My Darling Clementine (1946)

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“Every scene, every shot is the product of a keen and sensitive eye – an eye which has deep comprehension of the beauty of rugged people and a rugged world.”
Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1946

In the early silent era, young filmmaker John Ford met real-life Western legend Wyatt Earp, who recalled the famous shootout involving Doc Holliday and the Clanton gang. Rather than follow strict historical accuracy, however, Ford’s subsequent screen version (as its oblique title perhaps suggests) instead reflects on what the overall story has to say about the coming of community and civilisation to the lawless frontier, suggesting that transition was achieved thanks to brave men like Henry Fonda’s marshal Earp risking their lives.

The final release print was subject to studio tampering, yet the film’s insistence on finding both serious moral drama and folksy character comedy in material that workaday westerns otherwise reduced to programme fodder shows Ford’s filmmaking at its most cherishable.

The same historical events are covered, with less thematic resonance, in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994).

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