This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
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.
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…
"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…
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…
"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."
“They're dead. I ain't gonna kill you. I hope you live a hundred years... so you'll feel just a little what my pa's gonna feel. Now get out of town - start wandering!”
-Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda)
In this retelling of the infamous tale of the Gunfight at the OK Corral, titled My Darling Clementine and helmed by legendary Western director John Ford, Henry Fonda takes up the mantle of the infamous Wyatt Earp.
First things first, it pays to remember that this ‘retelling’ is very loose on genuine historical accuracy of the events depicted, instead opting for a dramatized account of the much versed tale. Whilst details could be seen as scarce anyway, regarding the truth of the fight…
I hadn't realized just how aimless this was on first pass – while many of Ford's films take time to examine dynamics, as opposed to constructed narrative beats, this still feels like his laziest film, but it is all the better for it. After the Earp clan arrives in Tombstone, they're set up for a rivalry with the Clanton's – whom we already suspect is behind their their brother's murder – but there is only one real confrontation before the final act. Instead, Ford elegantly humanizes his characters through crisscrossing interactions, a realistic touch in his mythic west.
While it is not as overtly challenging as The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, My Darling Clementine fits in nicely with Ford's…
Watched with Daniel Kibbe and Gerardo Rivera
A perfect end to nearly eight hours of uninterrupted movies with friends.
(And it was like 10 hours for me because I was watching Fast Five before I picked up G.R.)
Ford shoots nights in the desert town of Tombstone in near perfect dark and with complete elegance. He centers the tale of the shoot-out at the OK Corral, a concept usually shot as ornamented and stylish as possible in films like Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, around four characters. They criss-cross each other for about an hour as we slowly learn more about their relationships with each other as well as how the overall dynamic works between them. They do this until the last twenty minutes when the climax literally rolls in on a stagecoach.
"What kind of a town is this!?" shouts Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda) as he enters Tombstone and has a shave interrupted by whizzing bullets from a nearby saloon.
It's an exuberant introduction that forms the ethos for John Ford's eloquent western and culminates with a killer shootout at the O.K. Corral.
One of the Earp brothers is murdered in a cattle raid and his siblings decide to become Tombstone lawmen. Instead of immediate vengeance, I liked how Wyatt's arc was more concerned with unspoken codes and how he's placed in Tombstone's community. He appears as a drifting wanderer and someone's who's motivations are clinical until the very end.
I didn't find My Darling Clementine to be Ford at his most…
A decent enough western. If you are a fan of John Ford then it is worth checking out. It is the type of film where its simplicity is its main positive. There is some beautiful scenery to behold too for those looking for a visual treat. It is also a good switch-up for those looking for a good classic western but are tired of seeing John Wayne on screen. I think this film does a pretty decent job at highlighting the lawlessness of the land that is often so necessary to portray if one wants to make a good western. If you are on a western kick then its worth checking out My Darling Clementine.
Man, do I love me some Henry Fonda and John Ford.
Another fantastic western from Ford.
"Ma'am, I sure like that name... Clementine."
Just noticed that Earp and Holliday are such BFFs that they wear the same hat for a while, they just fold the crown differently.
The 97 minute theatrical cut. A sensational piece of storytelling. Stripped back and tender - not an ounce of narrative or emotional fat on it anywhere.
The famous gunfight itself isn't glamorised or artificially dramatised - it is brief, and its consequences dealt with in a matter of fact manner. The film concentrates more on the build up than the explosion. The build up to the final showdown; the build up within this climactic set piece itself (with the clinking of Wyatt Earp's spurs breaking the absolute silence, one of Ford's clever contributions to the mounting tension); and the build up of the toils and troubles of everyday life etched into the faces of these characters who we come to…
My Darling Clementine is a beautiful film, yet I don’t quite trust it. I find it deeply moving, but I think it is out to trick me. It creates a vital foundation myth about the United States, yet I don’t share much of its ideals. But I think that in the same way that Double Indemnity seems to be at the centre of all discussions about film noir because it ticks so many of the boxes that define noir, so My Darling Clementine should be at the centre of all discussions about the Western: it is the clearest presentation of the Western world and myth – at least, important parts of it. The Garden and the Wilderness, Civilization and the…
A charming classic
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…