Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 13th, 2015
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1946 (My Darling Clementine), USA, 1939 (Frontier Marshall)
Directors: John Ford (My Darling Clementine), Allan Dwan (Frontier Marshall)
Writers: Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller (My Darling Clementine), Sam Hellman (Frontier Marshall)
Cast: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Cathy Downs, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, John Ireland (My Darling Clementine), Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Cesar Romero, Binnie Barnes, John Carradine, Edward Norris, Eddie Foy Jr., Ward Bond, Lon Chaney Jr. (Frontier Marshall)
BluRay released: August 17th, 2015
Approximate running times: 97 minutes (My Darling Clementine Theatrical Version), 102 minutes (My Darling Clementine Pre-release Version), 71 minutes (Frontier Marshall)
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 aspect ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (All Films)
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English (All Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (All Films)
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK)
My Darling Clementine was directed by John Ford whose other notable films include, The Informer, The Grapes of Wrath, How Green Was My Valley, The Quiet Man and The Searchers. Key Collaborators on My Darling Clementine include, cinematographer Joseph MacDonald (Pickup on South Street, House of Bamboo) and composer Cyril J. Mockridge (Nightmare Alley, Thieves’ Highway). The screenplay for My Darling Clementine was adapted from a fictional biography titled ‘Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal’ written by Stuart N. Lake.
When making movies about historical events or iconic individuals Hollywood tends to glorify the subject matter. And though there often has to be a certain amount of changes made to make any given story translate better on the silver screen. Ultimately such alterations time and again lose sight of the essence of what made the original source so potent.
Fortunately there are always going to filmmakers who hold firmly to their principles and refuse to play things by the book. Case in point, John Ford who with My Darling Clementine creates perfect fusion between source and cinema adaption. And though this film may appear on the surface as yet another film about Wyatt Earp and the legendary shootout at the OK Corral. The end result is something that transcends its source and yet remains grounded in its realities.
At the foundation of this film are the characters which populate this film. And they are all well-defined personas whose motivations are laid bare for the world to see. Also when it comes to this film’s narrative there is a deliberateness to it which allows moments to fully resonate.
As mentioned before though this film bears many of the elements that had become synonymous with the Hollywood western. The film was still light years ahead of its contemporaries. With that being said, while watching this film it becomes immediately clear this film’s influence on Sergio Leone. Areas of influence include, characters action are given more weight than words and how the camera focuses on faces and eyes. Another area where this film stands apart from its contemporaries includes its visuals which are more in line with what one would expect while watching a Film noir.
A few of this film most memorable moments visually include, a scene where Wyatt Earp’s soliloquy while he visits the grave of his younger brother who was murdered at the beginning of the film. Other standout moments include these three key characters, Doc Holiday arrival back in Tombstone after Wyatt Earp has been made the new Marshall, the arrival of Clementine Carter and the scene where Wyatt Earp crosses paths with the Clantons who have just come out of the rain and he announces to them who he is for the first time. And last but most definitely not the least is this film finale at the OK Corral.
When discussing My Darling Clementine one must not overlook the contributions of this extraordinary cast. With this film’s anchor being Henry Fonda’s (Once Upon a Time in the West) performance in the role of Wyatt Earp. Other performances of note include Victor Mature (Kiss of Death) in the role of Doc Holiday and Linda Darnell (No Way Out) in the role of Chihuahua, her character epitomizes ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’.
This release presents all of its content over two 50 GB dual layer BluRay’s. And all three films included with this release have been flagged for progressive playback and all of the film are presented in their intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The theatrical version of My Darling Clementine has been sourced from a brand new 4k restoration. Details always look sharp, contrast and black levels remain strong throughout. And though nighttime sequences tend to be on the darker side, when it comes to shadow detail the overall clarity of the image far exceeds expectations. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
The pre-release version of My Darling Clementine comes from a 2k source. And the source material has not been given the same level of restoration that the theatrical version has been given. Also there are no issues with DNR or compression and there is print related debris that varies in degree throughout. All things considered this transfer still look very good.
Frontier Marshall is given a transfer that is on par with the pre-release version of My Darling Clementine.
The audio track for theatrical version of My Darling Clementine sound clean, clear and balanced. The film’s score sound appropriately robust and dialog always comes through clearly. Another area where this audio mix gets high marks it in regards to its sound effects, most notably gun shots.
The audio track for the pre-release version of My Darling Clementine has some mild instances of background noise and when compared to the theatrical version it is not as robust of a mix.
The audio track for Frontier Marshall has no issues with distortion or background noise and dialog comes through clearly. Also range wise sound effects and score sound the fullest and dialog always comes through clearly.
Extras for this release are spread over two Blu-Ray discs.
Extras on disc one include, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 24 seconds), a stills gallery, a video essay about the film titled ‘Lost and Gone Forever’ with film scholar Tad Gallagher (17 minutes 53 seconds), two documentaries – the first one titled ‘John Ford and Monument Valley’ (56 minutes 53 seconds) and the second one titled ‘Movie Masterclass’ (63 minutes 27 seconds) and an audio commentary with author Scott Eyman and Earp’s grandson, Wyatt Earp III.
The video essay with Tad Gallagher is so much more than an analytical breakdown of key moments and themes from My Darling Clementine. This insightful extra also covers various other films that John Ford directed and how these other films connect with My Darling Clementine.
The extra titled ‘John Ford and Monument Valley’ is a well-rounded documentary which examines John Ford’s favorite location Monument Valley. And this documentary has a good balance of vintage interviews and newly filmed interviews. Also this documentary explores other things that influenced John Ford as a filmmaker.
The extra titled ‘Movie Masterclass’ is a fantastic extra where not only the film is, its key moments are critic with great insight and Lyndsey Anderson sums up why the film on a personal level means so much to him. Also there are comparisons drawn between My Darling Clementine and John Ford’s other films.
The audio commentary is a lively track that is overflowing with insight about John Ford, My Darling Clementine and Wyatt Earp. Content wise author Scott Eyman focuses on John Ford and My Darling Clementine, while Wyatt Earp III provides the information about his grandfather.
Extras on disc two include, a stills gallery and a trailer for Frontier Marshall (2 minutes 16 seconds), two radio shows – the first one titled ‘Lux Radio Theater: My Darling Clementine’ (59 minutes) and the second one titled ‘Hallmark Playhouse: Wyatt Earp’ (26 minutes) and a featurette titled ‘What is the Prerelease Version?’ (41 minutes 52 seconds).
Topics discussed in ‘What is the PreRelease Version?’ include, what scenes were dropped and then re-shot for what became the theatrical version, how these reshoots differed from scenes that were cut, changes that were made to the soundtrack / score and what scenes no longer exist in any form.
Rounding out extras for this release are reversible cover art and a forty page booklet with cast & crew info for My Darling Clementine, an essay about My Darling Clementine titled ‘Shakespeare in Tombstone’ written by Kim Newman, an interview with screenwriter Winston Miller, cast & crew info for Frontier Marshall, an essay about Frontier Marshall titled ‘That Could Have Been Any Frontier Marshall’ written by Glenn Kenny and information about the transfers. Overall My Darling Clementine gets an excellent release from Arrow Academy that firmly entrenches itself as one of the best home video releases of the year, highly recommended.