Combustible Celluloid
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With: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Cathy Downs, John Ireland
Written by: Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller, from a story by Sam Hellman, based on a book by Stuart N. Lane
Directed by: John Ford
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 96
Date: 10/16/1946

My Darling Clementine (1946)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Earpin' U.S.A.

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The lanky, laconic Henry Fonda starred in just as many John Ford Westerns as his colleague John Wayne, but he's more remembered for his well-spoken, upright heroes than for his cowboys. Still, if it weren't for his brilliant performance in Young Mr. Lincoln, John Ford might never have envisioned him for Wyatt Earp. The Earp story My Darling Clementine (1946, Fox) may be John Ford's most achingly beautiful Western.

Earp (Henry Fonda) and his two brothers settle in Tombstone after cattle rustlers murder their fourth and youngest brother. There he meets Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) and enters into a love triangle with Doc's girlfriend Clementine (Cathy Downs). Shot mostly in interiors, Ford gives the film a deep-focus luster -- the few outdoor scenes are just as lovely -- and tones down the action while focusing on the central characters. It's a kindred spirit to Ford's very romantic The Quiet Man.

The beautiful transfer on Fox's DVD release is nearly perfect, marred by only a few lines and flaws. The disc comes with producer Darryl Zanuck's theatrical release cut as well as Ford's preferred version, plus a documentary that explains the difference between the two, and a commentary track by Earp's grandson!

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