The film starts out a bit slow but effectively as we're given some exposition and introduced to our characters and their situation. Dan Evans (Van Heflin) is a down on his luck rancher trying to see his family through a nasty drought, volunteers to escort the famed gunslinger Ben Wade (Glenn Ford) to Contention City and put him on the 3:10 train to Yuma, where Ben will stand trial. But danger lurks as Ben's gang is on their tail, looking liberate their leader.
The final showdown in the third act makes it all worth it. Ben is a charismatic criminal; smooth and polite in a sly trickster way, reminding me a lot of Hannibal Lecter. He just keeps tempting or taunting Dan into getting him to let him go free. The situation grows more dire and the suspense sharper as Dan finds himself outgunned and cornered as time is running out. Although Dan has plenty to lose and all the more reason to give up, he stands firm in his principles and refuses to compromise his principles (reminiscent the Biblical Daniel). What convinenced me that this was not a good film, but a great film was a line towards the end that Dan said when his wife begged him to leave the job and come home.
"Honest to God, if I didn't have to do it, I wouldn't, but I heard Alex scream. The town drunk gave his life because he believed that people should be able to live in decency and peace together. Do you think I can do less? "
Much like the classic “High Noon”, we have a lone man standing up for his principles or beliefs honoring that famed quote by Edmund Burke. “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” The two leads work off one another like clockwork, the stakes are high with great suspense and a satisfying conclusion.
Five out of Five. Bravo.