Henry Fonda basically reprises his role from Young Mr. Lincoln, but this time in the West. For a quintessential Western, it's funny that most of the film does not fall in line with classical continuity ("How long you staying in town Wyatt?" "Don't know yet"). Meandering yet pretty brief, and characteristically racist, the movie has some nice shots and weird moments.
Kurosawa once said My Darling Clementine is a template for what films can be - and it's hard to disagree with the sensei. Bridges myth and history, allegory and humanity, in a way only the great foundational fables can. Intervening years of romanticism and cynicism have not diluted its power in the slightest.
3,5 The final touch when Clementine's torso's lit to recall a quartered unemblazoned heater shield, a linen breastplate clear of the heraldic signs and engraved name of the unfaithful beau, breathes all her newfound resilience & strength (remember humans were likened to a reed not tree, because the latter's felled by storms while the first lashes back up?) as she emerges from the momentary rigidness of pain. The film
"To be, or not to be, that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, and by opposing end them: to die, to sleep no more; and by a sleep, to say we end the Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that Flesh is heir to?"
Ford's camera is always in suggestion of something better. There is a frontier freedom and beauty in his direction. Vast open skies and expansive desert canvases. It never tries to be anything it isn't, and uses simplicity and technique to grand effect. Ford is an old master for a reason, and it shows his ability to capture perfectly his subject without showiness or anything of the like.
"Sadness, hope, endurance and yearning, Manichaean drama pitting light against darkness. My Darling Clementine approaches allegory [of the experiences of World War II] ... Victory is horrible, and Wyatt must return to the wilderness, to his father (confession; reconstruction), leaving innocence, hope and civilization (Clementine) behind, 'lost and gone forever.'" – Tag Gallagher