Friday, February 18, 2011

#308: My Darling Clementine

Directed by: JOHN FORD
1946, TSPDT Rank #95

John Ford is widely known as one of the greatest film directors of all-time, possibly America's greatest. Ford has more films on the 1,000 Greatest Films list than any other director, at 17 (!). If you are wondering just why he was such a master, look no further than My Darling Clementine. The western genre is a defining American genre, and this is a film that defines the western genre. It's filled with sincere romanticism, relating the story of Wyatt Earp (played by Henry Fonda), and the shootout at the OK corral against the degenerate Clanton clan (headed by Walter Brennan, in incredible and perfectly menacing form). It succeeds at being both a hard-hitting western and a love story. Both of these story elements feel very natural and realistic, the character's motives all seem completely authentic in the story. John Ford was one of the great composers of film shots, and it shows here. Each frame is perfectly painted with rugged beauty, and the film progresses with conviction and grace. The shootout itself is one of the most sublimely orchestrated scenes in film history.

My Darling Clementine may be John Ford's ultimate masterpiece. In any case, I'd say it's a nearly perfect film, one that will stand testament to the power of film as long as film is around. An absolute must-see.

(Rating: 10/10)

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