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Fine, this was probably one of the first movies to feature the shootout but I've seen it a lot by now.
Unfortunately for me, I never quite connected to the characters, so their losses or deaths never saddened me.
It's not a bad movie though, maybe someone else can get more out of it.


Wyatt Earp asks: "You ever been in love, Mac?"

"Nope. I've been a bartender all my life."

Just had to get that out of the way. That's some of the dialogue from this western -- the best rendition of the Wyatt Earp-Doc Holliday saga I've seen.

I mean, after all, it is John Ford.

It has Henry Fonda - the best Wyatt Earp. Strong, silent. But a man of action when action is called for. But just the right action. Why shoot a guy if a thump on the noggin' will do the trick?

Plus a refreshingly malevolent portrayal of Pa Clanton by Walter Brennan. And I thought the guy could only play gimping sidekicks.

A surprisingly good performance by Victor Mature (though I'm not sure he's the best Holliday). He shines in the confrontation over the Shakespeare actor who comes to town.

Add in Ward Bond and Tim Holt as brothers Morgan and Virgil. And the regular Ford stock company and Monument Valley.

This disc has a commentary track by a film scholar (with bits of talking thrown in by Wyatt Earp III) plus a "rough cut" of the film on the flip side. It points out the shortcomings of what could've been an excellent film. Instead it is only merely good.

Problems arose with the studio system of Fox's Darrell F Zanuck exercising his control. He wanted a higher profile role for his starlet, Linda Darnell, who plays the hilariously named bargirl, Chihuahua. But she looks nothing like the tiny, short-haried dog that used to be in the Taco Bell commercials. She is, however, pretty annoying. There are plenty of long lingering shots over her voluptuousness and her song-and-dance routine.

"Why don't you go sing your silly little songs somewhere else," a drunken Doc tells her.

This was back in the day when it was common to cast a white performer in a Hispanic, African or American Indian role. So this only makes the film seem dated.

The "rough cut" and the commentary that accompanies it, points out that Ford actually quit the film and Zanuck rewrote the script, had several scenes reshot and re-edited the film. The alternate version is not a director's cut, but more a working version that is thought to be closer to what Ford had in mind. Actually, the bulk of it isn't that much different. There's a scene of exposition that helps cement ties of Darnell's character to Billy Clanton, but that's about it.

The problems aren't enough to detract from the fine performances by Fonda, Mature and company, and by the time the gunfight scene rolls around, Chihuahua is pretty well overtaken by greater events.

So this remains the strongest of the three Earp-Holliday films I've seen.
Gunfight at OK Corral is too slick for its own good. It was clearly shot on a backlot. Kirk Douglas is an okay Holliday, but he's bit too much of a dandy for my taste. Burt Lancaster is a weak Wyatt Earp. But the film does have Dee "Bones" Kelley in it as one of the other Earp Bros.

Tombstone is just a sprawling mess, though I should give it another chance. Kurt Russell is a strong Earp, as is Val Kilmer as Doc. Gotta love Sam Elliott as Morgan. And watch for a plump little Billy Bob Thornton as the tinhorn gambler who is thrown out of town.

Have yet to see Costner's Wyatt Earp. Saw it for sale in the DVD shop today, but was doubtful it's actually worth purchasing.
***/****

Pro: Mature. Cinematography. The shootout. The sound.

Con: The major storyline gets lost within subplots. The love story doesn't have enough development.
The shootout at the OK Corral is one of America's most well-known and retold legends - even though, of course, it's hard to get the facts straight. It's been the subject of a number of movies from 1957's "Gunfight at the OK Corral" to 1993's "Tombstone" and 1994's "Wyatt Earp". And then there's this one, titled, oddly enough, "My Darling Clementine". All the familiar characters are here. Henry Fonda is Wyatt Earp. A kinder, gentler gunfighter, we get the impression he's seen a lot of blood uselessly spilled, and he'd be just as happy to never have to draw his gun again. In fact, he doesn't even make a point to wear his guns. Besides, brothers Virgil and Morgan have him covered. Victor Mature is Doc Holliday. He runs Tombstone, Arizona, but he does so with a certain code. He's not a bad man, and he has obvious respect for Earp. Mature does a nice job playing the contrasting roles of a gunfighter and sophisticate, even if he does look more like a gangster than a cowboy most of the time. Walter Brennan is the head of the Clanton gang, and his subdued malevolence brings out an even deeper evil. But who's this Clementine, and why name the movie after her? It's safe to say director John Ford knew what he was doing. The arrival of civilization in the Old West is a favored theme in the genre, and Clementine (Cathy Downs) - a girl done wrong by Doc Holliday whom Earp falls in love with - is the civilization symbol this time around. Ford is showing us that the OK Corral was the last hurrah of the Old West. Indeed, whether the cowboys and cattlemen liked it or not, the twentieth century was fast approaching. As far as Westerns go, this is a fine one. The performances are all exceptional, and the scenery is gorgeous. As far as a history of Earp and Holliday in Tombstone goes, I'd recommend reading a book. The movie is exciting, but very wrong. To paraphrase another great Ford Western, though: When the legend becomes fact, film the legend.
Comments pending.
My Darling Clementine



This is a film about politics and business, but the people are what stand out to me. The overall plot is labyrinthe, and I'm not sure if all of it is revealed anyway. Instead of worrying about putting the pieces together, I was engulfed by the cross and double-cross of the CIA, Connex and Killen Corporations, and the Mideast governments. The main players include George Clooney as an American operative who begins to question his motives; Matt Damon as an energy company representative choosing sides amidst tremendous personal turmoil; Jeffrey Wright as an investigator trying to get to the bottom of a questionable merger; Alexander Siddig as the oldest son of a Mideast emir wanting to revolutionize his nation; and Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper, and Tim Blake Nelson as oil and energy company executives. The cast works beautifully, as Clooney and Damon gain acceptance on name recognition alone then make the audience question their allegiances. Finally, Mazhar Munir portrays a Pakistani teenager falling prey to the dangers of fundamentalism, the religious kind as opposed to the political or economic kind bought into by many of the other characters. His tale is most tangential to the main plot, but perhaps it is the most telling and fascinating of all. The film is highly recommended.
Excellent western! Henry Fonda at his best!
What an exceptional Western. It's low key, excellent character development and fine performances from everyone in the cast, particularly Henry Fonda, Victor Mature and Walter Brennan. The cinematography is excellent, as is the score. A remarkable film, expertly directed by John Ford.


Other positives include the just plain fun storyline, and Henry Fonda's performance, as he continues to prove to me that he was one of the best (if not the best) American actor during the Hollywood years. The biggest negatives are the somewhat weak dialogue, and the Chihuahua character.
I am a big fan John Ford, but I was dissapointed in this considering the reviews. Henry Fonda is good in the lead role, but as a whole I found this Wyatt Earp/Tombstone film to be somewhat flat.