My Darling Clementine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

My Darling Clementine Reviews

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½ June 24, 2016
A classic. A testament to the greatness of John Ford as a director. A highly fictionalized account of the gunfight at the O.K. Coral. Still one of the greatest westerns ever made.
June 14, 2016
With all the classic sharp-shooting and humorous Western conventions you can expect, though drawn out a little long, My Darling Clementine is a more domesticated effort of John Ford.
½ June 11, 2016
Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda) was only passing through Tombstone, Arizona, but that was before a family of cattle rustlers murdered his brother and stole his herd. Freshly appointed as the town's new peace officer after he settles a drunken shootout, Earp sets out for vengeance and finds an unlikely ally in the brooding Doc Holliday (Victor Mature). However, their path to that famous shootout at the OK Corral is complicated by their web of feelings for a prim schoolmarm (Cathy Downs) from Doc's mysterious past. My Darling Clementine is a heavily fictionalized depiction of the most infamous gunfight in the Western mythos, but it's still almost impossible to overstate how deftly John Ford directs his iconic cast. His scenic framing of the Utah wilderness is majestic, his compositions are boundlessly iconic, and his long takes are filled with pregnant pauses that add profound dramatic tension.
May 18, 2016
My Darling Clementine is surely among the most charitable and gentle of westerns.
May 7, 2016
Beautifully shot & Henry Fonda is extremely likable. Yet another John Ford western I'm glad I finally checked out.
½ December 30, 2015
At this point, it may be impossible to cobble together a biography of Wyatt Earp that is not more than 50% fiction. There is likely no human in history whose life story has received more embellishment. It might be interesting to put together a "Choose Your Own Adventure" Wyatt Earp biography that includes all the various stories, facts, fictions and lies, and allow the reader to select which version he wants to follow at points where the narratives diverge.

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?
November 23, 2015
A different take on the OK corral.
November 20, 2015
The best movie about Wyatt Earp.
Super Reviewer
November 15, 2015
Built by Ford, John Ford, with part mythos about the gunfight at the OK Corral, part nostalgia for the generation this film was intended signified by the use of the song of the title, and part myth building for what they wanted to become. I googled the town of Tombstone, AZ and Monument Valley and they're miles apart and yet in Ford's vision they're virtual neighbors. This is perfect filmmaking for projecting what its intended audience wanted to see, a mirror reflection of their loves, and indeed beautiful to behold.
October 18, 2015
A true American film classic if there ever was one. Never mind the historical inaccuracies, that's not what John Ford film are about. To quote from another Ford classic, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." That's what Ford films were about and that's why "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" can be viewed as a perfect coda to Ford's film legacy (though he did have several subsequent films). I'm really not sure what I can say in a review that hasn't already been written before about this film, but it's a staggeringly beautiful western. Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp coming to the town of Tombstone is at his laid back all-American best here. Fonda's performance, which ranges from comic to dramatic to staggeringly violent, is certainly one of his best. While Earp has an easy going manner, there's a simmering violence just below the surface that the audience knows could come out if it's called for. The story is really a revenge picture, with Earp out to avenge his murdered brother on the despicable Clanton family, led by Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton. But this isn't really a revenge film. This is a film about the settling of the west. The town of Tombstone is in the process of being built. Earp brings order to a town that has drunks shooting up the town when he first comes to town, criminal elements control the town and decent folks don't have a place to turn. In Ford's cannon of films, I think this film stands apart from a lot of his film in how suspenseful it is at times. There are some terrific tough guy face-offs that rival the best of Quentin Tarantino; Earp and Old Man Clanton when Earp introduces himself in the hotel lobby, Earp when he first meets Doc Holliday, Earp and Holliday rescuing an actor from the drunken Clanton brothers, and not to mention the most memorable of all film versions of the gunfight at the OK Coral. And that's not even getting into the romantic suspense and tension between Earp and Clementine. But at it's heart, this film isn't an action film. The quiet moments are just as memorable. Linda Darnell as Chihuahua singing "10,000 Cattle Gone Astray" and taunting Earp about his rustled cattle, Earp tipping back in his chair as the stagecoaches come to town (particularly the time he does his insultingly best to ignore Chihuahua as she chews him out), and the church social scene is a classic (it's not a John Ford western without at least one dance scene). Although Ford claimed that this was the most accurate film version of the gunfight at the OK Coral, having listened to first hand accounts of the famous gunfight from Wyatt Earp himself who lived to see himself portrayed in silent films. In reality, the gunfight was two groups of people at opposite ends of a horse coral blasting away at each other and Earp was the only one left unscathed. I'll also mention Victor Mature, who I've never been a fan of, but who is is excellent here as the dying and self destructive Doc Holliday. This is one of my all-time favorite films and just gets better each time I see it. I will say that I'm not sure this is one that will appeal to modern audiences or non-classic film lovers. Some films, like those by Samuel Fuller or Orson Wells, manage to have a pretty modern sensibility to them, but Ford films have a dated quality that is a treasure to classic film lovers, but would probably feel old fashioned to others.
Super Reviewer
½ October 17, 2015
It is a welcome surprise to see a lighthearted Western that places its importance more on the characters than on the famous real gunfight depicted - and the deep-focus shots are beautiful -, but still the film has trouble with maintaining the focus and pacing in the second act.
½ October 10, 2015
Worst adaptation of Wyatt Earp ever.Not one thing in this movie is fact.This was 100% fiction and Fonda as Wyatt is a insult to the memory of the real Wyatt Earp.
July 30, 2015
This is my least favorite of the Wyatt Earp movies. I thought that it was poorly cast, poorly scripted and generally unbelievable. The acting left much to be desired.
½ June 5, 2015
I finally got around to seeing this for the first time. Ford uses black & white like a german expressionist. Fonda, however, left me a little cold in this role. Mature was surprisingly restrained from his usual scenery chewing and poor Cathy Downs has the most thankless role in any major western. But, this has the typical Ford eye for amazing shot composition and a real sense of the American legend.
June 1, 2015
Gorgeously photographed and extremely well-acted classic Western. The perfect way-in to the genre if you're usually averse. Fonda is predictably wonderful as Earp, but the revelation is Victor Mature as Doc Holliday. Tons better than Ford's sclerotic The Searchers.
May 22, 2015
Classic western that, while not historical accurate, holds up as one of the best ever made. Henry Fonda gives one of his many iconic lead performances playing Wyatt Earp as a simple but determined man who gets what he wants, whether it be shave or justice. He's complimented very well by Victor Mature as Doc Holiday, who while doesn't look like someone stricken with tuberculous, captures his tragic demeanor. Behind the camera, John Ford crafts another Western classic (has anyone ever mastered the genre as much as this director?), once again making beautiful use of Monument Valley while crafting a simple story with a dark current (this was the first film he & many of the actors made after serving in WWII). On the surface, this seems like a straight-forward story of good vs. evil but not as clean cut, as not every hero survives. One of the finest Westerns ever made, if a very fictional one.
February 28, 2015
Awesome movies. Not factual but five star movie.
½ January 27, 2015
Ford is just on a different level.
December 31, 2014
Outstanding western. One of the best ever made.
½ December 18, 2014
Not a historically correct version of the Ok Corral but a very good film nonetheless. Some great acting and fun, simply because the story is different.
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