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John Ford
Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Ward Bond, Alan Mowbray, John Ireland
Writing Credits:
Samuel G. Engel, Sam Hellman, Stuart N. Lake (book, "Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal"), Winston Miller

She was everything the West was - young, fiery, exciting!

After Wyatt Earp's (Henry Fonda) brother James is murdered by cattle rustlers, the frontier legend becomes Tombstone's marshal and sets out to avenge the younger man's death. Torn between his badge and his fury, Earp confronts the likely killers, the notoriously lawless family of Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan), setting up the famed shootout at the O.K. Corral. Along the way, Earp falls in love with a schoolteacher named Clementine (Cathy Downs), which pits him against the cantankerous Doc Holiday. While My Darling Clementine never loses its dynamism as a hard-hitting western, it is also a tender love story.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
English LPCM Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 10/14/2014

• Audio Commentary with Film Scholar Joseph McBride
• Pre-Release Version of My Darling Clementine
• “Version Comparison” Documentary
• “David Brinkley Journal: Tombstone” TV Segment
• “Today: Report on Monument Valley” TV Segment
• “Lost and Gone Forever” Video Essay
Bandit’s Wager Silent Short Film
• “Lux Radio Theatre” Adaptation
• Trailer
• Booklet


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


My Darling Clementine: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 7, 2014)

Since I really liked 1943’s The Ox-Box Incident, I definitely felt curious to check out 1946’s My Darling Clementine. After all, both offered Henry Fonda westerns, so I figured Clementine merited a look.

Set in 1882, we meet Wyatt Earp (Fonda) as he and his brothers drive their cattle toward California. The clan includes James (Earle Fox), Morgan (Ward Bond) and Virgil (Tim Holt). The Earps come upon Old Man Clanton (Walter Brennan) and his son Ike (Grant Withers). They make Wyatt an offer on the animals that he refuses.

While James keeps an eye on the livestock, the other Earps head into Tombstone to clean up and have a few laughs. Indian Charlie (Charles Stevens) shoots up a bar and no one tries to stop him. Wyatt decides to settle it and the town officials try to get him to take over the marshal’s job, but he refuses. We learn that Wyatt once served as the marshal of Dodge City, but he now wants nothing to do with law enforcement.

When the Earps return to their spot, they discover the cattle gone and James dead. Due to this lawlessness, Wyatt agrees to take job and make his brothers his deputies. They suspect the Clantons and set about to prove their guilt.

As he plays poker at the saloon, Wyatt meets bar singer and local floozy Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) and Doc Holliday (Victor Mature), the proprietor of the joint. Since both men’s reputations precede them, they display tense interactions, but they soon come to a truce and seem to become buddies.

However, problems arise again when Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs) comes to town to see Holliday. Wyatt clearly becomes smitten with her, but we discover she’s an ex of Holliday’s who tracked him to Tombstone. He’s not at all happy to see her and he tells her to split, but she stays and gets romantically involved with Wyatt, at least in a gentle way. The rest of the film follows these issues as well as the climactic gunfight at the OK Corral.

As I first started to watch Clementine, I must admit I found it difficult to get into the movie. It starts rather slowly and proceeds at a fairly deliberate pace. The film begins with violent tension and one assumes that it’ll follow along those lines, but it doesn’t. The subplot about the Clantons goes by the wayside for much of the flick as the story pursues other topics.

Initially this frustrated me and seemed to make little sense. After all, few want to watch a western to see idle dilly-dallying and whatnot. The flick takes its time to go where it wants to go, and this can make it seem unfocused.

However, despite these slow moments, Clementine makes sense in the end. The movie comes across as simple and understated. It flows well as it moves from romance to pathos to tense drama smoothly.

Clementine includes more of an emphasis on character interaction than other elements, which seems like an interesting way to go. This gives the movie a nice heft and sense of reality. It lacked glibness or campiness and took things just seriously enough to work.

Fonda helps bring depth to the flick as well. He gives Wyatt a sense of kindness and gentleness but backs this up with power and quiet menace. He never seems like a movie tough guy, but he also avoids coming across like a simp. Wyatt starts out as bitter and angry but slowly softens, and Fonda brings this across naturally.

My Darling Clementine draws in the viewer slowly and remains a quietly effective effort. Don’t go into it with expectations for great action/adventure and you’ll likely find much more to like about it. The flick does take a while to go anywhere, but it ends in a satisfying manner.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+

My Darling Clementine appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film came with a splendid transfer.

Sharpness appeared positive. Any softness was minor and inconsequential, as the vast majority of the movie displayed strong clarity and definition. I noticed no signs of shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. With natural grain, I didn’t suspect any digital noise reduction shenanigans, and print flaws never became a factor in this clean presentation.

Black levels seemed quite deep and rich, and contrast looked concise and well developed. A couple of moderately dense “day for night” shots occurred, but those were unavoidable, and most of the movie showed nice detail in its low-light shots. Across the board, this became a terrific visual presentation.

While not as impressive, the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack held up well over the decades. Dialogue seemed fine, as the lines usually appeared concise and natural.

Music tended to be reasonably peppy and full, as the track reproduced the score well. Effects also seemed pretty good; they didn’t show the greatest range, but they were more than adequate for their age. Nothing problematic occurred during this generally good track.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the 2004 DVD? Audio was more distinctive and clear, while visuals seemed tighter, cleaner and smoother. Especially in terms of the picture, this was an enormous improvement.

The Criterion release mixes old and new supplements. In the “new” category, we locate an audio commentary from film scholar Joseph McBride. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion of director John Ford's life and career and work on the film, cast and crew, sets and locations, visual design, story/characters and themes, historical fact vs. the movie’s fiction, and related areas.

While I’ve heard more complete historical commentaries, McBride still manages to give us a good array of notes here. He adopts more of an introspective look than usual, with an emphasis on the movie’s story/themes as well as how it fit with Ford’s career. We find a nice array of details in this consistently informative piece.

Next comes a very intriguing extra: the pre-release version of Clementine. This last one hour, 43 minutes, 18 seconds and gives us a take of the flick before changes imposed by studio head Darryl F. Zanuck occurred. I didn’t watch this because I didn’t think I’d really see many differences; I’ve only watched Clementine twice over 10 years, so I don’t know it well enough to grasp many variations. Nonetheless, it’s a very cool addition to the disc.

I also felt I could skip the alternate edition because the package includes Version Comparison Narrated by Robert Gitt of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, this 41-minute and 49-second documentary discusses the origins of the pre-release version and details the differences between the two.

Gitt gets into the history of the various editions and we see clips exclusive to the pre-release one as well as comparisons with release material. It’s an interesting and informative program that also serves as a nice short cut for those of us without deep knowledge of Clementine.

Under Print the Legend, we find a 14-minute, 29-second interview with western scholar Andrew C. Isenberg. He covers facts about Wyatt Earp, the events in Tombstone and connected topics. In this commentary, McBride discusses some of this, but Isenberg delivers a more thorough examination and he makes this a good piece.

From April 1963, David Brinkley Journal: Tombstone fills seven minutes, 41 seconds. Hosted by famed newsman Brinkley and with information from history professor John A. Horgan, it looks at the real-life location in which the movie’s events took place. I wouldn’t call this a hard-hitting show, but it offers an enjoyable view of Tombstone.

Another archival TV piece, Today: Report on Monument Valley goes for five minutes, 30 seconds and delivers a view of John Ford’s favorite location. We learn about the valley’s history in this short but informative program.

A “video essay” called Lost and Gone Forever takes up 18 minutes, 12 seconds. Led by film scholar Tag Gallagher, it gives us a mix of movie shots and archival elements as well as comments about parts of the film. Gallagher offers an introspective view of Clementine and turns this into a fairly useful featurette.

A 1916 short film, Bandit’s Wager runs 14 minutes, five seconds. Created by John Ford’s older brother Francis, it gives us a silent western. John Ford himself appears on-screen in a role as well. While I don’t think the flick itself offers much entertainment value, it becomes a fine addition for its historical value.

In addition to the film’s trailer, an episode of Lux Radio Theatre finishes the set. From April 28, 1947, the adaptation of Clementine lasts 58 minutes, four seconds and stars Henry Fonda and Cathy Downs in their movie parts. As expected, this gives us a truncated version of the story, but it turns into a likeable piece of history.

Like all Criterion releases, this one comes with a booklet. The 12-page piece includes an essay from film writer David Jenkins about Clementine. It’s not one of Criterion’s best booklets, but it adds value.

I don’t think My Darling Clementine offers a genuinely great film, as it meanders too much and seems too erratic. However, it comes together well in the end and seems quite satisfying if you meet it on its own terms. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture as well as satisfactory audio and a strong package of bonus materials. Across the board, this becomes a terrific release.

To rate this film, visit the 2004 review of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main