RiverRun Retro saddles up for ‘3:10 to Yuma’
The RiverRun International Film Festival’s ongoing “RiverRun Retro” series is locked and loaded for its next special event: A screening of the classic 1957 Western 3:10 to Yuma, starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, and based on Elmore Leonard’s short story.
The screening takes place Feb. 20 in Winston-Salem at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, with special guest Peter Ford, son of Glenn Ford and Eleanor Powell, in attendance. Ford, the only child of the two Hollywood superstars and the author of the critically acclaimed biography Glenn Ford: A Life, will be joined by RiverRun executive director Rob Davis for an on-stage discussion before the film.
Following the screening, there will be a reception and book-signing, with copies of Glenn Ford: A Life available for purchase. Peter Ford will also have a book signing 7:30 p.m. Monday at Scuppernong Books, located at 304 S. Elm St. in Greensboro the night before the SECCA screening.
3:10 to Yuma is a tightly-wound tale of retribution and redemption, with Ford cast against type as ruthless outlaw Ben Wade, whose gang has been terrorizing the Arizona territory in the late 1880s. Wade is captured in the small town of Bisbee, but his henchmen (led by Richard Jaeckel) escape and lay in wait for an opportunity to free him.
To ensure that Wade is transported to justice – and away from Bisbee – local businessman Mr. Butterfield (Robert Emhardt) offers $200 to anyone willing to volunteer to “escort” him aboard the next train to Yuma. The only who do are Dan Evans (Heflin), an impoverished rancher, and Alex Potter (Henry Jones), the town drunk. The wily, manipulative Wade’s attempts to intimidate his captors and strike fear into the townspeople, but Evans’ sheer determination to see this through to the end compels Wade into grudging respect for him, even as the seconds tick away.
For 60 years, 3:10 to Yuma has endured in the hearts and minds of Western fans everywhere, due in no small part to Delmer Daves’ swift, no-nonsense direction, the crackling chemistry between Ford and Heflin (who won the Laurel Award as Top Male Action Star), and the intelligent screenplay by Halsted Welles, which retained the distinctive snap of Leonard’s short story. Even Leonard, who was famously critical of films adapted from his work, considered 3:10 to Yuma one of the best, and Peter Ford also counts it a personal favorite among his father’s extensive filmography.
Davis concurs wholeheartedly. “Delmer Daves worked across many genres in a directing career encompassing over 20 years and 30 films,” he said. “His Westerns are quite notable, and many cite 3:10 to Yuma as his best film overall. His astute attention to detail in every aspect of shooting is apparent from start to finish. I think the film’s overall excellence and its reputation as a superb example of the Western genre is what prompted its remake a few years back. As remakes go, I think the new 3:10 was done in a very dutiful manner with high regard for the original story and film.”
Despite having appeared in such classic films as Gilda (1946), The Big Heat (1953), Blackboard Jungle (1955), Ransom! (1956), The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956), Experiment in Terror (1962) and the original Superman (1978), Glenn Ford never received an Academy Award nomination. Yet, his cinematic legacy still burns bright, some 12 years since his death at age 90.
“Glenn Ford’s status as a Hollywood legend is assured,” Davis said. “His career spanned the late 1930s to the early 1990s, which is quite remarkable and speaks to his resonance with audiences across multiple generations. Film critic Stephen Witty has said one characteristic that makes a star is an actor’s ‘connection’ to the audience – the ability of the actor to represent us all. I think this is the key factor that made Glenn Ford so popular and ensures his popularity endures: Everyone feels they can relate to him. I’ve known the Ford family for close to 20 years and had the privilege of meeting Glenn before he passed away. Peter and his wife Lynda are like family to me, and I’ve shared many dinners at their home with some of the legends of Hollywood.”
Regarding the “RiverRun Retro” events, which Davis inaugurated shortly after becoming the festival’s executive director, “(They have) proven to be very successful,” he said. “We were extremely honored with the announcement on Feb. 7 that RiverRun Retro is the recipient of a 2018 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.”
The 20th annual RiverRun International Film Festival is scheduled for April 19-29.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.
3:10 to Yuma will be screened 7 p.m. Feb. 20 at SECCA (750 Marguerite Dr., Winston-Salem). Tickets are $15 (general admission) and $10 (students with valid ID). For advance tickets or more information, call 336.724.1502 or visit secca.org. The official RiverRun website is http://riverrunfilm.com/.