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3:10 TO YUMA

About The Production
Originally published in 1953 in Dime Western Magazine, Elmore Leonard's short story "3:10 to Yuma" reached the screen four years later in a film directed by Delmer Daves from a screenplay by Halsted Welles. The plot is simple: a cash-strapped named rancher Dan Evans volunteers to escort infamous outlaw Ben Wade to a prison-bound train. 

Director James Mangold was seventeen when he first saw the 1957 western and it made a lasting impression on him. "It startled me because the questions the film asked about morality, courage, honor and family were very sophisticated. The characters of Ben Wade and Dan Evans are much more complicated than simple black and white hats, and the story presented not only the potential for action but also a kind of claustrophobia -- unique among westerns -- one that forces these opposite characters into a very close and intense proximity.

Mangold drew inspiration from 3:10 TO YUMA in writing and directing his second feature, COP LAND (1997), an acclaimed drama starring Sylvester Stallone as an unassuming small-town sheriff who faces down a group of corrupt New York City cops. "COP LAND was modeled on 3:10 TO YUMA," says the director. "In fact, I named the main character, Sheriff Freddy Heflin, after Van Heflin, who played Dan Evans in the original film." 

Mangold began to seriously entertain the notion of remaking 3:10 TO YUMA while directing IDENTITY (2002) for Columbia Pictures, which owned the film rights. "It struck me: why not actually try to tackle the original film and the original story ideas from a modern perspective?" he says. "Sometimes the most attractive land is the land that hasn't been plowed lately and the western seemed to me to have been abandoned in the last decade. Yet it's such an integral part of American moviemaking."

Mangold's longtime producer Cathy Konrad, whose professional collaboration with the filmmaker dates back to COP LAND, was enthusiastic about a potential remake. Konrad, who first saw the 1957 3:10 TO YUMA during the production of COP LAND, felt a contemporary audience could appreciate the story of an ordinary man forced to test himself in the harshest of circumstances. "I think that people want to relate to heroes who are real people. There are other ways to look at the world and to look at conflict other than superhero stories," she comments. "There's something very compelling about the struggles that people face in westerns, defining themselves, settling land, building families. There are no easy ways to solve problems. You really have to dig deep inside yourself and think about who you are and what matters to you. The backdrop may be the past, but the themes are very modern."

As Mangold got deeper into writing WALK THE LINE, he and Konrad tapped the writing team of Michael Brandt and Derek Haas to begin work on revisions to the 3:10 TO YUMA screenplay. Mangold and Konrad were deeply inspired by the original screenplay by Halsted Welles, a respected writer whose credits included the Gary Cooper classic THE HANGING TREE (1959) and over 100 hours of live television during the "Golden Age.” However, Mangold and Konrad wanted the trek from Bisbee to Contention, barely glimpsed in the original film, to be further dramatized in their production. They worked together with Brandt and Haas to carefully devise the route that takes Wade and his guards into Apache territory, as well as into the mountains where crews are blasting through rock to build the transcontinental railroad. They developed new characters, including Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), a bounty hunter who has tangled with Wade before. 

Says Brandt, "We all loved the original, and we wanted to figure out a way to make it for modern audiences. Jim's focus was, 'let's make it gritty. Let's make it real.'" 

3:10 TO YUMA depicts a world where violence is as commonplace as corruption


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