I was interested in this film because as a 50’s Western (based on an Elmore Leonard short story) it is so often paired with “High Noon” It didn’t disappoint. Pretty good acting, great cinematography, and a character- driven plot line make “3:10” a satisfying watch for a mid-week shelter-in-place evening. It is also a reassuring reminder that there was a time when (at least on-screen) decency, self-respect, integrity were considered admirable traits. (Of course, as we know, the reality is that off-screen the ’50’s were a shitty time for a lot of people.) That said, to return to the romanticism of the era: Glen Ford is a charming outlaw and is the foil to Van Heflin’s character, an idealistic, drought-impoverished farmer with a wife and two children. The tension between the two protagonists begs a psychoanalytic reading. Are the two men each other’s alter egos? Each side has its pull: money, power, independence, swagger for Van Heflin. Stability, love, family for Ford. The farmer’s wife is all that any man would want in a woman: loyal, steadfast, kind, good cook, in general–the ideal 50’s woman. In contrast, the outlaw’s woman is a pretty, lonely and one night stand barmaid. Ford is kind to her, but he’s a Travelin’ Man. What elevates the movie is that both men have a code of honor. And both characters have great appeal, but which one would you want your daughter to marry? There’s a great scene where Ford is flirting with the wife. I have to admit that from this female’s gaze I think he’s a whole lot sexier than the farmer. So kudos to the filmmaker for acknowledging female desire, albeit in a 30 second time slot.
The 1957 film is not available on Amazon or Prime, but a follow-up 2007 version with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe is. I’ll be reviewing that one soon.