My Darling Clementine (1946)
“What kind of town is this, anyway?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Naturally, this retelling of the infamous “gunfight at the O.K. Corral” — as with nearly every other adaptation — falls far short of the truth of the story; those interested in learning more can read any of TCM’s articles about the film, Wikipedia, or Peary’s lengthy article in his Cult Movies 2 book. As Peary writes in GFTFF, “The real Wyatt Earp was a cad (also he was no marshal), but Fonda plays him as a brave, virtuous, dignified man” who is “so steadfast in his moral beliefs that he’s too predictable”, thus leading to “the morally ambiguous Holliday” being “brought into play”. Peary describes Holliday as a “tragic figure who, unlike Wyatt, cannot accept the advent of civilization because he will be rejected by society when, by all rights, he should fit in — he’s more intellectual, educated, cultured, better dressed than Wyatt”, and “also blessed with the power to cure the sick — but makes no [apparent] attempt to rid himself of consumption”.
In Cult Movies 2, Peary elaborates on “the way people relate to each other in Ford’s west” — that is, “the director’s own version of ‘realism’.” As Peary writes:
Indeed, as fictionalized as all the proceedings are (and boy, they certainly are), My Darling Clementine nonetheless represents an iconic vision of the West — complete with racism (Mexicans and Indians are lower-class citizens) and rampant corruption (a massive set of crimes are committed by the Clantons within the first five minutes). Visually the film is stunning, and the performances are noteworthy as well — but the story-line itself also offers plenty to chew and reflect on as we consider how we have constructed our problematic, deeply complex history of the West.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)
One thought on “My Darling Clementine (1946)”
A once-must, as a solid Ford flick. As per my post (10/14/14) in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):
“Mac…you ever been in love?”
“No – I’ve been a bartender all my life.”
‘My Darling Clementine’ (1946): That exchange above comes almost out of nowhere in this John Ford flick. And it cracks me up. There’s not a lot of humor in this film; that’s not in its nature. And this may be a slighter entertainment for Ford (apparently the studio head tampered with it a bit) but he’s no slouch in serving it up with flair and style. And great photography – it’s beautifully shot in black and white. Maybe I’m a little disappointed in this film for the fact that there isn’t a whole lot in the way of surprises script-wise, though it’s certainly strong enough for what it is. Ford’s way of storytelling is what gives the film extra power and he has a fine cast. I’m esp. impressed with Walter Brennan, here playing a real prick.