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'Doc' (1971)

R  |   |  Western  |  1 August 1971 (USA)
6.1
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One night of 1881, Doc Holliday, a famous poker gambler, enters the 'No Name Saloon'. There, he challenges a man to poker, betting his horse against his opponent's wife. Doc wins and from ... See full summary »

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Title: 'Doc' (1971)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Katie Elder
...
Michael Witney ...
Ike Clanton (as Mike Witney)
Denver John Collins ...
The Kid
Dan Greenburg ...
Clum
John Scanlon ...
Bartlett
Richard McKenzie ...
Behan
John Bottoms ...
Philip Shafer ...
Morgan Earp (as Phil Shafer)
Ferdinand Zogbaum ...
...
Hedy Sontag ...
James Greene ...
Antonia Rey ...
Concha
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Storyline

One night of 1881, Doc Holliday, a famous poker gambler, enters the 'No Name Saloon'. There, he challenges a man to poker, betting his horse against his opponent's wife. Doc wins and from now on, Katie Fisher, also known as Katie Elder, will follow him wherever he goes. Their next destination is Tombstone, where the law is represented by Sheriff Wyatt Earp. When they arrive, the election campaign is in full swing. Earp runs for candidate but the Clantons, a family gang of outlaw cowboys, are not among his keenest supporters. Conflict erupts following the failure of some shadowy bargaining and Doc decides to join Wyatt and his brothers. The four of them gather at the O.K. Corral where the seven Clanton brothers are waiting for them. Written by Guy Bellinger

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For the past 90 years these three people have been heroes. Until now! See more »

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Western

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R | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

1 August 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doc Holliday  »

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Did You Know?

Goofs

The scene where Doc is teaching the Kid to shoot, the Kid has a holster with cartridge ammo in the loops. However, the revolver he had was shooting was a black powder, percussion cap fired, Colt 1851 navy type, that does not shoot cartridge ammo. See more »

Quotes

Wyatt Earp: ...And then we clean up Tombstone.
Virgil Earp: You mean clean out Tombstone.
See more »

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User Reviews

Gritty, underrated version of the Holliday/Earp saga
15 December 2014 | by (Ohio/PA border) – See all my reviews

"Doc" (1971) is another cinematic account of the events leading up to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881. As the title suggests, this version focuses a little more on Doc Holliday (Stacy Keach) and his woman Kate (Faye Dunaway). Harris Yulin plays Wyatt Earp.

In the 60s and 70s filmmakers rebelled against the unrealistic and even goofy tone of many prior Westerns and focused on something closer to the gritty truth of the Old West. That's what you get with "Doc." Previous film versions made Wyatt out to be a veritable hero, like 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," where the climatic gunfight went on forever. In reality it only lasted like 30 seconds and this movie shows this. I'm not saying "Doc" is the most accurate portrayal of the events because it's not. Costner's "Wyatt Earp" (1994) comes closest to the truth (so far), but it also takes liberties with the subject. Despite what curmudgeonly critics of "Doc" say – that "it replaces positive lies with negative lies" – it isn't that much different of a take on the subject than Costner's version or 1993's "Tombstone."

The characters of Doc and Kate are roughly the same; the most significant change is that Wyatt is portrayed less positively. And this explains the mass denunciation of "Doc" – people don't like their sacred heroes being maligned. But "Doc" should at least be given credit for being the first film on the topic where these "heroes" are shown closer to who they really were. Forget Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda, Hugh O'Brian, et al, Yulin is truer to the spirit of Wyatt's intention to clean up the town at all costs, settle some scores, and get rich in the process.

Besides, no film that comes out of Hollywood is accurate. They're all skewed by the times and political persuasions of those involved. "Doc" came out at the tail-end of the Vietnam fiasco where authority figures were no longer trusted and the movie reflects this. It's no different than any other inaccurate Hollywood history lesson (e.g. "My Darling Clementine" and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) and is actually closer to the truth in some ways. Furthermore, "Doc" isn't a documentary -- none of the films about Earp/Holliday are – they're MOVIES. And this is a well-made, well-acted version of the tale with an interesting outlook and script where Keach and Dunaway are at their best.

Speaking of Keach, Brian Garfield castigated the film in his book "Western Films," denouncing Keach's portrayal of Holliday as "robust" when nothing could be further from the truth. Keach plays Doc as a seriously half-dying man who's not sure what he wants, but is still relatively likable, at least more so than Earp.

As for Doc's unattractive babe, Big-Nose Kate, people criticize that Dunaway was "too glamorous" in the role, but she worked fine for me (besides, I don't remember any of the other film versions casting a homely woman in the role). This brings up something exceptional about "Doc": The dust and dirt on the people – their clothing and faces – smacks of the way it really was in the Old West more-so than previous renditions.

Some people have said that this version makes the Clantons more positive, but I didn't see it. They're depicted as the dirtbag troublemakers they were and the hatred between them and the Earps is palpable. "Doc" takes an evenhanded approach to the material and shows flaws on both sides, but still ends up somewhat siding with Doc and the Earps.

There are some slow parts but the drama kept my interest and memorable parts abound, like Doc & Kate's journey across the desert, Wyatt's confrontation with the Clantons and the ensuing knock-down-drag-out fight with Ike (excellently portrayed by Michael Witney), Doc's rollicking rescue of Kate from a house of ill repute and the dynamic climatic gunfight.

One negative is that the film was shot in Spain and you can always tell the difference between Spain and the American Southwest, but – I have to admit – the locales are excellent and sometimes stunning, like the Clanton ranch.

Final Word: I don't get why this version of the Earp/Holliday saga is so despised and obscure. It's a gritty, engrossing depiction of the events that offers potential insights to the table, although it probably goes too far to the negative with Wyatt. Nevertheless, it smacks of realism (despite its inaccuracies) and is a worthy addition to the myriad cinematic renditions of the famous events.

The film runs 96 minutes.

GRADE: B+


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