All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
My Darling Clementine
She was everything the West was - young, fiery, exciting!
Wyatt Earp and his brothers Morgan and Virgil ride into Tombstone and leave brother James in charge of their cattle herd. On their return they find their cattle stolen and James dead. Wyatt takes on the job of town marshal, making his brothers deputies, and vows to stay in Tombstone until James' killers are found. He soon runs into the brooding, coughing, hard-drinking Doc Holliday as well as the sullen and vicious Clanton clan. Wyatt discovers the owner of a trinket stolen from James' dead body and the stage is set for the Earps' long-awaited revenge.
"When ya pull a gun, kill a man."
So goddamned fresh. John Ford depicts an entire community - a town at the edge of the world, the skies of Monument Valley as encasement for the unknown - with spectral simplicity, unleashing a strong-willed presence of law and order into a population surrounded by death. And if residents are defined by their environment, then Tombstone is barren in every facet; a ghost town kept alive through alcohol, gambling, and the looming threat of savagery. Ford's images are boundless in more ways than one, delivering direct, uncluttered information via human placement as well as evoking fluid, expansive landscapes with searing poetic flourish. In particular, the gunfights in My Darling Clementine end…
I've heard a lot about you, too, Doc. You left your mark around in Deadwood, Denver and places. In fact, a man could almost follow your trail goin' from graveyard to graveyard.
- Wyatt Earp
I remember a long time ago when pretty much the only way I'd be able to watch older films would be to hope that they'd show on TV. I'd check the listings in the TV guide a week in advance and then flick through the planner setting everything to record, I probably found at least two things a day that the internet deemed 'good'. The reason I mention this is because a lot of John Ford's classics would play during the weekdays alongside the other…
One day, there will be a depiction of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the stories of the Earps, the Clantons, and Doc Holliday that accurately captures not just the spirit of their now legendary lives but also the facts. This is not that film. Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance could be the thesis statement of his work here in My Darling Clementine, in which he depicts the legend that Hollywood birthed regarding Wyatt Earp. I am no expert--I have read a sparse few essays, stories, and critiques about Tombstone and other depictions, but never the direct sources--but I know that this seemingly pivotal moment in American history was nothing of the sort until it hit the big…
"You hadn't taken it into your head to deliver us from all evil?"
My Darling Clementine certainly fits into the western genre, but from the visuals alone you wouldn't be remiss to assume that it had more in common with film noir. The term wouldn't be created to retroactively describe a trend in American cinema for another two years, but the social and cultural anxieties that the new subgenre was rooted in were very much alive. The low-key lighting casts shadows that are deep and dark, and they pervade the frame and reflect the social angst of the time and the existentialism that resulted from World War II.
But the similarities go beyond simple imagery: the little town of Tombstone…
"To be, or not to be"
"You have no right to destroy yourself."
A perfect moment in art, Ford in high poetry; a pinnacle of the medium. Civilization at the gravest cost, melancholy that cannot be subdued, friendships of preciously short duration and profoundly real emotion.
More or less the fundamental Ford text, and as I argue here (as part of its Criterion debut), a cinematic representation containing the ethos of American poetry.
"Mac, you ever been in love?"
"Nope, I've been a bartender all my life."
I have a problem with Ford in that I never know what response he's trying to get out of me. This problem is more pronounced in The Searchers, but it feels like he's always switching between comic and dramatic scenes just because he's bored of each new development. This isn't a huge problem, but it does bother me.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
WARNING: The second and third paragraphs of this review contain spoilers.
The legend of Tombstone and the Battle of the O. K. Corral is possibly the most famous of all frontier epics. I have seen three screen adaptations of the tale-George P. Cosmatos & Kevin Jarre's very stripped down, well-crafted yet highly convention bound Tombstone (1993). Another is the humorous and well acted (with the flaws resting in separate categories) 1966 Doctor Who serial, The Gunfighters, written by Donald Cotton and directed by Rex Tucker. But the best one, beyond doubt, is John Ford's 1946 masterpiece My Darling Clementine. But the reason that Ford's version is definitive, is because it isn't about a gunfight. It's about the interesting relationship between Wyatt…
A landmark achievement in use of the classical style of filmmaking, My Darling Clementine is a difficult film to write about after a single viewing without engaging in useless reverie. From the film's excellent characterization (Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Clementine Carter are all some of the best-written, -acted, and -directed characters in all of cinema) to its immaculate blocking (not Ford's flashiest, but among his most clever) to its moving musical cues, My Darling Clementine stands as one of the pinnacles of the motion picture. I hope to be able to write something more level-headed in the future, but for now, I will have to settle with giving a hearty recommendation.
It's so easy to declare attractive films as looking painterly. It's probably done too much in all honesty and sometimes when not totally warranted (i.e. attractive compositions, but not ones that actually evoke the artistry or dramatic stillness of painting). But I don't think the "every frame a painting" shtick applies to anyone more so than John Ford.
His films are so talky and conversation-based in terms of plot, but the real substance always comes from the pictures. My Darling Clementine's a great Ford film and one of the most brilliant case in points. Fonda on his rocking chair, the two-shot with his brother's grave, the finale with Clementine gazing out into the wilds, the winding track leading into the…
There's a mix of wild spontaneity and slower intensity that comes with a western; a scene can spend minutes in near silence, zeroing in on an altercation, only for a burst of energy and sound to erupt from the screen a moment later. My Darling Clementine has a number of these fun moments, breathing life into the sparse town of Tombstone. As Henry Fonda's character rides into it, a sense of history is clearly felt. I feel like I've only scratched the surface of it.
Challenges Stagecoach among Ford's black-and-white Westerns for the title of most immaculately composed.
Wyatt Earp: Mac, you ever been in love?
Mac: No, I've been a bartender all me life.
I hadn't seen this movie in decades which means I watched it on VHS on probably a 13-inch TV/VCR the first time around. I probably liked the mythmaking a little more the first time around but holy shit this movie is fucking GORGEOUS. In a way I prefer this to Ford's Searchers from an aesthetic perspective because I'm a sucker for noir B&W cinematography and it's hard for me to think of a more beautiful B&W Western. I was also struck by how existential the tone is. It reminded me a lot of darker contemporary films in the following years, as well as later anti-Westerns like The Shooting and (especially) Unforgiven. Good stuff.
This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…