mongoII wrote:Hard to choose from Mr. Ford's impressive list of westerns although my choice is "My Darling Clementine" (1946).
His black and white film is as lush as many color films you see. His use of shadow is powerful
I'd forgotten about the deft use of b & w shadows in My Darling Clementine
(1946). One especially memorable scene using visual effects of light, shadow and perspective in that film was when Alan Mowbray
as the alcoholic Shakespearian actor Granville Thorndyke, is forced by the Clantons to climb on the bar to recite the soliloquy from "Hamlet".
Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda
), disgusted by the sight, tries to leave with his new friend, Doc Holliday (Victor Mature
). Doc tells Wyatt he is interesting in listening: "Wait, I want to hear this." Holliday draws closer to the actor, and he and Wyatt watch from inside the saloon as the uncultured clan bullies and torments the tremulous performer. As a pianist accompanies the performance, Thorndyke (Mowbray
) melodically delivers his lines while the viewer sees only what light is given by the hanging oil lamps over the bar, obscuring much of the rest of the interior:
To be or not to be
That is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing
And, by a sleep to say we end the heart-aches
And the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to
'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd.
To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream:
Ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death
What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil?
as Ike Clanton interrupts these poetic lines, mocking the actor, claiming "That's enough, that's enough. You don't know nothin' but them poems. You can't sing. Maybe you can dance." Then Victor Mature
steps forward to prevent the further humiliation of Alan Mowbray
's character identifies with the fear expressed in the speech, and asks Mowbray
politely to please continue:
Must give us pause
There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
...the law's delay
The insolence of office
And the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy take
When he himself
Might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?
Who would fardels bear
To grunt and sweat under a weary life
At which Mowbray breaks off, confused and forgetting the lines, asking Mature to please help him, since the actor is too drunk and frightened to continuethe soliloquy. Holliday finishes up the lines and impresses Earp with his previously unknown sophistication, as he recites:
But that the dread of something after death...
The undiscovered country
From whose bourn no traveller returns,
Puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all...
All of this extraordinary, relatively brief scene illustrates the demons that each human being wrestles with throughout their life, and within the movie's context, shows the complex nature of Mature's lost soul, and gives Fonda's character more reason to be drawn to the doomed Doc Holliday character.
A beautiful moment by the master, John Ford
, giving actors Alan Mowbray
and Victor Mature
what may be their finest moments on film. And cinematographer Joseph MacDonald
was batting a thousand throughout this movie too!
Aside from that, it's a pretty good oater, too! Sorry to wax on so long, but I do love that aspect of the movie very much. Below is the long bar with the lamps that I've described in the scene: