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Fox Home Entertainment presents
My Darling Clementine (1946)

"What kind of a town is this, anyway? A man can't get a shave without getting his head blowed off."
- Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda)

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: January 04, 2004

Stars: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature
Other Stars: Roy Roberts, Cathy Downs. Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Ward Bond, John Ireland, Jane Darwell
Director: John Ford

Manufacturer: Panasonic Disc Manufacturing Corp.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (western violence)
Run Time: 01h:36m:51s
Release Date: January 06, 2004
UPC: 024543103189
Genre: western


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BAB- A

DVD Review

In 1946, when this picture was released, Wyatt Earp wasn't nearly the legendary character that he's become in intervening years. Numerous films centering on the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, not to mention a long-running television series have altered that, but the impetus for all of that is this classic picture by John Ford.

The Earp clan, ex-marshall Wyatt (Henry Fonda), Virgil (Tim Holt), Morgan (Ward Bond) and James (Don Garner) are driving a cattle herd to California when they stop near Tombstone. Before long, the Clantons, headed by Walter Brennan, have rustled the cattle and killed young James, prompting Wyatt to volunteer as marshall for the lawless town and to get a measure of vengeance. Tubercular gambler and surgeon Doc Holliday (Victor Mature) comes to town and forms an uneasy understanding with Wyatt, though that's in danger of being shattered when Holliday's old flame Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs) comes to town and wins Wyatt's interest. But the Clantons are still out for blood, which can only mean a showdown at the O.K. Corral.

Fonda is his usual soft-spoken self, making for a more unassuming Wyatt Earp than we've become used to seeing in the movies. As he's played here, Earp is mostly interested in getting a good shave at the barbershop. Victor Mature seems rather too pretty for Doc Holliday and he doesn't wear the gunslinger part nearly as well as does Fonda. There's an odd interlude where he begins reciting Hamlet that is the high point of his performance, along with some self-pitying over his own mortality. There's no passion in Mature's relationship with Downs, and he just seems purely annoyed with her. Walter Brennan's Old Man Clanton really steals the show with a vile wickedness, though frequent Ford cohort Ward Bond is entertaining as well with his smallish part. Downs' title character is bland to the point of being a nonentity; romantic rival Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) is far more interesting, and it's obvious why Holliday would find her better company.

Despite having a few obligatory John Ford shots of Monument Valley, this picture feels awfully stage-bound for a Western. Precious little of the running time is spent out of doors, leading to a rather claustrophobic air that seems somehow inappropriate and out of scale with other Ford Westerns. The intimacy induced by this setting does cement the focus onto the interpersonal relationships rather than the anticipated action. Unlike most later adaptations, the climactic gunfight here lasts only about the 30 seconds that the real confrontation did. It's an odd bit of trivia to get right in a picture that almost gleefully distorts historical fact (including who lives and who dies at the corral). Even though Ford actually knew Wyatt Earp, who was friends with and consultant to movie cowboys Tom Mix and William S. Hart, either Earp's telling of the tale to him was wildly fabricated, or more likely, Ford felt free to embellish it as he saw fit.

On the whole, this isn't one of Ford's best, but it's nonetheless interesting for historical reasons. There are some beautifully-shot sequences, and the movie's worth watching for Brennan alone.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The original black-and-white full-frame picture looks excellent, as is usual for this series. Blacks are deep, textures are very good and detail is generally quite crisp. Only the most occasional speckle distracts from a near-pristine source print. There's substantial grain but it's not sparkly or badly rendered; it looks like 1940s filmstock. I didn't see any significant edge enhancement or aliasing or artifacting.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both stereo and 2.0 mono English tracks are provided, as well as mono French and Spanish tracks. The soundstage on the stereo track is noticeably broader, but I didn't observe much in the way of significant directionality. Dialogue is quite clear throughout, and music has a decent presence for the period, though of course there's not much in the way of deep bass. A persistent hiss and noise is the primary detraction.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by film historian Scott Eyman and Wyatt Earp III
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Still gallery
Extras Review: This disc features a fairly astonishing extra: a restoration of John Ford's original cut, before it was taken out of his hands by Darryl F. Zanuck and tightened up by over 20 minutes. The differences aren't huge, but they do make a significant difference in the impressions they make. Also included is a lengthy (41m:48s) documentary with esteemed restorationist Robert Gitt of UCLA regarding this rough cut and comparing differences between the two versions. It's a highly fascinating discussion that doesn't shy away from the serious problems facing a restoration of such an intermediate form of a work. Each version is on a different side of the disc, with the longer rough cut getting the dual-layer side of this poorly labeled DVD-14. There's also a still gallery with 16 shots, most of them behind-the-scenes photos.

But that's not all. The theatrical cut also features a full-length commentary that not only discusses the making of the film, technical information about various shots and interpretive materials, but also delves into the real Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday courtesy of Wyatt Earp III. Both have good speaking voices and neither stoops to narration. There are few gaps in the talking and the content is excellent. The result is entirely fascinating and not to be missed.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Two versions of a John Ford classic, a nice transfer and a ton of extras, means that the Fox Studio Classics series has another winner.

 


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