Ben Wade's Last words
December 27, 2008 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Roger Ebert says, in his review of 3:10 to Yuma: "In hard times, Americans have often turned to the Western to reset their compasses. In very hard times, it takes a very good Western. Attend well to Ben Wade's last words in this movie, and who he says them to, and why." Ben Wade's last words are...

"Well, you did it Dan....NO!"

I don't understand why Ebert thinks these particular words are so significant and what they have to do about resetting our compasses.
posted by TigerCrane to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
According to the tongue-in-cheek Editing Room's abridged script, the last lines are:
CHRISTIAN BALE’S KID: Why’d you do that, Crowe?

RUSSELL CROWE: Maybe it’s ’cause I admire him, kid. Maybe it’s because I think he did something brave, and deep down I’m not so bad that I can’t see the virtue in righteous heroism.

CHRISTIAN BALE’S KID: That’s incredibly stupid.

RUSSELL CROWE: It sure is, boy. It sure is.
posted by zippy at 3:37 PM on December 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Zippy.. great grab on that. Although the quote is tongue and cheek, that is exactly what they were after.

Ben Wade respected Dan. He was crippled and he was doing what he needed to do in order to survive. Wade realizes that that is exactly what he's be trying to do as well, but he does it as a "bad guy." He's not bad just to be bad; he chose that path to be a survivor. When Wade volunteers to get on the train, he's allowing Dan and his family to collect the money and be rewarded for his work, knowing he would escape the train on his horse (that he whistled for at the end of the movie).

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. There is a bit of plot diversions throughout, but the great cinematography makes up for that.
posted by namewithhe1d at 4:08 PM on December 27, 2008

"and deep down I’m not so bad that I can’t see the virtue in righteous heroism"

...but bad enough to murder my gang who can't see the virtue of righteous heroism.

The ambiguity of Wade's morality was one of the most interesting parts of the story, for me. He wasn't a completely bad guy, despite protestations to the contrary.

I agree with namewithe1d's take on it, except that I'd add that it seemed significant that Wade liked Dan: he comments several times on the aspects of Dan's nature that he does and doesn't like, and it is also made plain that he didn't like certain other characters, who tended to be pretty shady. So Wade's a pretty good judge of character. If you consider, then, that Charlie Prince, who shot Dan, is one of the least likable characters in the film (but not the least, in my opinion) then it seems that Wade keeps his gang around because they are useful to him, not because he likes them: see also the start of the film when he reacts pretty coldly to the gang member that messes up during the stick up. He basically flips when Charlie kills Dan.

So how much is it Wade's moral compass, and how much is it that he simply likes Dan? The final chase across the roofs almost resemble a budy flick.
posted by nthdegx at 4:48 PM on December 27, 2008

« Older How do I make my TV-enabled computer and HDTV play...   |   Adwords and SEO tips? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.