Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance which culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance which culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance which culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Now personally I think their careers show that both of these guys knew exactly what they were doing in guiding their own destinies. This film is a great example of it. It was deservedly a critical hit and a moneymaker.
No film has ever been made that completely told accurately the story of the famous gunfight, least of all this one. But it sure captures the spirit.
I think both of these guys could have played each other's part and the film still would have been a winner. The problem with playing Wyatt Earp is that he's usually such a straight arrow on screen or on television that the main job of the actor is to keep from making him sound like Dudley Doo-Right. Burt Lancaster is capable enough and did it, but Wyatt Earp maybe one of the least complex roles he ever essayed.
Kirk Douglas though is the best Doc Holiday I've ever seen portrayed. Doc Holiday is a brooding, consumptive alcoholic who's also a woman batterer. He treats Jo Van Fleet like garbage and her responses to him is responsible for several of the plot twists. As I've said before Douglas can flip into rage better than any other actor ever. Just watch him with Van Fleet after the youngest Earp brother has been killed.
Today we would call Jo Van Fleet a battered spouse even though she and Douglas are living common-law. Her's is the next best portrayal in the film besides Kirk Douglas.
Rhonda Fleming has little to do except look coquettish and beautiful as the lady gambler who Lancaster falls for. But that was usually enough for her public. It's ironic that she's playing a liberated woman for 19th century and Fleming's politics are quite right wing and Lancaster her very traditional 19th century man was a noted political liberal.
And of course the unbilled co-star is Frankie Laine singing that wonderful title song by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington. Tiomkin was one of the best of movie composers, his music gave that extra oomph into a lot of good movies, making them great.
- Aug 9, 2005