My Darling Clementine

This is one of the few Westerns I enjoy watching (another is Tombstone, which tries to tell the same story of Wyatt Earp and the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral).  After reading the Wiki posts, I was disappointed in how many other people were disappointed with the film.  They disliked it either because it was thoroughly, historically inaccurate (which it was), or that they didn’t like Henry Fonda (which they should), or for whatever other reasons.

It is clear My Darling does not tell the story of the O.K. Corral correctly, so let’s accept that.  It does not mean the movie should be harshly criticized in general.  What this movie does is give the most accurate depiction of the lifestyle of the Old West as it can.  Violence played a big role then (although not as many people died due to shoot-outs as implied in the film), but more importantly the movie gets the scenery of the Old West right.  Every scene (except when you’re inside the bar) is in the backdrop of vast land, canyons, mountains, cacti, etc.  I agree, this movie is not a good secondary source about the history of Wyatt Earp, but it is extremely influential in how future Westerns are made because of its archetypal characters and its dramatic shoot-outs.

Some people have criticized the movie in the same pitch as they did with Pocahontas.  While the criticisms were well-deserved, we should ask ourselves, “what was the purpose of making this film?”  Disney wanted to make a children’s movie, so it had to fabricate much of the history and its figures.  Was Ford trying to target a specific demographic for his movie?  I don’t know, but I do know that if he wanted to give us his most accurate portrayal of Old West lifestyle, then he did his job.  If he wanted to tell the story of the Earp Bros. and the shoot out, then he failed miserably.  However, the film is a great watch for entertainment purposes, if not solely for reaching historical accuracy.

One Response to “My Darling Clementine”

  1. | Zhang's Blog Says:

    […] be harshly criticized in general. What this movie does is give the most accurate depiction of the Read More|||classics like “My Darling, Clementine,” “Barbara Allen,” and “Knoxville Girl,” all of […]

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