2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best western movie ever made? Maybe...
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.
Published on Aug. 29 2011 by jdw
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Misstep from a Master
John Ford is one of the finest and most influential directors in Hollywood history. Films such as 'The Searchers', 'Grapes of Wrath', and 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' are just some of his enduring classics. Directors as diverse as Kurosawa, Scorsese, and Bertolucci (to name a few) have cited him as a major influence on their own work.
That being said, 'My...
Published on Feb. 17 2004 by coolhandluke1967
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Paced Western,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)I have always put"My Darling Clementine" in my top-ten westerns as do some critics,and after viewing it recently on the excellent DVD version I am considering it to be the best! The alternative version on the disc might not be to everyones taste but westerns should be slow paced(check out the excellent "Open Range")not just shoot-ups added for padding every 20 minutes or so. One of the best scenes in this movie or any other western is the excellent dance scene,especially the moment when Henry Fonda asks Kathy Downes to dance. Definetely Ford at his best and Victor Mature,s best hour as well. Kudos to all for a well produced DVD package
5.0 out of 5 stars Ford Prints the Legend - Sublimely,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked this even though I don't like Westerns,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)This is a great classic for its own sake, regardless of the genre. I'm not really a Western fan, but I wanted to watch this because it is the movie that the M*A*S*H folks are watching (or trying to watch -- their film keeps breaking) in the fifth-season episode, "Movie Tonight." It's use in the M*A*S*H series, plus the rather soppy lovebird title, had led me to believe this was some awful B movie dredged up for the comedy effect. NOT SO! This is a well-acted, well directed film. Others have fone into detail here, so I'll just say this: Try it, you'll like it!
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine, Pure, and Real,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)A true film masterpiece in every sense of the word! Henry Fonda, John Ford, this is what movies are all about! They don't make movies this good anymore. They just don't. "My Darling Clementine" is pure. It isn't fake and doesn't make the critical error of ever trying too hard. It doesn't have to fake a thing: the talent is there in droves!
This DVD is a fine piece of work, and about time too. A good sharp, clean picture, in a fullscreen 1.33:1 screen ratio. The sound is fine as well. There's a "pre-release version" on the "B side" of the disk as well, and a good film commentary track.
This film speaks for itself. It's a beautiful movie. One of the all-time greats. If you haven't, you need to see this movie, at least two or three times in your life. You won't regret it. John Ford was a natural. This is one of Henry Fonda's best roles as Wyatt Earp. I enjoyed it immensely and am proud to add it to my permanent DVD collention.
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars This DVD is a winner all the way,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)Kudos to Fox for another outstanding job in their studio classics series. This DVD has glorious transfers of two versions of the film. The pre-release version is about 7 minutes longer, and has less music than the final version. Most of the added footage does not really make a great difference to the film, but I found that the same scenes without the music played better than they do with it -- more naturalistic and less "Hollywood." A nice little documentary shows the differences, using memos from Daryl Zanuck to explain some of what happened and why. Apparently, Ford's original version was about 30 minutes longer, but those other 20 odd minutes have been lost. The final release version includes an informative commentary by a John Ford expert and by Wyatt Earp III. This is truly one of the great westerns, and a definite must-have for anyone who likes the genre, likes John Ford, and/or is a Henry Fonda fan.
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic and romantic western,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD for Ford Fans,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (DVD)Although My Darling Clementine involves the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and their gunfight with the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, John Ford's focus is at least as much on mood and relationships as it is on gunplay. He is less interested in retelling the historical events accurately, than in evoking the times in an emotionally involving way. Ford's film, as is shown by the title, is as much a love story as it is a story about a gunfight. The fictional relationship between Wyatt Earp and Clementine Carter is the real centre of the film. The gunfights and the action are exciting, but it is the developing love between these two which finally makes the film moving. Their relationship is subtle, tentative and unspoken. It is uncertain whether anything will come from it, but Ford leaves the viewer hoping. He turns what could have been a standard romance into something much more powerful.
The acting in My Darling Clementine is generally very good. Henry Fonda plays Wyatt in his quiet authoritative way using minimal gestures and facial expressions to show the character of the man. Cathy Downs as Clementine shows why Wyatt would prefer her to the more gaudy women of the saloons. Her understated performance matches Fonda's. Victor Mature is pretty good as Doc Holliday showing the character's smouldering temper. He even reads part of Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech and reads it well. Mature was never a great actor, but he makes his character interesting and complex. Less good is Linda Darnell as dance hall girl Chihuahua. She seems out of her depth in this film. Finally Walter Brennan makes a good villain as Pa Clanton.
The Fox DVD is wonderful. It includes two cuts of the film, the release version and a preview version. This preview version runs about 10 minutes longer than the release version, which was edited by studio head Darryl Zanuck. A well-made documentary illustrates the differences between the two versions showing that the changes involved not merely deleting footage, but also adding music and most importantly slightly changing the ending. The Zanuck cut is still a very fine film, but it is great to have the opportunity to see an earlier version of the film which may be closer to John Ford's original vision. The picture quality of both versions of the film is very good, with only one or two signs of damage. The beautiful black and white photography is clear and sharp and often stunning, especially in the views of Monument Valley. The sound is likewise fine, with clear dialogue and hardly any hiss. In addition the DVD includes an informative and interesting commentary by Scott Eyman and Wyatt Earp III, a trailer and a gallery of stills. John Ford fans should be grateful to Fox for bringing out such a fine DVD of one of his very best films.
5.0 out of 5 stars Film making at it's very best!!!!,
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (VHS Tape)This is what I consider film making at it's very best. Probably the best way to approach this film is to see it not as an accurate account of the events leading up to the OK Corral Gunfight, but as a symbol of the life of Wyatt Earp, and of the American West. Ford's story of Wyatt, Doc, and the Gunfight at the OK corral doesn't even come close to being historical correct, but, no matter how unfaithful this movie is to real events, something about it still rings true, that to call the movie a complete fabrication would in turn, be untrue. Ford's biggest alteration of history is to change the relationship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday from friendship to antagonism that is somewhat softened by mutual respect, and eventually evolves into alliance. The genuine tension between Wyatt and Doc strengthens the film. The Marshall and the OK Corral incident have become legends, and it could be said that, in certain aspects, the film aims to turn the legends into mythology. Art (film making) is not necessarily life, readers. It's producing a sound, vivid, entertaining film of high caliber, excellent drama, beautifully cinematography and becomes very entertaining. Let us face it, the Earp family were all criminals, same as the Clantons, but Ford brought the myth into play and brought a part of American West out superbly.. Yes, we do like to turn legends into mythology, even if it isn't historically correct, but when a film brings to the screen the myth, with such excellent scenes, such visual stunning, and good acting, it becomes reality for us for a couple of hours and that is what making films is all about, to be entertaining.
As for the acting, the cast is very strong. Henry Fonda's performance as Wyatt and his locked kneed saunter makes his portrayal all more natural. Walter Brennan excels as the heartless patriarch of the Clanton family, whose sons draw Earp into an unavoidable blood feud. Brennan's performance, like Bond's, is magnificently understated, as is pretty much everything else about this film -- director John Ford imbues every scene with an economy of presentation that takes the western genre into the level of high art. Everything about this film rings true... well, other than the romantic melodrama surrounding 'Doc' Holliday, and Victor Mature's mannered portrayal of the tubercular gunman... with fronteir life evoked with the same richness of detail that Ford later recreated in another black and film we won't mention here. Here, though, the choke of dry dust and sense of fast danger are much more present. The Clantons are a much more sinister set of badmen than Lee Marvin's exaggerated schoolyard bullies; Brennan and his boys simply sidle up and ooze menace and dark violence. A number of Ford regulars such as Russell Simpson, and Linda Darnell provide solid support and there is not one false moment to be found in Cathy Downs' Clementine Carter.
This western is moody and often looks like a western version of a "film noir". The film also delivers the most tension of any Earp film to date, yet remains very touching and sympathetic. For instance, there's a justly famous scene in which the camera watches Wyatt while he builds up the courage to ask Clementine Carter to dance. And he's a picture of languid, dangerous grace as he keeps order in Tombstone while leaning back in his chair and resting a booted foot on a post. Fonda is cool and collected as Wyatt. The patient and deliberate manner in which Ford and Fonda allow scenes to unfold with a minimum of dialog gives this film a quality unique among films of the era, which tended to be filled with vastly more talking than today's films.
Many of the elements that help create the film's effect are common to other Ford films: the extraordinary photography (veteran Joseph MacDonald, though Ford's eye was so good that he functioned as a second cinematographer), the sparse, spartan sets, the rituals that individuals wittingly or unwittingly follow in the concourse with one another, the use of music to create especially powerful moments (in this case, the title of the film as well), the themes of individual responsibility and compassion, and the stellar cast of Ford regulars. But in this film, many of the great moments derive from Ford supporting cast of excellent actors.
Admittedly, the gunfight could use more excitement, but Director John Ford's approach to the final action scenes avoids being overly made-up, a curious choice given the film's nature. But this course of action is correct in order to maintain the film's "down-to-earth" integrity. This film has some excellent entertainment value and probably one of the top five ever westerns made. Ford was the master of filming outdoor pictures in black and white. Several scenes, such as the dance at the church, are visually stunning. Needless to say, the B&W cinematography is typically gorgeous, and Ford never misses a beat in his calm, patient direction. Really, it's beautiful, low-key, has excellent vignettes, but I feel that much of the excellent cinematography will be lost in a small screen. This is a great film from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars superior,
By A Customer
This review is from: My Darling Clementine (VHS Tape)Henry Ford starred as Wyatt Earp in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, directed by John Ford. Set in or near scenic Monument Valley, this is one of the best-acted and best-directed westerns. Fonda's Wyatt Earp and Victor Mature's Doc Holliday stand out as exceptional performances.
Walter Brennan is excellent as the menacing Old Man Clanton.
Of course, the movie ends with the shootout at the OK Corral.
The story of the Earps, the Clantons, and Doc Holliday led to many other movies, but this great Western from the 1940's set the standard.
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My Darling Clementine by John Ford (DVD - 2004)
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