My Darling Clementine: Special Edition (1946)

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Released 18-Jan-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Audio Commentary-Scott Eyman And Wyatt Earp III
Alternative Version-Pre-Release Version
Featurette-What Is The Pre-Release Version?
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1946
Running Time 93:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:51)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By John Ford
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Henry Fonda
Linda Darnell
Victor Mature
Cathy Downs
Walter Brennan
Tim Holt
Ward Bond
Alan Mowbray
John Ireland
Roy Roberts
Jane Darwell
Grant Withers
J. Farrell MacDonald
Case ?
RPI ? Music Cyril J. Mockridge
David Buttolph


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    My Darling Clementine is a beautiful and elegant western directed by John Ford, widely considered the greatest of all Western directors, and starring the legendary Henry Fonda. As befits two great legends of the cinema, My Darling Clementine tells the story of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral at the end of the nineteenth century when Wyatt Earp, his brother, and Doc Holiday confronted the Clantons. However, Clementine is not really about the gunfight, although this is the climax of the film; instead it is the story Earp's friendship with Holiday and his romantic yearning for Clementine Carter.

    Fonda plays Earp, the new marshal of Tombstone, as stolid and upright, a man of principles who will give peace a chance and avoid violence and bloodshed. But he is a man who will not be pushed around by friend or foe. While driving cattle across the vast expanse of the American landscape, shot in Ford's favourite location (Monument Valley), Earp's youngest brother James (Don Garner) is murdered by the cattle-rustling gang of Old Man Clanton and his four sons. Earp decides to stay in Tombstone, takes on the role of marshal with his brothers Morgan (Ward Bond) and Virgil (Tim Holt) as his deputies, until they catch their young brother's killers. It's not long before Earp meets and befriends the famous gambler and gunfighter Doc Holiday, played by Victor Mature in a star-making performance, Doc's Mexican squeeze Chihuahua (Linda Darnell) and the prim and proper Clementine Carter (Cathy Downs).

    The sub-textual thematic that defines the Western genre is the confrontation between civilisation and the savage wilderness of the frontier, enacted with ritualised shootouts between good men, in this case Wyatt and Morgan Earp and Doc Holiday, and evil men, depicted as evil and ruthless by Walter Brennan in a stunning performance as Old Man Clanton, and John Ireland, Grant Withers, Fred Libby, and Mickey Simpson playing his four sons. The figure of Clementine is the antithesis of masculine violence and the hope and future that the Earps and Holiday fight for. As with so many classic Westerns, there will be no place for any of these men, good or evil, once the West has been tamed.

    Loosely based on Stuart N. Lake's book, Wyatt Earp, Frontier Marshal, the screenplay by Sam Hellman, Samuel G. Engel, and Winston Miller has taken a lot of liberties with the facts surrounding the gunfight as well as Earp's and Holiday's lives. The gunfight was not the conclusion to the confrontation between the Earps and the Clantons, the ages of the Earp brothers was different to that depicted, and Holiday was a former dentist, not a doctor. However, the facts should never get in the way of a good story, and My Darling Clementine is a great film by a master of the genre. As succinctly stated in another of Ford's Westerns, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

    This is a new 2-Disc version of My Darling Clementine and, as stated by Tony D in his review of the first Region 4 version of this film, this is the version we should have been given the first time. If you don't have either version, and you love Westerns, this should be in your collection. If you already have the original Region 4 the question is whether to double dip. If you love the film, this new set is worth having. The inclusion of the 'Pre-Release Version' on the second disc, along with other worthy extras, make this a great buy. Unfortunately, this means giving money to a studio that should have done the right thing by their customers in the first place.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disc One:

    This version of the film is identical to the version released in Region 4 in June 2004. To be sure, I sampled the original Region 4 disc, and I found the same running time, the same chapter stops, the same artefacts, and the same layer change. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is almost identical to its original 1.37:1, and is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    When assessing the video and audio transfers of DVDs, I think it is vital to take into account the age and origin of the source material, and I do not hold them up to the same standard expected of more recent films. This year, My Darling Clementine will be 60 years old, and to have a copy of the original theatrical version that looks this good is great news for fans of this masterpiece and the Western genre.

    Sharpness is very good, and only occasionally suffers from softness, usually attributable to the source. There is no troubling low level noise, but more importantly for this film, the shadow details and the depth of the blacks are outstanding. Ford boldly shot entire scenes in which the characters are half hidden in shadow, bringing an almost film noir chiaroscuro aesthetic to the lighting. However, many shots still maintain a great deal of depth and detail, even in the interior shots. This is a black and white film, so there is no colour, but the range of shades between the black and white is always even and pleasing.

    There is a lot of grain to be seen in this transfer, but there is no problem with MPEG artefacts, aliasing, or telecine wobble. However, there is some very obvious edge enhancement, which is a big let down. It is a big disappointment, because a print this good does not need any artificial assistance, and in fact helps reveal the edge enhancement. Ford's stylistic choice to put characters in medium close up against either sun-bright landscapes or the black of the saloon's shadows is compromised by the disconcerting overuse of edge enhancement, and it is the most obvious failing of this transfer. Another troubling problem is contrast, which has been boosted unnecessarily, and is noticeably higher than the transfer on Disc Two.

    Film artefacts are well under control for a film this old, and it is quite obvious the source print has been cleaned up very well, although not subjected to a full restoration. Minor hairs and scratches are present, as you would expect, and the occasional line is present down the frame, but nothing too distracting. At 39:25 - 39:40, and again at 48:52 - 48:59, there is a strange mark at the top of the frame. It is quite faint, but it is noticeably lighter than the rest of the image, and it is a squarish shape. During these same shots there are also some faint dark spots.

    The subtitles are quite accurate and quite often useful in this film, however, they are not always accurate, often omitting words for brevity. In one example, the line, "Oh, is that what they're building?" is subtitled as, "Is that it?", which loses too much to be considered the same meaning. This same mistake is on the other disc as well.

    This is an RSDL disc and the quick and subtle layer change is very well placed during a scene change at 48:51.

Disc Two:

    Disc Two contains the Pre-Release Version, which is very similar in quality to the version on Disc One, however there are some things to note. It is also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is also relatively sharp, and considering this version of the film was found at UCLA in the 90s, it is a wonder that it was in such good condition. It has gone through a restoration process, which is discussed in the extras, but not everything is perfect.

    The same edge enhancement that plagues Disc One is also in evidence here. At 14:51 - 15:41 there is a faint flicker on the right of the frame. At 19:12 - 19:47, a lot of scratches are made obvious because the scene is very dark. And immediately after this scene, from 19:47 - 20:08, there are missing frames, which also results in a jump in the sound and lip sync. These two scenes are not in the Theatrical Version of the film, and as Robert Gitt explains in the extras, although damaged it was considered important to keep them in the film. On the whole, there seems to be a much greater number of film artefacts in this version of the film, which is not surprising.

    This transfer is noticeably a shade lighter than that on Disc One, and also the contrast has not been boosted as high.

    This is also an RSDL disc, however I could not find the layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Disc One:

    There are three audio tracks available with the original theatrical version of the film: the original 2.0 mono (192 kb/s), which was not included on the previous Region 4 release, the same 2.0 surround encoded (192 kb/s) from the previous release, and the audio commentary. I sampled both the mono and the surround, but could not notice a huge difference. I really don't see the point of offering a surround encoded track for what was originally a mono track. Barely anything is sent to the rear speakers, and I didn't notice any examples of the sound being moved to the left or right of the soundstage. Overall, the audio is fine, but sounds somewhat hollow.

    This track is noticeably softer than that on the pre-release version, but can be comfortably turned up. The dialogue is mostly clear, although occasionally the actors mumble their lines, such as Mature, and Darlene has a couple of hysterical lines that are hard to catch. I didn't notice any problems with the audio sync.

    The music is credited to Cyril Mockridge, although according to IMDB, David Buttolph was uncredited. This is not a music-heavy film, and is usually reserved to highlight moments of drama. There is also a fair bit of diegetic music, such as Chihuahua's songs as well as the band in the bar.

    Even with the surround encoded track there is negligible subwoofer activity, but this is to be expected of a film of this vintage.

Disc Two:

    Only one track is available with the pre-release version: 2.0 mono (192 kb/s). This audio offering is very disappointing as it suffers constantly from soft popping, as well as some noticeable hiss. At 6:25 there is a slightly louder pop, and at 39:00 for the duration of a scene the hiss and distortion is quite distracting.

    The music cues are slightly different in this version of the film, and Robert Gitt explains where Ford's choices are more subdued than Zanuck's changes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are not a lot of extras here, but what we do get are very good. Unfortunately, there is no documentary to provide more insight into this magnificent example of the Western genre or John Ford.

Menu

    The menus on both discs are a 16x9 image of Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp and are not accompanied by music.

Disc One

Audio Commentary - Ford biographer Scott Eyman and Wyatt Earp III

    Wyatt Earp III barely gets a say in this commentary, and is heard only a total of (I think) 7 times. Earp's contribution is inter-cut with Scott Eyman, John Ford's biographer, and I can only imagine how upset Earp was when he heard the majority of the commentary was Eyman. Not surprisingly, the biographer sounds just like his title: dry, boring, and scripted. I dislike scripted commentaries, and it is disappointing both Earp and Eyman weren't given the opportunity to provide a joint commentary, which would have been much more interesting. As it is, I can only recommend this commentary to diehard fans.

Disc Two

Documentary (40:16) - What Is The Pre-Release Version?

    This is a very good extra, as Robert Gitt, the Preservation Officer of the UCLA Film & Television Archives, explains exactly what the difference is between these two versions of My Darling Clementine, and how they came about. Both versions of a scene are played back to back to demonstrate the difference, and Gitt also makes reference to memos from Zanuck to help explain why changes were made.

Gallery-Photo

    There are 19 photos and stills from the film and the set, as well as a couple of storyboard images.

Theatrical Trailer (2:17)

    This trailer starts by promoting John Ford as the multiple Academy Award winner for The Informer, Grapes of Wrath, and How Green Was My Valley, as well as being the director of Stagecoach. After this, it is a relatively typical trailer, although somewhat boring. Perhaps it's just hard to translate a slow and beautiful film like My Darling Clementine into an exciting trailer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    My Darling Clementine was released in Region 1 on January 04, 2004, and is almost identical to what we have been offered on the new 2-Disc version. The only difference is the Region 1 is presented on a two-sided disc, whereas ours is on two discs, and the Region 1 also has Spanish subtitles. Most reviews of the Region 1 indicate the same problem with edge enhancement and the audio problem on the second disc. Because the new Region 4 is a nice set of two picture discs, has a PAL transfer, and is probably better priced, it is the version to choose.

Summary

    My Darling Clementine is a masterpiece of the Western genre, directed by John Ford and starring Henry Fonda.

    The video quality is very good, and only really suffers from unnecessary edge enhancement.

    The audio quality is also good, and is typical for a mono soundtrack from this era.

    The extras are very good, and include two versions of the film, a documentary explaining the differences, and a commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Cohen (read my bio)
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPhilips 860, using RGB output
DisplaySony 76cm FD Trinitron WEGA KV-HX32 M31. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationSherwood
SpeakersSherwood

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