After a long career as a lawman that made him a legend, Wyatt Earp decides to quit and join his brothers in Tombstone, Arizona. There he would see them in a feud with the Clantons, a local clan of thugs and cattle thieves. When the showdown becomes inevitable, the help will come from Doc Holliday, a terminally-ill gambler who happens to be another Wild West legend. Written by
Dragan Antulov <firstname.lastname@example.org>
'Gunfight at O.K. Corral' is one of the many films that have told the tale of the famous showdown between the Earps and the Clantons, but setting this version apart is the ideal casting of Burt Lancaster as the straight-shooting Marshal Wyatt Earp, and Kirk Douglas as the sardonic, dying gambler, Doc Holliday. As in all their pairings, there is a chemistry between them that makes even mundane scripts seem magical!
Lancaster, continuing his rule of alternating between heavy drama and action films, researched the historic Earp extensively, speaking to many who knew him, and his performance is restrained and assured. Douglas, on the other hand, fresh from playing Vincent Van Gogh in 'Lust for Life', knew he needed a splashy hit film, and played Doc Holliday as larger than life, swaggering, diseased, and charismatic. His portrayal is far closer in spirit to the interpretations of Holliday by Val Kilmer, in 'Tombstone', and Dennis Quaid, in 'Wyatt Earp', than Victor Mature, in John Ford's 'My Darling Clementine'.
The film, co-written by Leon Uris, author of 'Exodus', is a historically fanciful but very entertaining exploration of the friendship between Earp and Holliday, as the lawman moves from Dodge City to Tombstone, followed by the gambler, covering a 'blood debt', after Earp saves his life. The climax is, naturally, the infamous gun battle between the Earps (with Holliday) versus the Clanton family and their allies. While purists will quickly note that the shoot-'em-up presented is totally fabricated (watch 'Wyatt Earp' or 'Tombstone' if you want accuracy), it certainly is rousing!
Other aspects of the film to enjoy...Dimitri Tiompkin's magnificent musical score, highlighted by Frankie Laine's unforgettable performance of the title tune, throughout the film...Excellent supporting players, including Jo Van Fleet as Holliday's mistress, John Ireland as evil Johnny Ringo, a young Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton, and Rhonda Fleming as the gambler girlfriend of Wyatt (based on Earp's actual wife, Josie)...Cameos by Kenneth Tobey as Bat Masterson, DeForest Kelley as Morgan Earp, Martin Milner as James Earp, and Frank Faylen as the corrupt sheriff.
The director, John Sturges, revisited the Earp saga some years later in 'Hour of the Gun', with James Garner as Earp, and Jason Robards as Holliday, but while the later film may be more correct, historically, 'Gunfight at the O.K. Corral' is a far more enjoyable film.
I strongly recommend it to any western fan!
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