My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

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DarkImbecile
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#26 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:26 pm

I've only seen the theatrical version, but think I fall closer to Domino's view of this as a middle of the pack effort for Ford that certainly has its quality shots and moments (the Clanton boys lining up on the bar in the foreground in front of Earp, Earp chasing down Holliday's coach, the multitude of shadow-heavy compositions - is this Ford's darkest black and white feature?) but the whole is weighed down by its less successful parts. The final shootout feels slack, Mature's performance isn't uniformly terrible but definitely falls short of the possibilities the role offers, the titular character is more or less wholly unnecessary to the proceedings, and there are a few too many of Ford's signature folksy jokes and musical interludes.

Most significantly, the core myth of the Earp brothers has enough compelling elements worth exploring that are instead glossed over here that I can't help but feel their absence even when trying to engage with the narrative as Ford presents it. Count me among those who largely enjoy Fonda's Earp, but he's presented as such a saint (and his brothers such nonentities*) that the film largely bypasses the question of where justice ends and vengeance begins, an integral part of this story and the creation of its legend that gives it a depth beyond black hat v. white hat heroics.

*James is granted more characterization in his two minutes of screentime than Virgil or Morgan are given in the next 90.

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knives
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#27 Post by knives » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:36 pm

On your last point, yeah. I don't think Ford is at all interested in the dividing line on justice and certainly doesn't engage with it at all in the film. There are other themes he explores instead and those should be the ones the film is judged by.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#28 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 2:08 pm

I don’t disagree with that general principle in the abstract, but as I said, when you’re engaging with a story as well-known and oft-adapted as this one, it’s difficult to ignore the absence of one of its fundamental and common thematic components. It’s not the primary reason the film doesn’t entirely work for me, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t noticeable.

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knives
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#29 Post by knives » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:38 pm

That's entirely your baggage though and how is to say those themes were baked in by that point? From the sound of existing material it sounds like Ford went at this in part because Zucker wanted to reuse the Dwan script (which as far as I recall also doesn't fiddle with your theme) and Ford had known Earp and thought it would be fun to make him into a character. In fact, looking around, this seems to have been only the fifth or sixth film featuring Earp as a character and only the fourth set in Tombstone (two of the other based on the same material as Ford's).

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DarkImbecile
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#30 Post by DarkImbecile » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:55 pm

I’m not disagreeing that it’s my baggage; that’s what I’ve been saying in three posts now, if not in exactly those words (alongside criticism and praise totally detached from that personal perspective). What I’m disagreeing with is the implication that my baggage is unwelcome in a write up of my response to a film I watched. To be frank, since you’re someone who often brings an entire luggage showroom worth of personal context to your writings here (and not at all to their detriment), I’m surprised that you’re blowing me up over this.

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Rayon Vert
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Re: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946)

#31 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:51 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:26 pm
The final shootout feels slack, Mature's performance isn't uniformly terrible but definitely falls short of the possibilities the role offers, the titular character is more or less wholly unnecessary to the proceedings, and there are a few too many of Ford's signature folksy jokes and musical interludes.
I rather thought the action scenes were strong and intense and quite terrific. The middle sections tend to wander but that's part of Ford and of the poetic appeal of the film. Fonda was a great choice to render a solitary hero who has a steely strength as well as a vulnerability. I'm struck at how it's a frequently dark and tough film, but it’s also wonderfully directed with some well-integrated moments of humor. It's also one of his most visually accomplished. I'm in the camp of those who consider it one of his best films.

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