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My Darling Clementine: Wikis


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This article is about the John Ford Western. For the song see Oh My Darling, Clementine.
My Darling Clementine

Theatrical poster
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Samuel G. Engel
Written by Book:
Stuart N. Lake
Sam Hellman
Samuel G. Engel
Winston Miller
Starring Henry Fonda
Victor Mature
Linda Darnell
Walter Brennan
Music by Musical Direction:
Alfred Newman
Cyril Mockridge
David Buttolph (uncredited)
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Editing by Dorothy Spencer
Studio Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s) December 3, 1946
Running time 97 Minutes
103 Minutes
Director's Cut
Country  United States
Language English

My Darling Clementine (1946) is a western film, directed by John Ford, and based on the story of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang. It features an ensemble cast including Henry Fonda, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan, and others.[1]

The movie was adapted by Samuel G. Engel, Sam Hellman, and Winston Miller from the book Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal by Stuart N. Lake. The title derives from the folk song "Oh My Darling, Clementine", which is the theme song of the movie (sung in parts over the opening and closing credits). Whole scenes from an earlier version, 1939's Frontier Marshal, directed by Alan Dwan, produced by Sol M. Wurtzel, were reshot by Ford for this remake.

In 1991, this film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.



In 1882 (the wrong year is marked on the tombstone of James, since Oct 26th, 1881 was the date of the Gunfight at the OK Corral), the Earp brothers (Wyatt, Morgan, Virgil and James) are driving cattle to California when they cross the Clanton family led by the "Old Man". Told of a nearby town, Tombstone, the older brothers ride in, leaving the youngest brother James to watch over the cattle. The Earps quickly find Tombstone a lawless town. When they return to their camp, they find the cattle rustled and James dead.

Seeking vengeance, Wyatt returns to Tombstone and takes the open job of town marshall, meeting with the local powers, Doc Holliday and the Clantons, again and again in order to find out who was responsible. In the meantime, a young woman from Boston named Clementine Carter arrives in town...

It should be noted that, although the characters and setting of the Gunfight at the OK Corral are presented, a great deal of the plot of the film significantly deviates from the actual history. Important plot devices in the film, such as the death of James Earp (who actually died in 1926), the death of Old Man Clanton (who actually died two months before the O.K. Corral confrontation), and personal details about Doc Holliday (who was a dentist, not a surgeon, and actually died years later of tuberculosis), are inaccurately portrayed.


Critical reception

Film critic Bosley Crowther lauded the film and wrote, "Let's be specific about this: The eminent director, John Ford, is a man who has a way with a Western like nobody in the picture trade. Seven years ago his classic Stagecoach snuggled very close to fine art in this genre. And now, by George, he's almost matched it with My Darling Clementine...But even with standard Western fiction—and that's what the script has enjoined—Mr. Ford can evoke fine sensations and curiously-captivating moods. From the moment that Wyatt and his brothers are discovered on the wide and dusty range, trailing a herd of cattle to a far-off promised land, a tone of pictorial authority is struck—and it is held. Every scene, every shot is the product of a keen and sensitive eye—an eye which has deep comprehension of the beauty of rugged people and a rugged world".[2]

The staff at Variety magazine wrote of the film, "Trademark of John Ford's direction is clearly stamped on the film with its shadowy lights, softly contrasted moods and measured pace, but a tendency is discernible towards stylization for stylization's sake. At several points, the pic comes to a dead stop to let Ford go gunning for some arty effect".[3]

In the popular TV series, M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter's favourite film is My Darling Clementine. Clips from the film are shown in the season 5 episode, "Movie Tonight".

The film currently holds a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.


  1. ^ My Darling Clementine at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, "Darling Clementine, With Henry Fonda as Marshal of Tombstone, a Stirring Film of West", December 4, 1946. Last accessed: January 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Variety. Film review, 1946. Last accessed: January 28, 2008.

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