Wednesday, May 22, 2013

186. My Darling Clementine (1946)

Running Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: John Ford
Written By: Samuel G. Engel, Sam Hellman
Main Cast: Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan
Click here to view the trailer


For the curious, I'm going to try and squeeze in a couple reviews today and start to get this train rolling toward the finale. Last night I was able to take in John Ford's 1946 western offering, "My Darling Clementine" - a movie that I had actually seen before and one that I feel is kind of *meh*.

The plot highly resembles a movie I watched earlier this season, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" and tells the story of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and their adventures in the town of Tombstone. This time around Henry Fonda plays the Wyatt Earp role and when we start out, him and his brothers (Virgil, Morgan and James) are driving cattle out west. Along the way they pass the Clanton gang, consisting of Old Man Clanton (Brennan) and his four sons. Clanton offers to buy the Earps' cattle, but they decline and instead get directions to a nearby town, which just happens to be Tombstone. Later that night, the older Earp brothers leave the younger James behind, riding into Tombstone to see if they can rustle up some grub and maybe a shave. When they return to James, later in the night, they find him killed and the cattle stolen. Wyatt and his brothers ride back to Tombstone and Wyatt is offered job as town Marshall, with his brothers serving as the deputies. Wyatt makes it his mission to find the men that killed his brother James, even though it's really no secret that it was the Clanton's. Meanwhile, Wyatt restores order in Tombstone, prompting decent people to come outside again and driving out the miscreants. Wyatt also meets and develops a friendship with Doc Holliday, the gambler of the town and a very sick man, which we see due to his violent bouts of coughing. Like most westerns, it all leads to a big showdown, this time at the O.K. Corral.


Well this is the third John Ford I've watched in just this season alone and I can say that I am definitely not a fan of his. Don't get me wrong, "My Darling Clementine" wasn't bad...but it wasn't great either and with Henry Fonda as part of the cast, that's rare. For starters, I'm just not that thrilled with the Wyatt Earp story as, apparently, everyone else in Hollywood seems to be. Honestly, there's just not much substance to it. Wyatt and his brothers are good, the Clanton's are bad and Doc Holliday fits somewhere in the middle, but mostly he's good. Then, in the middle act somewhere, there's a couple of girls fighting for Doc's attention and throughout the whole thing, the bad guys break stuff and the good guys try not to use their guns. All of the characters seem to fit in these predetermined molds and there doesn't seem to be any room for straying from that. There's just no surprises and it all gets wrapped up just the way we thought it would in the first five minutes of the picture. The Clanton's turn out to be the bad guys, Wyatt takes the Marshall job in Tombstone and in the end, it's the Earps (plus Doc) battling it out with the Clanton's at O.K. Corral. No fuss, no muss.

But, then again, Henry Fonda is in there and how can you beat down a Henry Fonda picture. He's probably my favorite actor of all-time, so when I see one of his pictures, I really expect something special and as much as he tried, this picture ultimately just didn't fully deliver. The camera shots were pretty amazing too and I spotted dozens of images that were really capturing magic, mostly far away shots of Earp as he walked in the rain or sat, with his foot propped on a bannister, on the porch. And let me just say this, I really thought the whole cast did a fine job, not just Fonda. I liked Ward Bond, Victor Mature, Linda Darnell and even Walter Brennan. I mean, who'd have thought this guy could actually play a decent villain, but he totally pulled it off. I cannot believe this is the same bumbling idiot from those Howard Hawks movies.

RATING: 6.5/10  Not good, not bad, but just sort of easing into the dead zone. However, after "Henry V" and "Ivan the Terrible", seeing Henry Fonda bust out his acting chops was a breath of fresh air.


May 22, 2013  12:57pm

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