3:10 to Yuma - Double-Dealing Money Mongers
When Pinkerton promises him a ranch-saving $200 upon success, Dan Evans agrees to ride guard. After all, Dan is a sharpshooter.
Very little good comes to honest people during economic double-dealing times. But, the details of financial cheatin’ can provide interesting backgrounds for tales of the American West.
In 3:10 To Yuma, limited water-flow from their Arizona stream reduces liquidity to less than a dribble for the Evans family. The New England Yankees moved west for the health benefit of their younger son. The Evans borrowed cash to finance their spread. When their payback falls behind, speculator Ben Hollander—who also controls the trickling rivulet—turns off all water and orders a barn burning to add chaos to misery. “You borrowed a good deal of money and I have rights to recompense,” he pontificates when rancher Dan Evans confronts him. “The railroad’s comin’ Dan. Your land’s worth more with you off it.” Under this type of stress, Dan starts to stumble.
Deprived of a foot while serving as a Civil War sharpshooter for the Union, Dan limps through life peaceably—sometimes desperately—fed by a barely living trickle of hope. While his ailing younger son admires his dad’s meager inner strength, Dan’s wife gives him only surface respect and his older son lives with open disdain for his father’s leadership.
Hope for Dan arises with the capture of outlaw Ben Wade after his gang robs a Pinkerton stagecoach for the twenty-second time. When Pinkerton promises him a ranch-saving $200 upon success, Dan Evans agrees to ride guard with the men escorting Ben Wade cross country to a prison-bound train, the 3:10 to Yuma. After all, Dan is a sharpshooter. Yet—still running free—the Wade gang plots to spring their wily headman.
Even in captivity, Ben Wade surges with confidence. A tough perfectionist who shoots dead one of his own gang for making a tactical error—“Well Tommy…I know Charlie told you…this is what happens when you put us all at risk.”—Outlaw Wade slings a fast gun, a strategic mind, a cynicism toward fake religion and a softness toward honest folks with integrity.
Evans and Wade first confront each other during the aftermath of the stage holdup. Discovering his cattle serving as a rustled roadblock, Evans politely requests them back. “I don’t need your cattle,” Wade quietly replies. “But I will be needin’ them horses,” likely so Evans won’t be planning anything foolish. “You’ll find them on the road to Bisbee,“ Wade continues, then follows through, leaving the steeds where Evans and his sons can recover them.
After assisting with Wade’s capture in Bisbee, the peg-legged Evans signs on as the toughest and most skilled of the escorts. The others include two Pinkertons and a veterinarian doubling as a frontier physician. With good intentions, they hustle toward the connection in Contention, with slim hopes of arriving alive or with Ben.
While some say they may guess the end, the story ropes up plenty of suspenseful trials and surprise trails. With Evans pressing toward the goal, no one knows the next action from Ben or his men.
Despite some rough language, intense violence and soft jabs at humbug Christianity, 3:10 To Yuma provides an intensely engrossing conversation starter for those 17 and older. The near 50-50 good-bad conflicts within the main characters keep the story rolling toward its revolving resolution. After watching six hours of Jane Austin to calm your 3:10-To-Yuma neurons, you may even see Evans as creating at least 50 percent of his own fiscal pain. But then, maybe not.