My Darling Clementine Reviews
After recently viewing the landmark picture 'Stagecoach', I decided to proceed on John Ford's western journey with this romanticised vision of the myth of the west, illustrating a somewhat disreputable narrative of Wyatt Earp and his encounters in the Arizonan town of Tombstone, and the looming confrontations that led to the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Firstly, I have to make clear how astounded I was at seeing how much John Ford's technical prowess had evolved in the mere seven years that followed his 1939 hit. Sure, the action sequences of 'My Darling Clementine' don't quite live up to that of his earlier piece, but heck it's not all about that. There's enough invigorating energy in the characters alone to give us our action lust, characters that feel more developed and further emotionally connected with the audience, with the interaction between one another bearing a less forced approach and flowing more naturally. I felt this time that I could relate to the characters, and this is in no small part thanks to the likes of Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs etc. for their captivating performances.
Alike 'Stagecoach, the cinematography and location use is practically flawless, further encapsulating the Wild West we cherish to become part of, grounding us with enthralling and confident performances, further bolstered by the plot's steady development and well-executed pacing.
'My Darling Clementine is a gorgeous film, and there's no wonder as to why the critics endorse it as much as they do. John Ford took the lessons he had attained from his Oscar hits like 'The Grapes of Wrath' and 'How Green Was My Valley' and injected them into the ultimate embodiment of the Wild West we feel so sentimental towards.
The acting is really good. Each character shines through with their wonderful performance. Pretty damn funny at times. Henry Fonda sure plays the role of a marshall pretty damn well. He's the kind of marshall we all wish we had in our cities/towns.
The use and location of Monument Valley sure is one to behold. Even in black and white, it looks beautiful. I hope to one day visit Monument Valley and experience all of it's beauty in the flesh.
The tense buildup to the final coral shoot out was great. There's this silence that fills the air. I can definitely see the inspiration this movie had on Red Dead Redemption.
Overall, great writing, wonderful acting, charming characters, and beautiful location - Monument Valley.
As the character from another John Ford movie says, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Or, as Mark Twain said, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story."
My Darling Clementine is usually on every short list of the greatest westerns ever made, and probably comprises what most people think they know about Wyatt Earp (although Tombstone, no less fictional, may be eclipsing it as a cultural touchpoint). The events of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral were only 60 years old when My Darling Clementine was made, and the only thing in the movie that actually happened was that a bunch of people were once shot at a place called the O.K. Corral. It would be like making a movie today about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg hanging out with Joe DiMaggio and Ernest Hemingway. It might make a hell of a story, but it just never happened.
But then, we knew we weren't watching a documentary. I love this movie as much as anybody. As with most movies that have already been analyzed to death, I'll just chime in with some random thoughts.
As a theater veteran, I can attest that of all the truth-stretching implausibilities that drip from this movie, the biggest whopper of all is that a hammy old actor could have forgotten part of Hamlet's soliloquy.
It's also a stretch that a bunch of yahoos would be raptly attentive of even the finest performance of that soliloquy, let alone from an itinerant hack actor. Let's be honest, most people listening to that speech don't know what the hell it means. They might sit quietly and pretend to be moved, but they're really thinking, "What's a fardel? What's a bodkin? What's a quietus? What's a contumely?" Trust me, just stick to the Who's On First sketch.
It's always interesting to see an actor cast against type. In this case, it's Walter Brennan cast as the bad guy, and he's pretty chilling, too.
Interesting fact - Walter Brennan hated John Ford's guts. John Ford was hard on his actors, and Brennan didn't take to it. This quintessential actor of westerns never again worked with this quintessential director of westerns.
One might also see Victor Mature playing an intellectual to be a nice counter-intuitive piece of casting. More known for his body than his acting talent, this is probably one of his few movies where he never appears shirtless. His Doc Holliday is filled with a morose regret, a lost soul who gains some redemption through his brave defense of his friend. Mature gives this movie his emotional best. He probably never did a better job of acting.
Anyone who loves this movie - or even anyone who doesn't - should make sure to see Support Your Local Sheriff. Walter Brennan parodies his performance as Old Man Clanton in that movie, and he, along with everything else in that movie, is hilarious.
So now, I'm open to suggestions. Should my next project be a Choose Your Own Adventure Wyatt Earp biography, or a screenplay about the Rosenbergs hanging out with Joe DiMaggio and Ernest Hemingway?