Nothing is ever certain until the credits role, and that is something that is never to be sniffed at in the Western genre. Based on a story by Elmore Leonard, this is a tight and tense Western that harks to the wonderful High Noon five years earlier. Directed by Delmer Daves, To Yuma sees two of the Western genre's most undervalued performers come together in perfect contrast.
While the piece also has a tremendous George Duning theme song warbled and whistled by Ford in the film by Frankie Laine. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 April Van Heflin plays rancher Dan Evans whose family and livelihood is at breaking point due to a devastating drought. Great acting, great direction and a great involving story; essential for fans of character driven Westerns.
A man left alone to deal with his adversaries and his own conscience; money or escor indeed. One hopes, and likes to think, that they remade it purely because it was such a great premise to work from.
But as Wade's gang closes in to free the shackled outlaw, and the clock starts to tick down, Evans finds himself torn between a sense of social duty and an easy option courtesy of Wade's mind game offer. The comparison with High Noon is a fair one because To Yuma esccort deals with the man alone scenario.
This coupling makes for an interesting story-one that thankfully delivers royally on its set-up. Because Daves' film didn't need improving, it was, and still is, a great film showcasing how great this often maligned genre can sometimes be.
As Wade's yuma closes in, led by a sleek and escort Richard Jaeckel, Wade toys with Evans, offering him financial gain and gnawing away at him about his abilities as a husband, the tension is palpable in the extreme. His top work, aided by Charles Lawton Jr's photography, also hits the spot, particularly the barren land desperate for water to invigorate it. Heflin's Evans is honest, almost saintly; but ultimately filling out his life with dullness and too much of a safe approach.