on January 6, 2004
"My Darling Clementine" is the tragic western/melodrama that pits the likes of Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda)and Doc Halladay (Victor Mature)against the vicious Clanton (Walter Brennan) for a showdown at the O.K. Corral. Linda Darnell cuts a handsome/tragic figure as the saloon hall girl with a heart of gold. On par with "High Noon", "My Darling Clementine" is a western that, once seen, is never to be forgotten.
TRANSFER: KUDOS to Fox. Their DVD is head and shoulders above previously issued VHS and laserdisc versions of this eternal classic. The black and white picture is very well balanced, with solid blacks and an exceptional spectrum of tonal grays. Film grain is evident throughout - as it should be. There are no digital anomalies for a picture that is smooth, solid and wholly enjoyable. Occasionally there is a slight jump in the image, during certain splices or cuts from one scene to the next, but these are vintage imperfections which do not detract from your visual enjoyment. The audio has been remixed to stereo and is nicely balanced.
EXTRAS: We get the original theatrical cut and the preview cut of the film. Apparantly, Darryl F. Zanuck was none too impressed with John Ford's original version - cutting it down by a half hour and altering several key scenes. These are painstakingly re-created by film archivist, Robert Gitt, in a mini-documentary on the making of the film. Very nicely done.
BOTTOM LINE: An absolute must for film lovers and DVD collectors.
on January 19, 2004
Historical only in that the Earps and Clantons indeed had a gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone. Everything else is pure fantasy... fantastic fantasy. Henry Fonda plays a laid-back Wyatt Earp who doesn't mind allowing others their space, but stands firm when they cross the line.
Well scripted, well acted, a western that should appeal even to those who normally wouldn't watch a western. The good guys are well developed, multi-dimensional and likable.
The bad guys, especially usually lovable Walter Brennan, are obviously evil. Enough action, enough intrigue, enough romance.
on August 29, 2011
Great movie, video quality was excellent, a great job on the restoration of the film and the film to DVD transfer. Scenic shots of the desert are spectacular. Fonda was great, as was Walter Brennan, in this film.
on June 7, 2004
Of the many movies that I love and own, this is one of the DVDs I would grab if the house was on fire.
My Darling Clementine is fundamentally about the shootout at the OK Corral, arguably the most famous 30 seconds in American history. But in John Ford's loving hands, the story takes its time getting there and, in the process, becomes as graceful and easily beautiful a piece of film-making as you will ever see.
In this age when movie goers prize realism, sheer violence, and de-mythology, Ford has become something of a whipping boy for those who point out the glaring historical inaccuracies present in Hollywood's traditional portrayal of the American West. These folks miss the larger picture and are the poorer for their narrow, fashionable view. In this archetypal story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and the Clanton family, Ford was not interested in historical detail. He was creating legends, not historical accounts for the archives.
Ford was a film maker. When a movie lover approaches a Ford film, it becomes necessary to give oneself over to the power of film. Once one does that, tremendous pleasures await. Such as: the townspeople of Tombstone having a dance around the skeletal frame of a half-built church while the huge, flat buttes of Monument Valley tower in the background; or Henry Fonda as Earp watching with great sympathy as Victor Mature (Doc Holiday) recites Hamlet's suicide soliloquy in a barroom (as hokey as this sounds, it is Fonda's expression that will move you, I guarantee).
Other images worth mentioning: Fonda/Earp walking alone through the rain of Tombstone at night; or the final shot of Clementine (meaningless in the film other than as a perfect symbol of all the things men love but can never have) standing framed against the Arizona sky and a picket fence - or the way Walter Brennan as Old Man Clanton, flashes through his scenes like a rattler's hiss.
Loving a John Ford Western is a bit like believing in a religion: it requires a leap of faith - a belief in something that might not be tangible reality, but is instead an ideal no less worthy of love.
This DVD is an absolute must for Ford fans, Western fans, or movie lovers. As an extra bonus, the special feature commentary by Ford biographer, Scott Eyman, is absolutely superb. Mr. Eyman's concise and rich commentary is nearly as enjoyable as the film itself. All in all, a real treasure for John Ford fans. -Mykal Banta
on November 2, 2014
Classic tale of Wyatt Erp and the shoot-out at the OK Corral. But more then that it was a classic performance by Henry Fonda as Wyatt. And was there ever a better voice for old man Clanton? More then the gun battle, there was a love story, giving the film its name. I remember the episode of MASH when this movie was played and they all acted out the shoot-out... Classic!
Criterion has done s masterful job on restoring the film to HD quality, stunning B&W. And not only that, bonus features that tell the real story of the Erp family and how the "legend" came to life.
on January 2, 2012
This film is excellent!! Considering that it was restored and half of the footage had to be restored and scenes had to be re edited because footage of the film was either lost or damaged. This is indeed a rare classic. Also the light in this picture is very unique. Any one that loves wester's movies should watch this one. It is action from start to end!!!
on April 14, 2005
My Darling Clemintine
"My Darling Clementine" is one of those films about which so much has been written(including a good Rutgers "Films In Print" entry),that it seems pointless to belabour it's greatness.I award it five stars only because there are no more available."Clementine" is less a story than a series of incidents,and since the purchase of a video implies repeat viewings,this one is a natural for everyone's permanent collection.I'm all for lean,tightly constructed westerns(of which the James Stewart/Anthony Manns are excellent examples),but the leisurely "Clementine"---austere,relaxed,filled with moments that seem utterly spontaneous---has a roughhewn,unrehearsed quality that's all the more surprising in a major studio "A" western.Since we're dealing with Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the O.K.Corall,the narrative does eventually assert itself,if only to steer us toward the final confrontation---but the device involving the stolen "Chingadera" and it's reappearance around Linda Darnell's neck,seems almost an intrusion,taking us away from the simpler moments we've enjoyed(for nearly two-thirds of the running time!),and reminding us that there is a story which must be told and now let's get down to the business of telling it.More telling,however,are the many and marvelous details Ford reveals throughout---check out Doc Holliday's room in the hotel---not only do we see his diplomas,but there are photos of a college rowing team on the water---a wonderfully vivid and underplayed glimpse of Doc's past life.There's delightful scenes of people eating meals---big meals---alone and in groups---whereas in so many lesser westerns,all they do is drink whiskey.I love Ward Bond's frequent recitals of what he's just had,or is going to have,for breakfast.The Clantons may be outlaws,but they have framed pictures in their house and potted plants out front---even in town,they move about with familiar ease(check out the way Brennan walks behind the hotel counter to get his own room key).When the Earps are overlooking Tombstone(a stunning shot)just before their initial ride in,Wyatt regards it all quietly for a moment,follows with a resigned "Let's go..",as if knowing something disagreeable lies ahead.The business with the barber and his "sweet smellin' stuff" has been celebrated elsewhere,so I'll only add that the gag works beautifully for me because it's so underplayed---notice how both Tim Holt and Cathy Downs react to Fonda's explanation of the "honeysuckle"---both could have gone for an unsubtle laugh,and in a lesser director's hands,they might have.Several previous films had dealt with the Wyatt Earp legend---two are outstanding---"Law and Order",directed by Edward L.Cahn,and "Frontier Marshall",directed by Alan Dwan.The fact that neither are available on video points up the sorry state of affairs in home collecting these days---such a tiny portion of our great movie past is out there,and with each new technology being so ruthlessy swept away by the next,it seems unlikely that we'll be seeing many new releases of vintage titles in the near future(if at all).Still,there is "Clementine",and if you haven't already keyed it in for purchase,do yourself(and your viewing friends)a favor and buy it now.This is truly a picture you'll want to watch again and again.
on March 9, 2004
This is arguably the best Western by the best director of Westerns in the history of the genre. Ostensibly the story of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the legendary John Ford gives us a vision of the Old West that is violent yet idealized, frightening yet warm, grim yet majestic. Ford has often been called a visual poet, and the sublime "My Darling Clementine" is perhaps the best example of visual poetry that anyone has ever put to celluloid.
Forget about comparing this film to actual historical events. While Ford knew Wyatt Earp from his early Hollywood days when Ford was a prop boy, and he claimed that Earp told him how the gunfight really happened, he also said he wasn't trying to make a documentary when he directed "Clementine". The "facts", whatever they may be, don't matter here. As the newspaperman tells Senator Ransom Stoddard in Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."
Henry Fonda's Earp is the classic Ford hero, somewhat distant and removed from society, quietly confident and basically nonviolent, but nevertheless commanding the utter respect of others (partly because of his reputation which has preceded him, and its inherent threat of violence). And, most importantly, he is ultimately unable to share in the peace and security that he makes possible for others. Next to his portrayal of Tom Joad in Ford's "The Grapes Of Wrath", this is perhaps Fonda's finest performance. He has never appeared more cool and comfortable in a role, as he laconically and assuredly inhabits the lawless frontier town of Tombstone.
Contrasting Wyatt's sanguine pragmatism, Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) is a haunted, tragic outcast who has uprooted himself from civilization and drifted West. We learn that Doc was once a surgeon (the real Doc Holliday was a dentist, another negligible historical discrepancy), a valuable, functioning member of society, his career presumably cut short by alcoholism, consumption and undisclosed ghosts, which apparently still haunt him.
The Clanton family provides the reason for Wyatt's accepting the job as marshal of Tombstone, by murdering his youngest brother, James, and making off with the Earp brothers' cattle. The miscreant Clantons, like the Cleggs family in Ford's "Wagonmaster", are the personification of evil, demented and motherless. The leader of their clan, known only as "Pa" (ominously played by Walter Brennan), would like nothing better than for Tombstone to remain open and lawless and free for the taking.
Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs) appears as a civilizing angel from the East, who has come to rescue Doc from himself and bring him back to Boston (Ford's eternal bastion of Civilization in the worst sense, invariably inhabited by bigoted grotesques - though Miss Carter seems to have been spared this characterization). The tempestuous Chihuahua (Linda Darnell), who wants to run away with Doc to Mexico, embodies the wild, open frontier.
While the climax naturally takes place at the O.K. Corral, the centerpiece of the film, as in many Ford films, is a dance. Its prelude unfolds majestically as Wyatt and Clementine meet in the lobby of the hotel and begin a stately walk toward the framework of the unfinished "first church of Tombstone", the sound of a tolling church bell and the strains of one of Ford's old favorite hymns, "Shall We Gather at the River" growing louder as the couple approaches the assembled congregation. Like many great moments in great films, the beauty of several elements melding flawlessly to create this sequence defies verbal description.
The church, to Ford, helps legitimize the existence of a community, not only for religious reasons, but as a place where people can come together in fellowship, providing a foundation for that community's future existence. The dance, which takes place on the physical foundation of the unfinished church, is the turning point of the film, and provides possibly the most transcendent moment in all of Ford's work. It is the embodiment of the spiritual establishment of a real and lasting community, which, until the arrival of Wyatt and Clementine, and all that they stand for, had no solid foundation.
Ford's use of comedy, often criticized for its broadness (but of which he was nevertheless proud), is sparing and deft in "Clementine". It is gentler and more restrained than his usual comedic fare, as in the humorous references to the aroma of the eau de toilette which the enthusiastic proprietor of the Bon Ton Tonsorial Parlor has applied to Wyatt's freshly shaven and coiffed person: "I love your town in the morning, Marshal", says Clementine, as she and Wyatt step out onto the front porch of the hotel; "the scent of the desert flower . . ." "That's me," corrects Wyatt, adding, explanatorily, "Barber." There is also the justly praised bit of business of Wyatt doing his seated "dance" on the front porch of the hotel, as he, somewhat passive aggressively, ignores the shrewish admonishments of Chihuahua. This casual, reportedly spontaneous creation of Fonda's (or Ford's, depending on the source) succinctly captures the essence of the relationship between the two characters.
Ford's innately masterful sense of composition and lighting, which he displayed throughout his career, is magnificently displayed in "Clementine". The sweeping diagonal of the bar in the saloon as Wyatt walks to the door after Chihuahua's operation; the expressionistic shadows which constantly envelop the doomed Holliday's face; the somber, monumental tableau of Wyatt and Morgan, bending over the dead body of their brother Virgil in the street at night; all of these images resonate indefinitely in the viewer's memory, and all reveal a visual master in his prime.
Many of the reassuringly familiar faces of Ford's legendary "stock company" are faithfully present, as was nearly always the case - with slight variations - over the years. Ward Bond, Jane Darwell, Russell Simpson, Mae Marsh, J. Farrell MacDonald and the ever-present, ever-endearing Francis Ford, John's older brother and former mentor (and a veteran of Hollywood from its infancy), all add their warm, familial qualities, counterbalancing the darker aspects of the film.
Of all the Westerns I've seen, "My Darling Clementine" is the most eloquent, the most understatedly awe-inspiring - the most poetic.
John Ford printed the legend. Sublimely.
on January 8, 2004
Here is one of the great Westerns, certainly one to stand alongside such giants in the genre as "Shane" and "Once Upon a Time in the West."
"My Darling Clementine" is a beautiful, concise, taut little gem that features one of Henry Fonda's best performances. As tough, taciturn Wyatt Earp, Fonda shines in the role. And he's more than matched by Victor Mature as Doc Holliday. Look at the first scene together, where Earp confronts Holliday over throwing out the tinhorn. It's a classic. And later, when Earp and Holliday save the Shakespearean actor from Clanton's men, and Holliday finishes Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy. This is great acting.
John Ford photographs the landscape with his usual flair; many shots inspire nothing short of awe. Fortunately, the DVD features his "director's cut," which I prefer over the original release version prepared by the studio. Both versions of the film are available, pointing up another value of the DVD format.
The gunfight at the O.K. Corral has been re-enacted several times in several films, recently in "Tombstone" (1993) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994). Ford builds "Clementine" to the confrontation, but the fight isn't as violent or operatic as one would expect. It's restrained, but gets the job done. In its own way, it's as taut and exciting as any of the louder, bloodier incarnations of late.
But, for me, Henry Fonda makes this movie a keeper. His every movement is a study in control. He may not make Wyatt Earp seem like a compassionate individual, but this is a sturdy portrait of heroism that has lasted through the decades. Though I'm excited to see Kevin Costner's version of events again on a future DVD release, for now, "Clementine" does an excellent job of telling the Earp/Holliday story.
on January 7, 2004
One particular scene sums up all that is powerful and great about MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, now finally released on DVD in a crystal sharp print that makes silvery black and white breathe with vivid color. John Ford's fictious film about the epic battle between evil (the savagery of the brutal Clanton clan)and good (the polite and civil Wyatt boys)portrays an America that never was but, in the hearts of romantics everywhere, should have been and-with a great dose of hope and work-could be and should be.
In the middle of the film, the desperate-to-become-civilized citizens of Tombstone gleefully celebrate their blossoming civility by holding a square dance in a just-barely built church. The gallant Wyatt Earp (brilliantly underplayed by Henry Fonda)dances with soon-to-become school marm Clementine underneath both a cloudless sky and the flying colors of "old glory". Watching Fonda and Cathy Downs (Clementine)high step across the rough-hewn church floor to the tune of "Shoo-Fly"-played by a rag-tag bunch of musicians (the saloon plunker amoung them)- fills the viewer with a rush of hope and grace. Perhaps America is big enough for all of our possibilities. We are all works in progress- as is our very nation. At least that is what Ford wants us to think.
MY DARLING CLEMENTINE is a jewel filled with many such scenes of folksy poetry. The performances are all solid- even "beefcake" Victor Mature delivers a passable portayal.
Special mention must be made of Walter Brennan- one of America's finest actors ever- delivering a terrifying against type performance as the villianous "Old Man Clanton". It is as if Grendel's mother is re-incarnated as a renigade cattle baron. He literally drips with deceitful malice. The fact that he is so likable as an actor makes his performance all the more creepy.
Now that this, one of America's finest films, is released on DVD-and at a most affordable price- it is time MY DARLING CLEMENTINE resides in your classic film library.