My Darling Clementine to me didn’t stick out as a particularly dark movie. I will agree that there were a lot of dark scenes in it but not enough to distract me toward the idea of this being a particularly dark film as a whole. However the dark noir lighting style that was used to bring the night scenes to life certainly added something to it.
Usually when I think of film noir, I tend to think of movies like Batman. There the lighting reflects the moral and physical issues behind the motives of the characters. And to keep that feeling going threw out the movie, even the day scenes are dark and gloomy to a degree. To me, that’s dark. That is where a lighting style has been implemented to enhance a chosen mood for the story.
That’s noir. The image of a bright sunny day with blue skies, white clouds, green grass, and birds singing would have no place in a seriously dramatic fantasy like Batman. It just would not fit. I think My Darling Clementine is different.
In this film the noir lighting style was effectively integrated into the story but for a much simpler purpose. Here in Clementine I think it’s used merely as a pictorial element. A tool, to enhance a scene here and there with little relevance to the story line. This film did have very elaborate dark scenes but still not enough to put it under the label of noir as a whole.
The difference is that here I belive that one of those “bright sunny day” sequences that I mentioned before would not look so out of place in a film like this. I agree that the western is one of our most traditional genres with John Ford it’s most conservative directors. But the only western that I have ever scene that has ever pulled off the whole noir thing effectively is a movie that goes by the name of “Unforgiven” with Clint Eastwood. I love a dark movie. But then again at the same time I’m not exactly the biggest western fan in the world so my opinion could be thought of as somewhat bias.