My Darling Clementine (1946) starring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Ward Bond, Tim Holt, Walter Brennan
Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday clean up Tombtone by taking on the Clanton gang at the O.K. Corral. Meanwhile, Earp becomes smitten with a pretty Eastern lady as Holliday romances a saloon girl in My Darling Clementine.
John Ford (STAGECOACH) takes on the legend of the O.K. Corral shoot-out in this multilayered, exceptionally well-constructed western, one of the director’s very best films. Henry Fonda (YOUNG MR. LINCOLN) cuts an iconic figure as Wyatt Earp, the sturdy lawman who sets about the task of shaping up the disorderly Arizona town of Tombstone, and Victor Mature (VIOLENT SATURDAY) gives the performance of his career as the boozy, tubercular gambler and gunman Doc Holliday. Though initially at cross-purposes, the pair ultimately team up to confront the violent Clanton gang. Affecting and stunningly photographed, My Darling Clementine is a story of the triumph of civilization over the Wild West from American cinema’s consummate mythmaker.
Cast of characters
- Henry Fonda (Young Mr. Lincoln) … Wyatt Earp. The “former” lawman, who’s now driving cattle with his brothers to California. Until the Clintons steal their cattle, and murder the youngest brother. Shot in the back.
- Linda Darnell (Unfaithfully Yours) … Chihuahua. Doc Holliday’s girlfriend, who gets on the wrong side of Wyatt when she’s cheating at a poker game.
- Victor Mature (Demetrius and the Gladiators) … Doc Holliday. The self-appointed lawman
- Cathy Downs (The Amazing Colossal Man) … Clementine Carter. Doc’s former girlfriend, who’s tracked him down from Boston, across the West. It’s only after she finds him that the audience realizes that he’s ill …. An how ill he is. He pushes her away, thinking she’s being noble. And she and Wyatt start slowly being drawn together. Which causes more than a little friction between the two lawmen
- Walter Brennan (Support Your Local Sheriff) … Old Man Clanton. The head of the Clanton gang. He’s dishonest, and vicious. He beats his own sons with a whip … To teach them a lesson, of course.
- Tim Holt (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) … Virgil Earp. One of Wyatt’s brothers, who becomes one of his deputies in Tombstone.
- Ward Bond (It’s a Wonderful Life) … Morgan Earp. The other brother and deputy, Supportive, and trustworthy. A very likable character.
- Alan Mowbray (Panama Hattie) … Granville Thorndyke. The drunken Shakespearean actor, who delivers a powerful soliloquy after Wyatt and Doc rescue him from a crowd.
- John Ireland (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) … Billy Clanton.
- Roy Roberts (House of Wax) … Mayor
- Jane Darwell (The Lemon Drop Kid) … Kate Nelson. The dance hall owner.
- Grant Withers … Ike Clanton
- J. Farrell MacDonald (The Ape Man) … Mac the Barman
- Russell Simpson … John Simpson
- (Oh My Darlin’) Clementine (1884)
- Music by Percy Montrose
- Lyrics by H.S. Thompson
- Played and Sung during the opening credits and at the end
- Also Whistled by Henry Fonda entering the hotel lobby on Sunday morning; stops whistling when he sees Clementine
- Ten Thousand Cattle
- Arranged by Fred K. Huffer
- Played and Sung during the opening credits
- Later sung a bit by Linda Darnell
- The First Kiss Is Always the Sweetest, from Under a Broad Sombrero
- Composer Unknown
- Sung by Linda Darnell
- Camptown Races (1850)
- Music by Stephen Foster
- Played on piano in the bar
- Oh! Susanna (1848)
- Music by Stephen Foster
- In the score when Wyatt is at the barber shop
- Shall We Gather at the River?
- Written by Robert Lowry
- Oh, Dem Golden Slippers
- [Played on the piano in the bar, shortly after Henry Fonda knocks out Doc Holliday]
- Buffalo Gals aka “Lubly Fan”
- Written by William Cool White
- Little Brown Jug
- Written by Joseph Winner
- El Sombrero Blanco
- Written by Alfred Newman
Editorial review of My Darling Clementine courtesy of Amazon.com
The most famous and sublime treatment of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, John Ford’s My Darling Clementine is by any measure one of the most classically perfect Westerns ever made. Henry Fonda plays a hard, serious Wyatt Earp leading a cattle drive west with his brothers when a stopover in the wild town of Tombstone ends in the murder of his youngest brother. Wyatt takes up the badge he had turned down earlier and tames the wide-open town with his brothers (Ward Bond and Tim Holt), all the while waiting for the wild Clantons (led by Walter Brennan‘s ruthless Old Man Clanton) to make a mistake. Victor Mature delivers perhaps his finest performance as the tubercular gambler Doc Holliday, an alcoholic Eastern doctor escaping civilization in the Wild West.
Ford takes great liberties with history, bending the story to fit his ideal of the West, a balance of social law and pioneer spirit. Though the film reaches its climax in the legendary gunfight between the Earps (with Doc Holliday) and the Clantons, the most powerful moment is the moving Sunday morning church social played out on the floor of the unfinished church. As Earp dances with Clementine (Cathy Downs)–Fonda’s stiff, self-conscious movements showing a man unaccustomed to such social interaction–Ford’s camera frames them against the open sky: the town and the wilderness merge into the new Eden of the West for a brief moment. –Sean Axmaker