John Ford is the director most associated with the classic era of Hollywood Western filmmaking. He is probably best known to modern audiences for The Searchers and Stagecoach both starring the actor most associated with the western John Wayne and both are masterpieces in their own right. Arrow has released one of his best films My Darling Clementine which is also one of his darkest and humanist films in his long and varied career, he won 6 Oscars but not for any of his westerns.
Henry Fonda plays the legendary western Marshall Wyatt Earp who has been depicted in dozens of films. Fonda is an interesting choice because he was a staunch liberal and Ford was a staunch Republican but they got on very well and made many films together. Fonda has the dignity, honour and let’s be honest the acting ability John Wayne lacked (even though he could be great in certain roles) and gives a nuanced performance that shows the transformation that Wyatt Earp has to go through that ends in the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
My Darling Clementine was the first film Ford made after he came back from WW2 and certainly has a more world-weary view of violence than his previous films had. It’s a deeply more atmospheric film than even Stagecoach, it’s shot in stark black and white photography like most of his early Westerns, his most famous use of colour with the western The Searchers is a decade away. My Darling Clementine is often considered the most artful film of Ford’s career and it’s not hard to see why, it’s a deeply meditative film on the nature of violence and the west with a more stylised look than his usual aesthetic to the western. It may be the crowning jewel of Ford’s career and it’s influence is certainly felt on the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sam Peckinpah who cited it as his favourite western.
Arrow has released an impressive package as usual with a couple of documentaries on Ford and the film including a fantastic one presented by If… and O’ Lucky Man director Lindsay Anderson dissecting the film with a class of students. It includes both the theatrical cut and the slighter longer Pre-Release version and even includes another early film on the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Frontier Marshal directed by Allan Dwan. Two radio plays based on the story of Wyatt Earp are included along with a visual essay on My Darling Clementine among other features.
Western, Drama | USA, 1946 | 12 | Eureka! Entertainment| 17th August 2015 (UK) | Dir.John Ford |Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan |Buy:My Darling Clementine + Frontier Marshal [Limited Edition Blu-ray]