A blog dealing with either the joy of cinema or the agony of cinema--nothing in between.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
My Darling Clementine
After Wyatt Earp settled his affairs in Tombstone, Arizona he set out for Hollywood where he would spend the rest of his life. In some regards, he has never left as numerous films have been made about his and Doc Holliday's encounter with the Clantons at the O.K. Corral. Yet before Lancaster & Douglas, Garner & Robards, Russell & Kilmer, and Costner & Quaid stepped into their boots, they were most memorably inhabited by Henry Ford and Victor Mature in John Ford's masterpiece My Darling Clementine. While herding cattle west to California, the Earp brothers stop outside of Tombstone for the night. While Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan go into town for a night of gambling and carousing, they leave their kid brother James to guard the herd, only to find him shot in the back and and left face down in a rain puddle when they return, murdered by the evil Clanton family led by their nasty father (the wonderful character actor Walter Brennan). To exact revenge, Wyatt takes a job as town Marshall, appointing his remaining brothers as deputies. But this isn't a cold blooded revenge tale. It is actually a warm film bristling with humor and romance, and of course hard drinkin' tough talkin' men, and this is what makes the film so appealing. While awaiting the day for vengeance, Earp fines the time to romance the sweet school teacher Clementine Carter, the old flame of the surgeon/gambler/bank robber/tuberculoses infected Doc Holliday who has a penchant for Shakespeare, whom Earp makes an ally. Victor Mature brings a sadness to Holliday in a great performance as the reckless and brilliant gunslinger. Henry Ford, maybe the most affable of all leading men, creates a human Earp, tough as nails but with a tender side. Here, John Ford, who made so many great westerns in so many different ways, finds the right notes to tell his story, ones that aren't seen often in the genre. The result is a telling of the Wyatt Earp story that none have been able to match, and a western that few have been able to approach.