20th Aug2015

‘My Darling Clementine’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Ward Bond, Alan Mowbray, John Ireland, Roy Roberts, Jane Darwell, Grant Withers | Written by Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller | Directed by John Ford

my-darling-clementine

It is agreed by many that John Ford directed some of the best Westerns of all time, starring some of the most iconic actors of the time. My Darling Clementine is his take on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday’s friendship, and the Gunfight at the O.K Corral…

Wyatt Earp (Henry Ford) and his brothers Morgan and Virgin ride into Tombstone leaving their brother James in charge of their cattle. When they return to find the cattle stolen and James dead, Wyatt takes the job as marshal, with the aim of staying in Tombstone until he finds the people who killed his brother. Building a friendship with Doc Holliday (Victor Mature), when James’ stolen trinket is discovered the stage is set for revenge.

Henry Ford and Victor Mature work well together, though Mature’s version of Doc Holliday is more fleshed out in the pre-release version of the film and allows him to show off his acting muscles. Playing a role very much in a John Wayne style, his performance as Holliday is that of the anti-hero, with a strong charismatic flair. Ford’s Earp comes across as more innocent, but with a darker edge based on his history. Both characters and actors work off each other well.

Mature’s Holliday is much more interesting with his devil-may-care nature. Knowing he hasn’t got long to live, travelling around the Wild West is a way for the character to escape the life he left behind, though it comes back to haunt him in the form of Clementine (Cathy Downs) a woman who Earp soon falls for. It is interesting that she along with Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) create most of the tension between Earp and Holliday, pushing the plot along when needed.

Arrow Academy’s release of My Darling Clementine on Blu-ray is packed with not only extras about the movie, but also the theatrical and pre-release versions. Along with Ford’s movie, Frontier Marshal is also included, of which My Darling Clementine is the remake. With documentaries about Ford, as well as the movie, this is a release providing everything you need to see just how good a director Ford was, and how well-respected he was by the actors who worked for him.

Watching the two versions of the film I’ll admit that I like the pre-release version more, and this was Ford’s version. When the studio got hold of it, they re-edited it, and while still a classic it lacked some of the comedy and story that Ford’s version had. For people who have seen other films based around Wyatt Earp (Tombstone, as an example) this is an interesting film to watch, and feels less romanticised.

The theatrical cut of the movie is a 4K digital film restoration, which includes the commentary track. The pre-release has also been restored, though just 2K. Not as impressive in quality as the theatrical, it still manages to look good. With so many special features, versions of the films and other materials included in the release, this is a very impressive celebration of John Ford’s work.

For fans of John Ford, and Western movies in general Arrow Academy’s release of My Darling Clementine is a must buy package. The Gunfight at the O.K Corral is one of the iconic Western tales, and John Ford forms a movie around it perfectly. With a package full to the brim with extras, Arrow really have formed a release that fully celebrates the greatness of not only the movie, the actors, but mostly John Ford himself and his take on the Wild West.

***** 5/5

My Darling Clementine is available on Limited Edition Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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