My Darling Clementine (1946)
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One of the greatest movie Westerns, John Ford's My Darling Clementine is hardly the most accurate film version of the Wyatt Earp legend, but it is still one of the most entertaining. Henry Fonda stars as former lawman Wyatt Earp, who, after cleaning up Dodge City, arrives in the outskirts of Tombstone with his brothers Morgan (Ward Bond), Virgil (Tim Holt), and James (Don Garner), planning to sell their cattle and settle down as gentlemen farmers. Yet Wyatt, disgusted by crime and cattle rustling, eventually agrees to take the marshalling job until he can gather enough evidence to bring to justice the scurrilous Clanton clan, headed by smooth-talking but shifty-eyed Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan). Almost immediately, Wyatt runs afoul of consumptive, self-hating gambling boss Doc Holliday (Victor Mature, in perhaps his best performance). When Doc's erstwhile sweetheart, Clementine (Cathy Downs) comes to town, Earp is immediately smitten. However, Doc himself is now involved with saloon gal Chihauhua (Linda Darnell). The tensions among Wyatt, Doc, Clementine, and Chihauhua wax and wane throughout most of the film, leading to the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral, with Wyatt and Doc fighting side-by-side against the despicable Clantons. Its powerful storyline and full-blooded characterizations aside, My Darling Clementine is most entertaining during those little "humanizing" moments common to Ford's films, notably Wyatt's impromptu "balancing act" while seated on the porch of the Tombstone hotel, and Wyatt's and Clementine's dance on the occasion of the town's church-raising. Based on Stuart N. Lake's novel Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshall (previously filmed twice by Fox), the screenplay is full of wonderful dialogue, the best of which is the brief, philosophical exchange about women between Earp and Mac the bartender (J. Farrell MacDonald). The movie also features crisp, evocative black-and-white photography by Joseph MacDonald. Producer (Daryl F. Zanuck) was displeased with Ford's original cut and the film went through several re-shoots and re-edits before its general release in November of 1946. … More
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Critic Reviews for My Darling Clementine
If ever there was a gateway drug to the happy addiction of Hollywood oaters, this is it.
My Darling Clementine must be one of the sweetest and most good-hearted of all Westerns.
generally considered the Wyatt Earp film against which all others are judged
Ford the mythmaker was at the height of his powers in 1946's My Darling Clementine, but it's a remarkably relaxed and assured piece of work.
The film subtly complicates viewer expectations early on, eschewing clear-cut character rivalries in favor of more complex emotional and social configurations.
Launched the series of masterpieces in the late '40s and 1950s that forever after defined [Ford] as the greatest director of Westerns in history,
John Ford's last film as a contract director for Fox is a perfect western.
The quintessential Wyatt Earp movie and one of the greatest westerns ever filmed.
The first couple of times we saw My Darling Clementine on the late show we watched the beginning, fell asleep in the middle, woke up at the end, and thought we had sat through one of the best films we had ever seen. Then we finally forced ourselves to sta
Vintage John Ford.
That the title mentions neither Earp nor the O.K. Corral is an indication of the lightness with which Clementine carries the legendary baggage of its subject matter.
Wonderful, moving John Ford true classic western
I haven't seen a better docudrama about Wyatt Earp, but on the other hand, the venerated lawman has yet to be the subject of a masterpiece
One of the great American films: a romance about the tug between savagery and civilization that continues to define this country.
There is no clearer distillation of Ford's visual style, thematic concerns, manner of storytelling, and development of character than My Darling Clementine.
The reason My Darling Clementine never seems to stray or lose focus is Henry Fonda
...a relatively laid-back, almost poetic vision of the Old West, its characters and characterizations outshining its well-worn plot.
Audience Reviews for My Darling Clementine
A fantastic telling of the gunfight at the OK Coral. It's brought down ever so slightly by Ford's romanticism of the genre. Too much focus on the ladies distances the characters from, what should be, their heartache. Tombstone will always be my favorite version of this story, and this hits many of the same notes. It's wonderfully shot, and unlike some early westerns, you get a real sense of heat, space, and isolation. Fonda is his typical brilliant self, carrying the film, and capturing Earp's rugged edges. It has a very clean pace, even though, what should be the main focus, is simply the interludes for the bromance/romance.More
My Darling Clementine is yet another testament to the greatness of not only Henry Fonda in an earnest portrayal of Wyatt Earp, but John Ford's legendary directorial ability. The photography in Ford's familiar Monument Valley setting was as always superb but for me, that's kind of where my raving about My Darling Clementine ends. Well, maybe except for the OK Corral sequence at the end and the Hamlet scene. Those were incredible. But Victor Mature was an astoundingly dull Doc Holliday (maybe if I hadn't seen Val Kilmer's turn in Tombstone previously...) and I found it incredibly hard to give a shit about Linda Darnell. Really, how can you get excited and/or aroused by a woman playing a character named Chihuahua? Otherwise, with its great supporting cast I'd definitely agree with anyone putting My Darling Clementine on an essential westerns list.More
John Ford's first movie after WWII, My Darling Clementine lacks the grandeur that makes up his later work. In fact, at times I had to re-check the date on the film, as sets and film quality made it look a decade older than what it was. The film tells the story of the gunfight at the OK corral, with Wyatt Earp (Fonda) and Doc Holiday (Victor Mature). Victor Mature seems miscast as Doc Holiday (I thought Kirk Douglas did a much better job as Holiday, and somehow he fits my stereotypical image of the man) Henry Fonda is a fine Wyatt Earp, but he plays the same character in every film, so it's hard to judge his performance. The script is fine as well, that is, until the title character makes her appearance onscreen and brings the film to a screeching halt. By the time Earp takes Clementine to the church square dance, I was dozing off. There's a B western quality to this film that, while overcome in the long run, does sour the experience a little for me. John Ford and Henry Fonda should be a slam dunk, and while the first half of the film is imminently watchable, the overall feeling is a letdown. Maybe it's like the lighting on Doc Holiday's girlfriend "Chihuahua" (Linda Darnell) as she's being operated on, it just feels like it's out of place.More
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