Orson Welles was once asked to name his three favorite filmmakers. His answer was, "John Ford, John Ford and John Ford." Ford is indeed one of the greats but his reputation, while still formidable, went into something of an eclipse in the 1960s. His films came to be glibly (and inaccurately) associated with no-longer fashionable celebrations of manifest destiny.
Ford is best remembered for The Grapes of Wrath and a pair of Westerns, Stagecoach and The Searchers, but he made at least a dozen other films just as good—out of a 50-year career in which he made more than 100 mostly good films. Cinema Inc. does a fine public service by rolling out his take on Wyatt Earp, My Darling Clementine. Henry Fonda is Earp, and Victor Mature is the consumptive, alcoholic Doc Holliday. The facts are glazed over in this 1946 effort, but that's beside the point in a Ford Western. What he's really after is a poetic evocation of the taming of the wilderness. In some films, he focuses on the tragic aspects of it; here, he sings the song of a couple of chancers who clean themselves up enough to clean up a town. The definitive scene, though, is t he one in which Fonda's Earp dances with the title character on the newly laid floor of a church under construction. This is a membership series, but prorated subscriptions are available. —David Fellerath