Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|My Darling Clementine |
The Ford at Fox Collection
Actors: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan
Director: John Ford
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House, Drama
Henry Fonda, Victor Mature and Walter Brennan star in John Ford's acclaimed film that climaxes with the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral. As Wyatt Earp (Fonda) and his brothers head for a peaceful life of ranching in 1880's... more »
Ford Prints the Legend - Sublimely
Jon Oye | IL, US | 03/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
John Ford's Poetic View of the West
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 02/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're looking for a straight-forward, factual presentation of the events leading up to the 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral', please buy 'Wyatt Earp', or 'Tombstone' from Amazon.com...But if you prefer your history more spiritual, and want to see a master storyteller paint a visual canvas of a West that may never have existed, but SHOULD have, then this film will be a treasured part of your video collection!John Ford knew Wyatt Earp, personally, and was familiar with the events surrounding the Tombstone shootout, but one of his greatest assets as a director was his ability to look beyond simple facts, and focus on legend. 'My Darling Clementine' is a story of icons, of the Loner, battling his own weaknesses, and creating something lasting, then walking away, to allow Civilization to grow. It's a classic theme in Ford's work (he would return to it in 'The Searchers', and 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance'), as well as in many other directors' westerns ('Shane', 'A Fistful of Dollars', 'The Wild Bunch').While Wyatt Earp (wonderfully portrayed by Henry Fonda) is surrounded by his brothers in the film, he has an aloofness that makes his character both complex, and enigmatic at the same time. At the film's start, he's a cowpuncher, who had walked away from the responsibilities of being a lawman, finding satisfaction in the hard work and solitary life of the range. When the Clantons (led by Walter Brennan, in one of his greatest roles), first approach the brothers, while Wyatt accepts an invitation to get a taste of city life, it's clear that it will be a brief stay, before he moves on, and he brushes aside any overtures of friendship.His lack of desire to commit to a larger community is stressed after he barehandedly captures a drunken Indian (based on an actual event in Earp's life), then turns down the Marshal's badge. Only after a brother is murdered do the Earp brothers agree to help clean up the town.In counterpoint to Earp is Doc Holliday (sensitively portrayed by Victor Mature), an intellectual who fled the South, and had found his own solitude by virtue of his guns, his gambling, and his illness. While Earp is a true 'Man of the West', however, Holliday is a fish out of water, truly comfortable only in a crowded bar. He is doomed, more by his own shrinking world, than by the disease that forces him to cough into his handkerchief.The scenes of Earp in the town are wonderful, as Civilization builds around an uncomfortable stranger. Yet Earp toys with the idea of settling into this world, through his politely formal relationship with Doc's lost love, Clementine. The scene at the church dance, where the stiffy formal Earp dances against the vista of a West being 'boarded in' is symbolic of what his own life was becoming, and is classic Ford!The climactic shootout is powerful and raw, ultimately freeing Earp from the constraints of a life that would have been unnatural for him, and ending the downward spiral of Holliday's life, in an heroic gesture.It's often asked why Earp leaves, afterwards, when Clementine and the Tombstone are so attractive...The answer is simple, really; his work is finished, and their future will be constrained into a world of wood and 'progress'. The Loner, the 'Man of the West' would have no place there. Like Ethan, or Shane, he must return to the solitary vistas that are his true home.What a story! What a film!"
Shakespeare in Tombstone
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 06/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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"
Ford and Fonda at their Finest
Mark Wylie | Spokane, WA United States | 03/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""My Darling Clementine" has to rank as one of John Ford's three or four finest films, as well as one of Henry Fonda's finest performances. It is only incidentally about the Gunfight at the OK Corral--rather than attempt a factual retelling of the gunfight, Ford uses the story of the Earps, Doc Holliday, and the Clantons to illustrate the sacrifices that have to be made in order for the West to be civilized.This theme of sacrifice runs through many of Ford's Westerns--see also "Wagonmaster" and "The Searchers," for example. In order for the malevolent lawlessness symbolized by the Clantons to be driven out, there are some others, not malevolent themselves, who are nevertheless doomed by their inability to adapt to civilization (Doc Holliday). Wyatt represents those who must give up something they love--any hope of a future with Clementine Carter--in order to continue doing things that need doing.As previous reviewers have noted, Ford's account is a far cry from the historical events of the OK Corral gunfight. His 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 cast is very strong. Henry Fonda's performance as Wyatt is magnificent. Walter Brennan is equally superb as the malevolent Old Man Clanton, while Victor Mature's consumptive Doc Holliday is, if not memorable, very competent. A number of Ford regulars such as Ward Bond, Russell Simpson, and Jane Darwell provide solid support. The awkward slapstick humor of some of Ford's other films is not a big factor in this one, which is another plus.Ford was the master of filming outdoor pictures in black and white. Several scenes, such as the dance at the church, are visually stunning.Of the half dozen or more films about the OK Corral gunfight, this is by far the finest, with "Tombstone" a respectable, but distant second. I highly recommend it to all."