My Darling Clementine
John Ford’s take on the Gunfight at the OK Corral was one of the first of his string of Westerns in the sound era and has a legendary cast including Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp, Victor Mature as Doc Holliday, Walter Brennan as the patriarch of the villainous Canton clan and Cathy Downs as Clementine, whose elegant presence Holliday has run away from in shame and which Earp is beguiled by.
Ford doesn’t emphasise the melodrama of showdown or unrequited romance so much as meditate on the lyrical spaces in between the plot points. My Darling Clementine is simple in its storytelling while transcendent as a poem of rhythms, bonds and values; it establishes heartfelt relationships, interrupts them through brutal violence and poignantly builds a grand statement of the Old West as a landscape yearning to be civilised. It’s a story of ties that bind, bullets that shatter and grace that heals. [Ian Mantgani]