The Wild West: an Analysis of Post-Civil War Tension in John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine”

1554 Words Oct 26th, 2012 7 Pages
Discuss the thematic implications of Doc Holliday and Granville Thorndyke (the Shakespearean actor) in “My Darling Clementine.” What is Ford trying to say about the relation to the civilized East to the unsettled West. (Clementine vs. Chihuahua is relevant here.)

The Wild West: An Analysis of Post-Civil War Tension in John Ford’s “My Darling Clementine”

Following the end of the United States’ Civil War, new territories had becomes states, notably what is now known as the West. The West, iconized by its Cowboys, gunfights, and horses in the years that followed the Civil War, made its way to the silver screen as one of the first genres of movies to be produced. The genre is popularized as a “Western” and is devoted to telling the
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He depicts the landscape of the old West as vast valleys, lonely isolated homesteads, Native Americans sites, small frontier towns and deserted areas to show the wilderness where the old Westerners resided, such as the Tetons and Monument Valley. Another illustration of the West in Ford’s movies is his portrayal of the hostile element that thrived in the area, using guns, duels, violence, human bloodbaths, bank robberies, showdowns, outlaws, sheriffs, stampedes, cattle drives and cattle rustling - to depict the uncivilized West. Distinctive clothing is also one of the devices he relied on to create such an uncivilized, Western portrait. Men from the East appear sharp in fine suits whereas Westerners wear denim jeans, boots and hats.
In the Western context Ford portrays - late 1800s, Texas - the law was implemented by a single man who takes on the role of both the sheriff and the jury. Arrests, executions and the such are all decided on by he who governs the town. Moral integrity, courage, principles, self-sufficiency, gun skills are all main characteristics of a Western cowboy which opposes to the educated, sophisticated portrait of a man coming from the East.
John Ford explicitly shows such a contrast between the East and the West in one of his Western productions, “My Darling Clementine”. Henry Fonda, one of the leading roles, acts as marshal Wyatt Earp in Tombstone to find out who murdered his brother. Victor Mature plays the…