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

Topics: Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, American Old West Pages: 4 (1554 words) Published: October 26, 2012
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 stories or myths that prevailed the American Old West in the latter half of the nineteenth century. John Ford, one of the film industry’s most celebrated directors, was one of its pioneers. His notable Western, “My Darling Clementine”, portrays Post-Civil War East-versus-West differences through its clever plot and use of characters. Ford, or “the King of Westerns”, a Maine-born director, made his way to the West by following his brother Francis to California in 1914 and joining him in the cinematography industry. Starting as a minor actor, Ford was not too successful until he was shooting behind the lens, rather than in front. In 1939 Ford released his first Western with sound “Stagecoach”, appreciated as one of the best Westerns produced. He then carried on and released many Western movies such as “The Searchers”, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, “Red River”, “My Darling Clementine” and many more. In his Westerns, Ford emphasizes the occupation of the wilderness and the relegation of nature in the name of civilization, which was mostly the case in the Old West. A motif in his films are his implicit comparisons between the East and West, exemplifying a civilized world where law, order, education and manners...
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