Archive for October 29th, 2013


By Jon Warner

Delmer Daves has usually been last in the line of discussion of the great western directors, if he gets mentioned at all. If one were to create a Mt. Rushmore of western film directors, it would look something like this: Ford, Mann, Leone,…..and in most circles Boetticher as well, would probably get all the attention. Maybe the recent Criterion releases of two of Daves’s best films (including this one) will begin to highlight his career more. Those that forget to mention Daves in the discussion are certainly creating an oversight. His films stand among the best of the genre in the 1950’s, as he made a series of fascinating moral masterworks, unlike anything else. Daves’s works often incorporate what I call parables (and even one could label them as Biblical parables of sorts), providing a context and filter through which he examines our instincts, our responsibilities, temptations and our challenges as a human race, thereby taking a moral inventory of human nature. In these ways, Daves carves his own niche within the genre, adding this unique perspective not found in other films. 3:10 to Yuma is his most famous work, if also perhaps his best, weaving moral complexity with significant amounts of tension. It’s an essential western masterpiece that is also a gateway into the rest of Daves’s work. (more…)

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