Released from the Yuma Prison in 1898, ex-killer John McBain wants to go straight while ex-robber Peter Van Hoek seeks revenge but their destinies eventually converge in the mining town of P... Read allReleased from the Yuma Prison in 1898, ex-killer John McBain wants to go straight while ex-robber Peter Van Hoek seeks revenge but their destinies eventually converge in the mining town of Prescott.Released from the Yuma Prison in 1898, ex-killer John McBain wants to go straight while ex-robber Peter Van Hoek seeks revenge but their destinies eventually converge in the mining town of Prescott.
The Hellish truths which loomed over most of James Mangold's 2007 3:10 to Yuma remake, and most probably the majority of both Delmer Daves' original and the initial novel, is here, in this film, thrust upon us without much in the way of pleasantries. The stark realities of Yuma jail that the outlawed Ben Wade in said text faced, had his death sentence been revoked, hovered over the proceedings like the scorching sun did over the protagonist of that text's crops, and is here put right across from the off - wholly establishing where we stand in necessarily knowing anything about such a jail. Delmer Daves is back, his 1958 film The Badlanders plunging us into those realities of Yuma jail by plunging its two principal characters into the deep end of grief and strife as a result of being on the inside. We're at the back end of the nineteenth century; the searing sun in this, the dusty; grotty locale of Arizona searing down onto that of both its chief players: Ernest Borgnine's John McBain and Alan Ladd's Peter Van Hoek, nicknamed "Dutch".
Both men are released on account of their sentences running out at once, Dutch after a stretch that saw a corrupt marshal plant evidence onto his person that saw him put away and McBain because of his amoral lifestyle which saw him put away, but during which his Yuma stretch has reformed him. The pair of them initially go their separate ways, McBain the once criminally minded man looking to start afresh with a different stance; Dutch the straight man incorrectly put inside and as a result, has exited the other end a spiteful and disenchanted man looking for some vengeance. Whilst inside, the film observes how well they work when thrust together in tense and relentless scenarios and must adapt to one another accordingly; the attempted suicide by way of drowning one inmate tries during a daily wash in a nearby river seeing the pair of them combine to garner a better outcome. On another occasion, a heated situation threatens to boil over when McBain is jumped upon by Dutch thus preventing him from killing a guard in anger. Their demonstrating, here, their ability to combine to some degree and compliment one another's characteristics or skills, precedes their working together later on in additionally problematic circumstances.
Dutch's revenge-ridden plan is linked to an old mineshaft long since abandoned of which he is aware still harbours gold, an item which will cost that of the nearby town dearly out of their own ignorance. In the case of McBain, he dutifully fights a group of men effectively doubling up as those with misogynist tendencies, instilling that while he maintains his aggression and combative skills, he's broader minded now. Both men meet respective women, the Mexican girl McBain saved eventually filling in as his love interest whereas Dutch winds up meeting the already married Ada (Kelly). Plans formulate, McBain appears to come back on board when he cannot find work and the tension is cranked up when the crew Dutch eventually enlists through a corrupt local official named Lounsberry (Smith) are given a mere few days to execute the heist following an interaction with a lawman giving them a strict ultimatum to get out of town.
At stake is the overbearing threat of returning to Yuma, those jibes riddled with hostilities and unpleasantness that the guards uttered upon the men's release still ringing in the ear as the reality of life on the inside in those opening sequence resonates. The love stories and promise of happier times born out of the obtaining of the gold act well as items utilised in creating a greater sense of urgency, McBain's Mexican partner effectively forced into going back to the life fraught with what came with it if everything does not succeed, whereas the film playfully toys as to whether Lounsberry is to be trusted as the job itself undergoes numerous hold ups and problematic situations which threaten to scupper the plans of a group of people we have come to be rather fond of. Director Daves keeps everything moving, balancing these plights and combining the slimmer; more softly spoken demeanour of Ladd – calculating and cold look of calculation almost always in his eye - with the brasher, larger and more buoyant Borgnine. The women are suitable alluring, indeed Dutch's first altercation with Ada sees her tower above him as he peers upwards whilst on his hands and knees in a corridor, whereas the characters of law and order appear in a less than glamorous light: coming across as corrupt, provocative and as bullies rather than upstanding; the bulk of it formulating into something quite impressive.
- May 10, 2011