After outlaw leader Ben Wade is captured in a small town, his gang continue to threaten. Small-time rancher Dan Evans is persuaded to take Wade in secret to the nearest town with a railway station to await the train to the court at Yuma.
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A psychologically rich western on a small, tense scale. The story is a tale about doing the right thing, even in the face of great adversary, and almost to the point of foolishness based upon a sense of duty. That sense of duty derives not just from a moral standpoint, and a wanting to band together with the community, but also insecurities about masculinity.
Glenn Ford is outstanding in this, playing outlaw Ben Wade as a smooth-talking gangster. Despite the film's much-vaunted leanness, its real strength lies in portraying an interdependent West, where everyone has their price.
Contrasted to its very modern remake, the plot runs smoothly with no distraction and the title song lingers longer than any fleeting entertainment can hope for on its own. A fine production and a solid performance by all involved.
It's worth watching because of the cinematography. The exploration of space through camera movement during the title song or the first arrival at the farm is exceptional, as well as the play with light, shadow and contrast especially while showing faces.
From the impeccable use of space to the almost musical-like feel added by the song, this is another example of how classic Hollywood, free of pretentiousness, was ahead of modern cinema in terms of sheer craftsmanship. The subtlety also extends to Ford's performance as many don't seem to register the fact that he's being very sly and manipulative when he's wooing the female characters.
I didn't like Glenn Ford, especially his lover portrayals with Rita; but the antihero role of this movie perfect suits him. With its' theme music and the song, we can say that Yuma is the little brother of High Noon. and of course, better than the remake. 3.10/5!
This film has all the qualities that make a classic western good: a cool title song, a gripping source story taken from a story by Elmore Leonard, Glenn Ford delivering excellent work in an nontraditional role as a villain and good action. No wonder the film had to be remade 50 years later.