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Final Draft 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman

Roughneck cowboys and gunslinging are the images of both Ben Wade and Dan Evans in Delmer Daves and James Mangold’s versions of 3:10 To Yuma. However, image plays a minor role to the more important issues that concern each character and how their images correlate to the Production Code. To some extent, there are similar factors that go into the choices that both Ben and Dan make. More importantly, it is the situation that possess Ben and Dan to make such choices which ultimately decides their fate. Both films differ in what is determined ‘acceptable’ from the Production Code in relation to image and what is shown in each. In this essay, both characters will be compared in terms of their decision making, why they choose to make their decisions and other factors that go into making them. Also, each film will be contrasted by plot and how each differs in relation to each character’s decision. The motives of each character’s decisions are portrayed in each film differently and it is important to distinguish those differences with regards to the plot and Production Code as a whole. In Delmer Daves 3:10 To Yuma, Ben Wade exemplifies similar characteristics of a classic gangster. Wade is an outlaw with power which is demonstrated by being able to kill and steal with no remorse. His power also comes from having the ability to control others (aka. his posse) but connect with them on a ‘family’ based level. Much like Tony Camonte in Scarface, Ben Wade is his own authority and gains power by controlling his posse and other law represented individuals. Ben’s negative image is portrayed in a more positive way, exemplifying his criminality. This is a big violation of the Code in terms of not condoning his bad behavior. It is only until later the audience realizes that Wade’s actions are kept locked in handcuffs, but that still doesn’t change the fact that he is never technically put in prison by the end of the film. Dan Evans represents the same type of person as Ben Wade. The difference is that there is more of a respect for family, family values and protecting what his rightfully


Midterm Essay On 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman First Draft

his (his property, cattle, house, land, etc.). Dan’s history with war has providing a small background in authority which allows him to be comfortable in a tension filled environment. In essence, Dan is both a lawman and an outlaw because although he wants to uphold the law by bringing Ben to the train, he questions his morality to save what is more important to him; that being Ben’s $10,000 offer to let him free to save his family and land. The viewer recognizes Dan’s willingness to sacrifice his life in order to save his family and perform what is seen as a more moral action. However, Dan is faced with making ultimately a life changing decision. Does he perform an immoral action of taking Ben’s money by letting him free, or does he follow up on his lawful duty to bring Ben to the 3:10 train to prison? Dan’s actions are noble and honorable at the same time. His constant positivity through his ‘police’ type service is noted. But one thing is called into question at the end of the film, when he considers Wade’s bribe offer to let him go. The Production Code office would have a difficult time allowing bribery for uncivil action. This still remains afloat in the film when Dan gets Ben to the train. They are both out of harms way but Ben is still technically ‘free’. The decision to let Ben go is entirely in Dan’s hands. Dan’s morality becomes at stake along with the ability for the audience to relate to such criminalistic behavior. Ultimately, the viewer notices that both Ben and Dan make decisions in the film based on certain factors and situations. For example, Ben decides to stay in the bar while his posse goes to the border. He discovers a woman (very attractive to say the least) whom he recognizes from a previous encounter. Eventually, this decision allows the lawman to catch Ben which begins the journey of bringing him to the train. It is important to question Ben’s decision because as an outlaw, his duty is to stay alive, perform criminal behavior and avoid punishment. By staying in the bar to pursue this woman, he puts himself at risk to get caught, negating his ‘outlaw’ status. One could consider the possibility that Ben stays to connect sexually with the woman,


Final Draft 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman

something that he can’t do with his posse family (because his posse is male dominated). His need to connect with her provides a specific personality trait. Ben is sympathetic towards people, especially women. In the film, this is specifically noted when Ben mentions that he doesn’t kill people just to kill them. He is passionate about his status as an outlaw but will not hurt people for no reason. This might be Ben’s downfall but however one chooses to look at this situation, Ben gets caught and provides the rest of the film with its story line. Another example pertaining to Dan’s decision making is when, in the end of the film, Dan chooses to ride along side Ben by jumping on the train. After this is done, the viewer sees both Dan and Dan’s wife and the two share mutual ‘everything is going to work out’ looks. It is important to consider why Dan jumped on the train. One could question the idea of friendship and the bond that Ben and Dan have created between each other. Or rather, Dan jumped on the train to avoid being killed by Ben’s posse. In this instance, the audience figures that by sharing that ‘look’ with his wife, we recognize that everything is going to be okay with Dan’s land and family. Dan can continue creating his relationship with Ben, if he chooses, and keep safe from potential outlaws that could provide potential threats. In relation to the Code, Dave’s version proposes a couple of issues. As mentioned above, the criminality of both Ben and Dan’s characters is often not punished by law. Ben’s intentions are solely ‘unlawful’ and cannot be seen anywhere in the film as sympathetic and/or positive. Dan’s morality is another thing to take into consideration with the conscious decision to uphold the law or save his family. His blindness to justice is skewed by the one thing that could save his ranch, money. His intentions thus, become negative and is unclear by the end of the film. One other thing that could catch the eye of the Production Code office is the ‘suggested’ sexual relationship between Ben and Emmy. Their lust is covered up by a closing door. The intention is purely sexual and nothing more. Not adultery but no


Midterm Essay On 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman First Draft

further relationship is developed. This could harm the catholic belief pertaining to the sanctity of sexual relationships and/or marriage. James Mangold takes a different approach in his version of 3:10 To Yuma. Everything, as far as Ben and Dan’s decisions are more energetic, more powerful and provide a larger result, whether good or bad. The stakes are raised with regards to Dan’s situation and not so much Ben’s situation. Taking a backseat to the Production Code, the analysis of Mangold’s version is slightly different because the film was made after the Production Code had ceased. However, it is also important to take into consideration instances in this film where there could have been a violation. In this film, Dan takes more of an aggressive role in trying to protect himself, his family and also Ben (in certain situations). The viewer learns more about Dan’s military history and how he was a General to Washington before his lost his leg. His pride, bravery, and knowledge with militia seem to be apparent when he runs Ben to the train. He is overwhelmed by gun fire however his knowledge of strategy and resourcefulness seems to lead him in the right direction. Because of the same situation in the first film, Dan needs to make the choice to take Ben from the hotel to the station. Again, his morality comes into question with regards to whether or not he is going to take the money or follow through with the job. Ben is more of a ruthless outlaw in this film. His choices in this film are in the best interest of himself and not of his posse. His morality, however, is his main concern of his friendship with Dan. This is shown in the film when Dan gets Ben on the train and Charlie, Ben’s right hand man, shoots Dan four times in the chest. Ben shouts no but it seems to have no effect. As Dan lies on the ground, Ben’s decision is persuaded by Dan’s choices and his morality. Ben quickly shoots Charlie and the remainder of of his posse because it is the right thing to do.


Final Draft 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman

The violence in this film would be somewhat unheard of back during the rules of the Production Code. There are scenes, in particular the one mentioned above, where ruthlessness and action do not go hand in hand. Charlie’s demeanor is solely negative and his response to justice is the equivalent to pulling his shorts down to his ankles. Not only is there an immense amount of blood and guts, there is no consequence to the action. Like in the original version, this would be given a ‘C’ rating (aka. Condemned). Dan and Ben’s friendship in this film is slow to develop however it both character’s ideas rub off on each other. Dan’s pride is shown by trying to make the right decisions and urging good over bad to his family. What Dan lacks in self-worth is made up for in his morality. Ben, on the other hand, values his status and reputation to be an outlaw by carrying out specific criminal behaviors. His intentions are stopped when he is captured by the lawmen. His and Dan’s relationship begins to develop at this point and this is when Ben realizes there is more to life than taking people’s money and lives. He realizes this when he shoots Charlie and the rest of the posse. His morality takes over and provides insight to his prison sentence at Yuma. Ben’s character develops throughout the film from a strictly ruthless character to a more understanding sympathetic person. His ideals and thoughts about himself changes in the film when he puts himself into the cage on the train to Yuma. This ‘act’ by Ben is a settlement to the other unjust actions that he performs in the film. The Production Code would not condemn this scene primarily because it appears that justice is indeed served. In Mangold’s Yuma, It is difficult to tell whether Ben will carry out specific moral behavior when he gets out or escapes from Yuma prison. His decisions, towards the end of the film, go against his usual criminality and start to represent the good that is seen in people, especially within Dan’s character. However, it is the goodness from Ben in the end of the film which questions his so called ‘outlaw’ reputation.


Midterm Essay On 3:10 To Yuma Noah Feldman First Draft

Daves’s Yuma, demonstrates the moral ethic that the common man has to provide good to himself and his family. In essence, both films represent morality and how it should be used to demonstrate good behavior according to the Code. There are violations however, the decisions by both characters are made for specific reasons which represent Dan and Ben as individuals. The factors that go into their decisions are endless but ultimately, each character decides to act on their morality in different ways which provide their distinct images.


Compare/Contrast old and new: 3:10 to Yuma