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MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Ford
Cast:
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

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

Synopsis:
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.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Stereo
English Monaural
Spanish Monaural
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 75 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 1/6/2004

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Wyatt Earp III and John Ford Biographer Scott Eyman
• Pre-Release Version of My Darling Clementine
• ďWhat Is the Pre-Release Version?Ē Documentary
• Trailer
• Photo Gallery


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RELATED REVIEWS


My Darling Clementine: Studio Classics (1946)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 9, 2004)

Another day, another Fox Studio Classics DVD that features a Henry Fonda western from the Forties. Since I really liked 1943ís The Ox-Box Incident, I definitely felt curious to check out 1946ís My Darling Clementine.

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 take care of it, and the town officials try to get him to take over the marshalís 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. 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 menís 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 immediately smitten with her, but we discover sheís an ex of Hollidayís who tracked him to Tombstone. Heís 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 itíll follow along those lines. However, it doesnít. 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. It 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. Donít go into it with expectations for great action and adventure and youíll 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 DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C (stereo) B- (mono)/ Bonus B+

My Darling Clementine appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Much of the transfer seemed quite strong, but enough problems occurred to knock down my grade to a ďB-ď.

Sharpness mostly appeared positive. Some slight softness interfered with a few shots, but those concerns stayed minor. Otherwise, the image looked reasonably well defined and detailed. I discerned few issues with jagged edges or shimmering, but edge enhancement created some noticeable distractions. Quite a lot of haloes appeared throughout the movie, and these presented the most notable problems with the transfer.

As for print flaws, occasional examples of specks and marks showed up, but very few of these were evident. Instead, the movie mostly appeared nicely clean for an older flick. Black levels seemed quite deep and rich, and contrast usually looked concise and well developed. A couple of moderately dense ďday for nightĒ shots occurred, but most of the movie showed nice detail in its low-light shots. Without the edge enhancement, Clementine would have earned high marks, but even with that concern, it still merited a slightly above average ďB-ď.

As with most of the releases in the Fox Studio Classics series, My Darling Clementine presented both a remixed stereo and the original monaural soundtracks. As with most of the releases in the Fox Studio Classics series, the mono mix seemed noticeably stronger than the stereo one did. The soundfield heard in the stereo version lacked much definition. Essentially the domain displayed broad mono; it spread the audio in a vague manner across the forward channels, but it failed to substantial accuracy or delineation. No really well delineated stereo elements showed up, as the whole thing seemed blandly developed.

Mostly the stereo track just offered a vague echo, though this didnít seem as obnoxiously enforced as in some prior Studio Classics releases. Audio quality appeared fairly decent, at least. Speech remained acceptably distinct and intelligible, though the reverberation made the lines moderately trebly. Effects were somewhat thin and tinny, but they sounded reasonably clean and accurate, and they didnít suffer from notable distortion. The music seemed clean, though the score lacked much range or depth.

The problematic delineation of the stereo spectrum and the somewhat excessive reverberation caused most of the problems related to this mix. Due to those reasons, I preferred the mono track. Speech seemed a little warmer and more natural since it lacked the echo. Effects and music also displayed similar dynamics for both tracks, but the greater focus on the single-channel presentation and the absence of reverberation made the elements sound clearer and tighter. No concerns connected to background noise or other source flaws appeared during either mix. Ultimately, the mono track for Clementine seemed like the more satisfying one.

For this Fox Studio Classics release of My Darling Clementine, we get supplements on both sides of the disc. The package doesnít include tons of extras, but it compensates for quantity with very high quality. Side One includes the filmís theatrical trailer plus an audio commentary from Wyatt Earp III and John Ford biographer Scott Eyman. Both men sit separately for this edited but generally screen-specific piece. Donít expect much from Earp. On a handful of occasions, he tosses in some historical notes, but these are very rare and donít tell us much.

Eyman ably covers all the historical issues related to the events depicted in the film and adds much more. He gets into many different topics. Most of these connect to Ford and his life, work, and techniques. Eyman also discusses issues connected to the shooting of the film, its location, cast, changes made to various cuts of the flick, movie themes, and much more. Obviously working from pre-written information, very little dead air appears as Eyman goes through a great number of subjects efficiently and helpfully. He makes this a valuable and enlightening piece.

When we move to Side Two, we get a very intriguing extra: the pre-release version of Clementine. This last 103 minutes and gives us a take of the flick before changes imposed by studio head Darryl F. Zanuck occurred. I didnít watch this because I didnít think Iíd really see many differences; Iíve only watched Clementine once, so I donít know it well enough to grasp many variations. Nonetheless, itís a very cool addition to the DVD.

I also felt I could skip the alternate edition because the package includes What Is the Pre-release Version Narrated by Robert Gitt of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, this 41-minute and 48-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. Itís an interesting and informative program that also serves as a nice short cut for those of us without deep knowledge of Clementine.

Side Two ends with a Still Gallery. This includes 18 images, most of which present shots from the set. We also get one conceptual sketch. Itís a decent collection but not anything special.

I donít 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 DVD provides decent but unspectacular picture and sound plus a nice roster of extras highlighted by an alternate cut of the movie. I donít feel totally wild about Clementine, but both the flick and the disc seem good enough for me to recommend them.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5666 Stars Number of Votes: 30
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