T. it.: Sfida infernale. Sog.: Sam Hellman. Scen.: Samuel G. Engel, Winston Miller. F.: Joe MacDonald. M.: Dorothy Spencer. Scgf.: James Basevi, Lyle Wheeler . Mus .: Cyril Mockridge. Int.: Henry Fonda (Wyatt Earp), Linda Darnell (Chihuahua), Victor Mature (Doc Holliday), Cathy Downs (Clementine Carter), Walter Brennan (il vecchio Clanton), Tim Holt (Virgil Earp), Ward Bond (Morgan Earp), Alan Mowbray (Thorndyke), John Ireland (Billy Clanton). Prod.: Samuel G . Engel per Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
DCP. D.: 102′. Bn.
So familiar is the mythic iconogra phy of the hero within generic conven tions of the western, that one may take Ford’s mythicizing of Wyatt Earp a bit too much for granted, even though My Darling Clementine‘s black, expression ist, music-drama style, closely resembling The Fugitive, is remarkably self-conscious and exaggerated, even for Ford. Earp (like most Henry Fonda roles for Ford) is a hero pure who knows is mind, talk seldom, lopes calmly, gazes steadily, gets the jobs done; his very name inspires gapes of awe. Initially, in the wilderness, he is framed with upward-gazing angles, sky-backed poses, and Monument Valley monuments. Indoors, counterpointed by mournful honky folk tunes, he inhabits a blackness streaked by clouds of cigarette smoke and spotted by gaseous lamps, and is sighted along distant lines of perspec tive. Wyatt combines the godhood of Lin coln, the passion of Tom Joad, the direct ness of the Ringo Kid. Like many others Fordian hero, he comes out of the wilder ness, rights wrongs, and goes on his way. But Ford’s topic is less the hero as arche type than the archetype’s moody sensi bility within a world of contradictions. Outwardly, Wyatt is perennially in pas sage – from black wilderness to white civilization – and in this he resembles Tombstone, which Ford typically seizes upon at a moment of transition in the making of America. “Wide-awake, wide-open town, Tombstone! You can get anything you want here”, says Pa Clan-ton. But the nightly atmosphere of sinful roisterousness, in which nomads throw each other out of town and Jane Dar well’s madam represents distinguished stability, is quickly giving way by day to a community of schools, churches, and Clementine Carters.
Tag Gallagher, John Ford. The Man and His Films, University of California Press, Berkeley 1988