Considered one of the greatest classical Westerns, John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) turns an idealized version of the Earp/Clanton shootout at the OK Corral into a story of how the West was won for the good of civilization. Shot on location in Monument Valley in crisp, deep-focus black-and-white, the film opens as Henry Fonda's upstanding yet slightly (and humorously) awkward Wyatt Earp arrives in Tombstone to settle a family score with the murderous Clantons, staying long enough to make the untamed town safe for the new church and schoolmarm-to-be Clementine and enable corrupt, tubercular Easterner Doc Holliday to find a bit of redemption. Yet even as Ford celebrates the possibilities of the new West, he also engages the post-war tendency for Westerns to examine their own myths: for instance, in the expressionistic photography and in Earp's contradictory place between civilization and the wilderness. He knows the way Tombstone ought to be, but he can't settle there himself; the final shootout begins as an orderly ritual but becomes a chaotic montage of death. The "director's cut" discovered in 1994 contains several minutes of excised footage; the ending was reportedly changed due to the reaction of a 1946 preview audience.
by Lucia Bozzola review