort Ben Wade, the captured leader of an outlaw gang, to a nearby town and place him on board a train that will carry him to trial in Yuma. The two men hole up in a hotel near the station where the smooth-talking Wade tries to mentally and emotionally manipulate his captor into letting him go. Meanwhile, Wade's gang is fast approaching the town where a final showdown between Evans and the outlaws is imminent.

Director: Delmer Daves
Producer: David Heilweil
Screenplay: Halsted Welles , based on a story by Elmore Leonard
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Editing: Al Clark
Art Direction: Frank Hotaling
Music: George Duning, Ned WashingtonCast: Glenn Ford (Ben Wade), Van Heflin (Dan Evans), Felicia Farr (Emmy), Henry Jones (Alex Potter), Richard Jaekel (Charlie Prince).
BW-92m.

Why 3:10 TO YUMA is Essential

An offbeat Western whose tense psychological game could have been played out as easily in any crime drama set in a modern city, 3:10 to Yuma (1957) is one of the best from a director who helped redefine the Western genre in the 1950s. In his 50-year career, Daves racked up credits as actor, writer, producer and director of every type of film Hollywood ever produced, but he did his best and most memorable work in Westerns. Along with a handful of films by other directors notably High Noon (1952), to which 3:10 to Yuma bears some striking similarities Daves ushered in a new era by introducing new elements into an established genre. These included a contemporary, psychological approach to characterizations, a breakdown in romantic stereotypes, and moral ambiguity replacing a clear cut distinction between the good guy and the bad guy.

In 3:10 to Yuma, Daves is ably assisted by the performances of Van Heflin, his solid everyman plainness recalling his work in another Western, Shane (1953), and Glenn Ford, playing against type as the villain, although a charming one who displays a measure of decency at the end.

Ford's Ben Wade was something new for the genre - a villain who is not merely an archetypal bad guy that the hero must face down, but a fully developed character with a point of view. It may be reasonably posited that Wade is actually the central character of the piece, despite being the villain. Instead of being merely the obstacle to the hero's mission, he is in many ways the force that prods Heflin's Dan Evans into a higher moral duty and toward taking greater risks for what is ultimately right.

3:10 to Yuma is as noteworthy for its technique as for its theme and characters. Daves shot the film in black and white in a time when color had become the standard for Westerns. One of its most significant departures from the genre is the setting; much of it takes place not in the great outdoors but within the confines of a single room, where the intense interplay between the two characters frequently earns 3:10 to Yuma its description as a "chamber Western."

The exterior sequences are also very striking; Daves used red filters to give a heightened, harsher sense of a land ravaged by drought, and sets the action against homesteads and towns whose almost barren physicality and less-than-upright citizenry place them at the edge of civilization, a narrative space well suited to the story's ambiguities and tensions.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

3:10 to Yuma is often compared to an earlier Western, High Noon (1952), which also features an ordinary man standing alone against great odds to serve justice.

Like High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma had an evocative theme song that became a hit record (with slightly different lyrics than heard on the soundtrack). It was written by Ned Washington and George Duning and sung by Frankie Laine.

Laine was a frequent performer of theme songs on the soundtracks of other Western films, including Blowing Wild (1953), Man without a Star (1955), and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), as well as his famous rendition of the theme to the Western TV series Rawhide. Laine's vocal presence on these movies was so iconic that Mel Brooks used him for the theme of his Western spoof Blazing Saddles (1974).

British folk singer Sandy Denny (1947-1978) wrote and recorded a song called "3:10 to Yuma" in 1967.

3:10 to Yuma was remade in 2007 by director James Mangold with Russell Crowe as Ben Wade and Christian Bale as Dan Evans. The story sticks very close to the original but added a run-in with hostile Apaches and a scene about the construction of train tracks.

James Mangold has acknowledged that his earlier feature Cop Land (1997) was influenced by 3:10 to Yuma. Sylvester Stallone's character in that film, Freddy Heflin, is intentionally named after Van Heflin. Speaking about Cop Land, Mangold said in an MTV interview, "I was trying to make a Western fused with a kind of modern Jersey cop mob world. I think they are two of our most original forms, the mob movie and the Western. They're two of America's most original film forms where you get to examine issues of morality and loyalty in a much more interesting fashion than you generally get a chance to in other genres."

Elmore Leonard, who wrote the story on which 3:10 to Yuma is based, jokingly told a writer for the web magazine Slate that his lawyers were working on getting him the $2,000 owed him for the remake of 3:10 to Yuma under the terms of his original contract for sale of the film rights to his story.

Leonard later wrote the screenplay for a sequel to the earlier Western to which 3:10 to Yuma is often compared. His High Noon, Part II: The Return of Will Kane (1980) premiered on television.

Elmore Leonard's work has also been the basis for the Westerns The Tall T (1957), Hombre (1967), and Valdez Is Coming (1971). He also contributed the screenplay for the Clint Eastwood Western Joe Kidd (1972). He is best known today, however, for adaptations of his modern-day crime and mystery stories, such as Get Shorty (1995) and Out of Sight (1998).

Here is one of the more odd pop culture connections to 3:10 to Yuma. According to an article posted on Slate, the online daily magazine, the film's title has become part of everyday speech in Cuba. Author Brett Sokol traces the evolution of the term "yuma" to mean "American" and "La Yuma" to refer to the U.S. itself. Cuban speech has long used the colloquial "yunay" to mean "united," and when the movie first hit Cuban cinemas in the 1950s, Sokol claims, the word morphed into yuma (although other writers on the subject cast doubt on that connection). Sokol continues: "Legend has it that in 1980, when a desperate Havana bus driver crashed through the gates of the Peruvian Embassy seeking asylum-subsequently sparking the Mariel boatlift that saw over 125,000 Cubans migrate to Miami-his anguished cry was, 'I want to go to La Yuma!'" Sokol says that Elmore Leonard told him he "does intend to return Cuba's linguistic tip of the hat. In his next book, he'll bring back from an earlier novel a Cuban character who left the island in the Mariel boatlift. Speaking over the phone from his Detroit home, Leonard assumed the voice of this Marielito and read me a line from his new manuscript: 'When Fidel opened the prisons and sent all the bad dudes to La Yuma for their vacation....'"

The old territorial prison at Yuma closed in 1909, but much of the structure remains and is now a state park and historic site. It has been used in location shoots for many pictures, ranging from the silent "documentary" Life in a Western Penitentiary (1914), the Alan Ladd Western The Badlanders (1958), and the modern-day prison break drama Riot (1969), starring Gene Hackman and Jim Brown.

The original short story on which 3:10 to Yuma is based is included in The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard (William Morrow, 2004). On the audio version, the story is read by actor-musician Henry Rollins.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

Delmer Daves was born in 1904 and made his motion picture debut playing a choirboy in a 1915 short silent, Christmas Memories (1915), produced, directed, written by and starring Robert Z. Leonard. By the late 1920s, Daves was working in the industry full time in a range of jobs, one of the earliest being a prop man. Although he earned a law degree from Stanford University, he continued working in movies as an actor, a continuity person, and eventually as a writer in just about every genre Hollywood produced. One of his most unusual tasks was to construct dialogue for the actress Kay Francis to avoid the letter "r" (because of Francis's "Baba Wawa" type of speech impediment). During this assignment, Daves also allegedly had an affair with Francis.

Daves was first given the opportunity to direct on the war film Destination Tokyo (1943), and over the next two decades he made 30 films, also in a range of genres but with Westerns being his most characteristic and the ones for which he received the highest praise.

3:10 to Yuma was Glenn Ford's second film with Daves. The first was the Western Jubal (1956), which also featured his Yuma co-star Felicia Farr. Daves cast Ford in his next film, Cowboy (1958), which co-starred Jack Lemmon, who married Farr a few years later.

Canadian-born Ford began acting on film in 1937 and had early success as a frequent co-star of Rita Hayworth, most notably in Gilda (1946). His first Western was Texas (1941), and he made more than two dozen in his nearly 60-year career, as well as a number of Western television movies and series. As a result, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1978. He was also credited with being the fastest gun in Hollywood, able to draw and fire in less than half a second. That made him faster than such Western entertainment legends as James Arness and John Wayne.

Ford allegedly underwent hypnosis in 1978 and recalled a past life as a Colorado cowboy named Charlie Bill. According to the story, he gave a detailed description on tape of his life as Bill, which was given to the University of California to study.

Writer Halsted Welles made his scripting debut in 1949 but had his earliest successes in television. In a career that lasted through 1976, he did most of his work on the small screen, including writing for the Western series Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Virginian, The Monroes, and Kung Fu.

In his 30-year career (1937-1967), cinematographer Charles Lawton, Jr. made many Westerns, including the three for Delmer Daves that starred Glenn Ford (plus three in other genres for Daves), one for John Ford (and three non-Westerns for Ford), and three for Budd Boetticher (including the Elmore Leonard adaptation The Tall T, 1957). Among his most famous work is the black-and-white photography of Orson Welles's The Lady from Shanghai (1947).

Composer George Duning also wrote the music for Daves's Cowboy and for a total of 10 movies starring Glenn Ford. His work was Oscar®-nominated five times, including his memorable score for Picnic (1955). Among the several scores he wrote for Westerns were John Ford's Two Rode Together (1961) and a TV movie called Yuma (1971), no relation to this story.

Elmore Leonard once said, "All the adaptations of my books all sucked." The only one he liked was the film of Get Shorty (1995). Although 3:10 to Yuma stayed fairly faithful to its story source, Leonard complained that after seeing this film and The Tall T, he was dismayed to realize how Hollywood could foul up a "simple story." Leonard's objection may have been to the fact that the movie version provides more back story and motivation to Dan Evans and his risky act, whereas in his short story Evans was simply a deputy sheriff whose bravery and competence in carrying out the job are left mostly unexplained. "Mr. Leonard tends to like it chilly, though: no warming sentiment, no gassy speeches, just behavior in all its unaccountable variety," noted Terrence Rafferty in a September 2007 article about the release of the remake.

Memorable Quotes from 3:10 TO YUMA

ALICE EVANS (Leora Dana): It seems terrible that something bad can happen and all anybody can do is stand by and watch.
DAN EVANS (Van Heflin): Lots of things happen where all you can do is stand by and watch.

EMMY (Felicia Farr): If it's a killin' I'll have to wake him. It's only robbery he doesn't want to be awakened for.

EMMY: Funny, some men you see every day for ten years and you never notice; some men you see once and they're with you for the rest of your life.

BEN WADE (Glenn Ford): Oh, they'll be easy to catch. That's three big men on three white horses.
ALEX POTTER (Henry Jones): Three white fellas... on three big horses, huh?

MARSHALL (Ford Rainey): Safe! Who knows what's safe? I knew a man dropped dead from lookin' at his wife. My own grandmother fought the Indians for sixty years, then choked to death on lemon pie.

DAN EVANS: The town drunk gave his life because he believed that people should be able to live in decency and peace together. Do you think I can do less?

BEN WADE: What are you squeezin' that watch for? Squeezin' that watch ain't gonna stop time.

DAN EVANS: If you start across this, uh, eight feet between us, I'm gonna pull both triggers at once.

BEN WADE: Now what do you figure you're gonna die for?

Compiled by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

Although he is better known today for contemporary crime and mystery stories with an often wryly or ironically humorous edge, Elmore Leonard started his writing career as the author of Western stories. He had his first success in 1951 when Argosy, the adventure magazine, published his short story "Trail of the Apache." More than 30 short stories followed in the next decade, and his first pulp Western novel, The Bounty Hunters, was published in 1953. That same year, his short story "Three-Ten to Yuma" was published in Dime Western Magazine. He received $90 for the story.

Leonard said he chose Yuma as the location for the title because it was the site of a famous territorial prison, the most notorious one in the Old West. It opened in 1876, and during its 33 years of operation, more than 3,000 people were incarcerated there for crimes ranging from polygamy to murder, with grand larceny the most common.

Leonard's work first grabbed attention as a good basis for drama in 1956, when his story "Moment of Vengeance" was adapted as an episode of the TV anthology series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. It starred Western icon Ward Bond (a frequent player in John Ford's films) and Gene Nelson.

Leonard's work was first picked up for the big screen by director Budd Boetticher, who saw in the author's complex, shaded characters a good foundation for the kind of Western he was turning out in collaboration with Randolph Scott in the 1950s - pared down, often bleak tales with heroes driven by guilt, revenge or an internal moral code. Boetticher and screenwriter Burt Kennedy effectively adapted Leonard's story into The Tall T (1957).

During this period, director Delmer Daves also began turning his attention to the Western. His first in the genre, Broken Arrow (1950), starred James Stewart and featured Jeff Chandler as Apache leader Cochise. It broke new ground as one of the earliest films (and one of the very few of its time) to depict Indians with dignity and understanding. Although he continued to work in several genres, Daves received increased attention for the way he skillfully foregrounded psychological and moral complexity into the Western, long characterized by clear separation of good and bad, right and wrong. Daves saw in Leonard's story "Three-Ten to Yuma" an opportunity to explore these shadings further and bought the screen rights for $4,000, with the promise of another $2,000 for any remakes.

To adapt the story, Daves hired former playwright and stage director Halsted Welles, whose only previous theatrical feature had been the Barbara Stanwyck melodrama The Lady Gambles (1949). Welles spent the years following that debut working in television. He was one of the writers on the series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, where Leonard's writing was first adapted, although Welles was not the scripter on the Leonard-inspired episode.

Welles took the kernel of the plot and some of the dialogue from Leonard's story but changed the name of most of the characters, except for Charlie Prince, the ruthless second-in-command of Ben Wade's outlaw gang.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

In casting 3:10 to Yuma, Daves first hired actors from his previous two movies, Glenn Ford and Felicia Farr. Ford had been the lead in an equally offbeat Western by Daves, a tale of jealousy and betrayal based in part on Shakespeare's Othello, called Jubal (1956). Farr was in that picture, too, as well as Daves's next feature, The Last Wagon (1956). In the latter film, a group traveling by wagon train must depend for protection against the Comanches on a man who has lived for many years with the Indians and is wanted for three murders. Due to their work on these movies, Ford and Farr were quite used to the complex characters and themes that Daves brought to the genre.

Glenn Ford rejected Daves's offer of the role of farmer Dan Evans and suggested himself instead for the "villain" role, counter to his screen image.

In addition to studio work at the Columbia/Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank, California, much of 3:10 to Yuma was shot on location in Arizona, near Elgin, Sedona, Willcox, Texas Canyon and in the Old Tucson historic district.

The film was lensed by cinematographer Charles Lawton, Jr., noted for several previous Westerns, including Daves's Jubal and the earlier picture based on an Elmore Leonard story, Budd Boetticher's The Tall T (1957), released just a few months before this movie.

Although most Westerns by this time, including Daves's previous two films Jubal and The Last Wagon, were being produced in color, Daves and Lawton opted to shoot this one in black and white. Lawton used red filters on his lenses, however, to give the landscape an even more starkly parched look, befitting the story's setting amidst a lengthy drought.

by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

An offbeat Western in many aspects, 3:10 to Yuma is one of the best from a director who helped redefine the genre in the 1950s. Van Heflin plays a farmer struggling to hold on to his land and way of life during a severe drought. He sees a way out for himself and his family when he is offered a big chunk of money to take the captured leader of an outlaw gang (Glenn Ford) in secret to a nearby town and make sure he is placed on board a train that will carry him to trial in Yuma. The two men hole up in a hotel near the station where the smooth-talking criminal tries to mentally and emotionally manipulate his captor into letting him go. The film wrings a great deal of suspense from their battle of wills and from the increasing threat of the outlaw's gang who are on their way to Yuma.

In a career stretching from 1915 (he made his acting debut at 11 in a silent version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol) to 1965, Delmer Daves racked up credits as actor, writer, producer and director of every type of film Hollywood ever produced, but he did his best and most memorable work in Westerns. Along with a handful of films by other directors, notably High Noon (1952), to which this story bears resemblance, Daves ushered in a new era in the genre with Broken Arrow (1950), starring Jeff Chandler as Apache warrior Cochise, one of the few films to treat Indians with dignity and understanding. Daves' films brought modern psychological themes, a breakdown in romantic stereotypes, and moral ambiguities to a genre often characterized by good guy/bad guy gunplay. He is ably assisted in bringing out the movie's gray-shaded themes and rising tension by the performances of Heflin, casting his solid American plainness in a role similar to the actor's work in Shane (1953), and Glenn Ford, playing against type as a villain, although a charming one who displays a measure of decency at the end.

The film is as noteworthy for its technique as for its theme and characters. Daves shot 3:10 to Yuma in black and white in a time when color had become the standard for Westerns. One of the most significant departures from the genre is its setting, much of it takes place not in the great outdoors but within the confines of a single room. But the exterior sequences are also very striking; Daves used red filters to give a heightened, harsher sense of a land ravaged by drought. One of the other oddities in this project is its adaptation from a story by Elmore Leonard. Although he started his career with several interesting Western stories, particularly his novel Valdez Is Coming, made into a Burt Lancaster film in 1971, Leonard is best known today for complex, darkly funny modern crime stories. Two of his most popular books have been turned into critically and commercially successful films: Get Shorty (1995) and Out of Sight (1998). Interesting note: Leonard wrote the script for the television sequel High Noon Part II: The Return of Will Kane (1980).

This was Daves' second film with Glenn Ford, following the Othello-based Western Jubal (1956), which also starred Felicia Farr, who appears in 3:10 to Yuma and Daves' earlier film The Last Wagon (1956). Daves' next project after this was Cowboy (1958), which paired Ford with Farr's husband-to-be Jack Lemmon.

Director: Delmer Daves
Producer: David Heilweil
Screenplay: Halsted Welles , based on a story by Elmore Leonard
Cinematography: Charles Lawton, Jr.
Editing: Al Clark
Art Direction: Frank Hotaling
Music: George Duning, Ned Washington
Cast: Glenn Ford (Ben Wade), Van Heflin (Dan Evans), Felicia Farr (Emmy), Henry Jones (Alex Potter), Richard Jaeckel (Charlie Prince).
BW-93m. Letterboxed

by Rob Nixon

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teaser 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

AWARDS & HONORS

3:10 to Yuma was nominated for a British Academy Award as Best Film from Any Source.

It also received the second place ranking in the Golden Laurel Award for Top Action Drama and Van Heflin as Top Male Action Star.

Critics Corner: 3:10 TO YUMA

"Director Delmer Daves continues to justify his reputation as a rising talent in that department. That the climax fizzles must be laid on the doorstep of Halsted Welles, who had adapted Elmore Leonard's story quite well up to that point."
Variety, August 14, 1957

"3:10 to Yuma is a good Western film, loaded with suspenseful situations and dusty atmosphere. The opening scene of a stage-coach holdup is crisply and ruggedly staged, and all the incidents of lawmen versus bandits are developed nicely from there. A good, lively script has been written by Halsted Welles, and sharp, business-like direction has been contributed by Delmer Daves. What's more, the whole thing is neatly acted. Van Heflin as the hero sweats and strains and brings himself up to the crisis like a man truly frightened and torn. Glenn Ford is insultingly casual as the bandit leader who trades on his charm. Richard Jaeckel is harsh as his top henchman, and Henry Jones is droll and deft as a brave drunk. Another good performance is turned in by Robert Emhardt as the proprietor of the stage line who is brave up to a point and then goes cold. As the inevitable females, Leora Dana is austere as the hero's wife, and Felicia Farr is amusingly off-beat and even poignant as a passing saloon girl. Except that the ending is romantic and incongruous, in the face of what goes on, this is a first-rate action picture-a respectable second section to High Noon [1952]."
Bosley Crowther, New York Times, August 29, 1957

"It is a strong, taut drama which builds to a climax almost painfully tense."
Paul V. Beckley, New York Herald-Tribune, August 1957.

"Decidedly Daves's best film. ... All the captivating power of 3:10 to Yuma relies on isolating the factors which develop honesty, inner discipline and strength of character. Apart from the economy of means, high tension, and precise description, the film can claim no formal qualitiesthere are no imposing landscapes, and the struggle of wits and characters in the hotel room takes up a considerable part of the running time of the picture. Only the finale (though not the culmination) is dynamic and traditionally 'western.'"
Adam Garbicz and Jacek Klinowski, Cinema, the Magic Vehicle (Scarecrow Press, 1979).

"3:10 to Yuma is affecting and exciting because its director, Delmer Daves, and his screenwriter, Halsted Welles, have imbued it with a deep respect for the implicit promise of its story, and with a skill for invention at once simple and daring."
Blake Lucas, Magill's Survey of Cinema, Second Series, Volume 6 (Salem Press, 1981).

"Tense, well-directed but rather talky low-budget Western: excellent performances and atmosphere flesh out an unconvincing physical situation."
- Halliwell's Film & Video Guide

"A vivid, tense and intelligent story about probable people, enhanced by economical writing and supremely efficient direction and playing."
- The Guardian

"Daves is in fact the author of an amazingly diverse oeuvre. It is as if he intended to create a vast tableau chronicling the evolution of the West, focusing not on glamorous, legendary figures and events, but rather on more humble, modest and particularized dramas. His mise en scene is similarly varied, though its modest self-effacement has led to ill-considered charges of aesthetic paucity. Daves's very considerable strengths and virtues are best summed up by one French critic's description of him as 'the honest man of the Western.'"
Brian Garfield, Western Films: A Complete Guide (Rawson Associates, 1981).

"Delmer Daves resourcefully recycled some of the genre's most durable themes, and coaxed out of Heflin his finest screen performance to date. Ford also managed to turn the bad-guy into more than just a conventional Western villain, and it wasn't his fault that Welles's script let him down in the final moments of the film."
Clive Hirschhorn, The Columbia Story (Pyramid Books, 1989).

"Felicia Farr's brief role as the barmaid who causes Ford's guard to be dropped lights up the screen with an ole-time sensuality, yet also appears delicate and touchingly poignant. 3:10 to Yuma remains a much overlooked film in the genre, produced in a period when the time of the Great Westerns was coming to an end. As a precursor to the superior Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone or the post-modern antics of Clint Eastwood, it remains an important turning point in the history of the Western."
Neil Chue Hong, Edinburgh University Film Society Programme, 1997-98.

"3:10 to Yuma does not deserve its high reputation, largely because of its contrived situation and Glenn Ford's inability to be nasty."
David Thomson, A Biographical Dictionary of Film (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000)

"It's of necessity a talkative film, with Ford working on Heflin's nerves in a stream of Machiavellian banter, but one held in perfect balance by Daves, who keeps the tension strung taut (especially in the gauntlet-running final walk to the station) while at the same time elaborating a subtle psychological conflict. ... The conflict, ultimately, stems from each man's envy of what the other has."
Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide (Penguin, 2007).

"If 3:10 to Yuma lacked High Noon's stripped-down drama, it strove for additional psychological complexity in contrasting two American types: the stolid working-stiff everyman and the charming hipster sociopath. In one of its most resonant bits, Yuma juxtaposes Heflin's dutiful marriage with Ford's passionate seduction of a lonely barmaid."
J. Hoberman, The Village Voice, August 28, 2007

"A classically schematic Western...Glenn Ford's muted performance takes full advantage of the humour inherent in the confrontation."
- The Oxford Companion to Film

by Rob Nixon

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