MY DARLING CLEMENTINE (1946)

   Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Cathy Downs, Jane Darwell, John Ford (director).
   In theory, John Ford’s retelling of the Wyatt Earp legend and the gunfight at the O.K. Corralwas supposed to be the most historically accurate to date. After all, Ford based his script on Stuart Lake’s authorized biography of Earp, and Lake had interviewed the old lawman extensively before Earp died in 1929. Nevertheless, critics have enjoyed pointing out the film’s inaccuracies through the years. Linda Darnell’s character, Chihuahua, for instance, is evidently not historically accurate nor is Wyatt’s affection for Clementine (Downs). Much of the plot revolves around the women of the film, the hotblooded, dark-haired dance hall girl Chihuahua and the virtuous, blonde Clementine, who comes from back East looking for Doc (Mature). Doc spurns her; nevertheless, Chihuahua flares out her jealousy. Wyatt, meanwhile, is attracted to Clementine. The Clantons, of course, must be dealt with, and so the film builds up to the climactic shootout between the outlaw gang and the Earps and Holliday. Henry Fonda plays a soft-spoken, almost introverted Wyatt Earp while Mature’s Doc is more Earp’s rival than friend. Critics are generally divided over which classic Western treatment of the story is superior, John Ford’s My Darling Clementineor John Sturges’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). John Ireland, a steady character actor, played in both films, first as Billy Clanton and later as Johnny Ringo.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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