After success cleaning up Dodge City, Wyatt Earp moves to Tombstone, Arizona, and wishes to get rich in obscurity. He meets his brothers there, as well as his old friend Doc Holliday. A band of outlaws that call themselves The Cowboys are causing problems in the region with various acts of random violence, and inevitably come into confrontation with Holliday and the Earps, which leads to a shoot-out at the OK Corral. Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Filming in Arizona was plagued with heat and scorpions. See more »
Contrary to the film's portrayal, Doc Holliday did not leave the O.K. Corral gunfight unscathed. He received a minor glancing blow to the hip, possibly from Frank McLaury, towards the end of the skirmish. See more »
1879 - the Civil War is over, and the resulting economic explosion spurs the great migration west. Farmers, ranchers, prospectors, killers, and thieves seek their fortune. Cattle growers turn cow towns into armed camps, with murder rates higher than than those of modern day New York or Los Angeles. Out of this chaos comes legendary lawman Wyatt Earp, retiring his badge and gun to start a peaceful life for his family. Earp's friend, John, Doc Holliday, a southern gentlemen turned ...
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Earps & Doc vs.Mean Cowboys as early Organized Crime
A late entry in the western genre when already not too many were being made, this is one of those re-watchable mini-epics, with strong entertainment value. It begins with a bang, an intense shoot-out after some supposedly historical footage narrated by actor Mitchum. We are introduced to The Cowboys, this era's version of the Mafia, led by the charismatic Curly Bill (Boothe). These first few minutes manage to unnerve and surprise the audience right away: we are also introduced to the psychotic gunslinger, Ringo (Biehn), but he's revealed as the most dangerous of the bunch only after the shoot-out, a sleight of hand by the filmmakers - they made him look sympathetic in those early moments while everyone is blasting away and he just stands there looking dazed and bothered. Only afterward do we realize he's a lethal lunatic of the damned - it's a powerful beginning.
It's amazing how well this film turned out considering all the rumors of a troubled history. Credit must be given to director Cosmatos and the actors. It's a fairly huge cast, with numerous speaking roles, and everyone seems to have at least one good moment during the story. Then there's Kilmer as Doc, who is good or great in every scene he's in - this is easily Kilmer's best role. Doc is already sick as the movie begins but he manages to stay in the game to the very end, more dangerous than any 2 cowboys, using supernatural willpower & sardonic wit to distract everyone and himself from the fact he's nearly a walking ghost. Russell is just super-solid as Wyatt; he conveys a strength, tapped from unknown sources (whereas Doc draws from within), standing tall when other tough guys quake in the knees. These two make a terrific team; it's not the usual buddy stuff of most pictures. All the supporting cast is fine, including Elliott and Paxton as Wyatt's brothers, though there are some overly obvious moments. Earp's on - off relationship with the actress (Delany) has its ups & downs, there's not much room for subtlety as Earp's wife looks on quite upset as Delany strikes another of her bemused expressions. Also, due to the large number of characters, some of their stories have a heavily truncated feel (Priestley's, for example). The Vista director's cut special edition DVD has some restored footage to improve this problem. The better scenes are the confrontations between the men, the threats swung high & low, and the sheer thrill of watching Russell slap an overweight Billy Bob Thornton silly.
And we have the villains, ah yes, the villains. I've already mentioned a couple of them - another one is Lang as Ike Clanton in a deliciously cheesy, hammy yet mesmerizing performance. By the last 3rd of the movie, I was so wishing he would get his - please, someone - Earp, Holliday, anyone ! - blow this bastard away! Ike is one of the great unsung villains of movie history, a tribute to Lang's abilities. The conflict in this true-life story stemmed from the notion that there were no real villains. It was a matter of which faction had the rights, based on gun power and political ambition. In other words, the Earps were just making a political power play in the view of some and there was little difference between them and The Cowboys. But this film wastes no time in establishing Wyatt and his brothers as the decent side of the coin and when you have characters like Ike, there's no mistaking which side are the bad guys. For a different take on this piece of history, check out the original Star Trek episode "Spectre of the Gun" from '68. Oh yeah, there are also other films like the Lancaster - Douglas opus from 1957. But the Gunfight at the OK Corral in "Tombstone" was just one set piece out of many.
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