Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) Poster

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O.K. by me
treagan-222 November 2002
Many commentators on this movie decry is lack of historical accuracy. Undoubtedly they are right about the inaccuracy, but I see that as beside the point. Hollywood has never been known for that particular faculty--it's in the drama and entertainment business. As John Ford said, "When truth becomes legend, print the legend!"

When I first saw this film in Syracuse, New York, when it first appeared, I was 12 years old. It became a favorite, and can still compete with other activities when I run across it on TV. Its fine score and excellent production values--color, sets, costumes, effects--are met by a a deep bench of lead and character actors that inhabited 50's Hollywood movies and TV.

Lancaster and Douglas both bring their full-throated intensity to their parts; Rhonda Fleming is hauntingly beautiful; Lyle Bettger gets by with the grasping, selfish evil he could project so well. Other characters, like Frank Faylen, Ted DeCorsia, John Ireland, Martin Milner, infest the Old West the way their counterparts Walter Brennan, Alan Mowbray, and co. did in "My Darling Clementine."

Fade out with Frankie Laine: "WY-att Earp, they say, save Doc HOLL-iday . .."
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Unmatched Version!
jpdoherty1 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
One of the finest and most memorable westerns of the fifties is GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL! A splendid Vista Vision Technicolor presentation based around the famous shootout that took place in Tombstone Arizona on the 26th October 1881. Produced by Hal Wallis for Paramount Pictures in 1957 it was masterfully directed by John Sturges and mightily cast with Burt Lancaster as the great frontier lawman Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday. The combination of these two heavyweight stars playing the leads plus the movie's catchy fire cracker title assured the picture's box office success. From an excellent screenplay by Leon Uris it was stylishly complimented by the brilliant and glowing cinematography of Charles B. Lang together with Dimitri Tiomkin's rollicking score including the clever vocal sung by Frankie Laine which operatically guided us through the narrative. Regretfully Sturges had another go at the incident ten years later with the now disregarded and dismissed "Hour Of The Gun" (1967) starring the lightweight James Garner as an unconvincing Wyatt Earp, Jason Robards as a just about adequate Doc Holliday and a poorly cast Robert Ryan in the under written role of Ike Clanton.

The story we all know and love recounts the arrival in Tombstone of Marshal Wyatt Earp. From his developing relationship with the dubious Doc Holliday to his many run ins with rancher Ike Clanton and his law breaking gang of cowboys which would inevitably lead to the event that would become known as the most famous and notorious shootout in American western history.........THE GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL.

The incident itself has been well documented by Hollywood. Most famously by John Ford in 1946 when it featured in his classic "My Darling Clementine" for 20th Century Fox with Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp and Victor Mature as the consumptive Doc Holliday. After the dismal "Hour Of The Gun" in 1967 came "Tombstone" in 1993 with Kurt Russell as Earp and Val Kilmer who just chewed up every shred of scenery as a swashbuckling Holliday. This was followed the next year by Kevin Kostner's over long and bloated "Wyatt Earp" (1994) with Kostner making for a stiff Earp but Dennis Quaid delivering a blistering and definitive performance as a really frail and ill looking Holliday.

It is interesting to ponder that the actual event that occurred on that fateful October afternoon in 1881, when the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday confronted the Clantons and the McLaurys at the OK Corral, was but the briefest of encounters. It was all over inside of thirty seconds! With thirty shots fired at point blank range it resulted in the deaths of Tom and Frank McLaury and young Billy Clanton. Morgan and Virgil Earp along with Doc Holliday were wounded but survived. Wyatt was unhurt. For an incident that - in reality - was so short it is quite amazing how elaborate and embellished Hollywood has depicted the event in every movie. Sturges' '57 film probably contains the longest and most colourful version of the incident which took up to about twenty minutes of screen time. Of course we must accept this to be artistic licence and enjoy it as it is - regardless of the liberties taken by the film makers concerning the facts of what actually occurred that day. Also It is curious that situated next to the OK Corral was the photographic studio of Camillus Fly (Fly was famous for his many photos of early Arizona including those taken at the negotiations between the Apache warrior Geronimo and General Crook). Unfortunately Fly - reputed to be under threat from the Earps - took no photographs of the unfolding events that day in the adjacent OK Corral. A missed opportunity most certainly, a shamefully lost scoop that history can never forgive. Fly's studio is nowhere to be seen in either Sturges' or Ford's pictures. And yet it was quite prominent in 1993's "Tombstone".

However, actual occurrences and events not withstanding Sturges' movie is still an immensely entertaining picture. Performances are top notch! Lancaster makes a fine upstanding square jawed Wyatt Earp against Douglas' tempestuous and aggressive Doc Holliday. Good too are those in smaller roles like Jo Van Fleet as Doc's abused girl friend "Big Nose" Kate, Lyle Bettger as Ike Clanton, John Ireland as Ringo and Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton.

All in all another great one from the fifties, the decade of the classic Hollywood western.
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A Great Cast Is Reason Enough To See This Film
gitrich13 May 2000
No, this is not the way it really happened at the Ok Corral in Tucson but since when has Hollywood ever been totally accurate and true to history? The chemistry between Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster works extremely well. This movie works because of great stars and a solid cast of great actors. The score is outstanding featuring Frankie Lane singing the title song. The photography is very realistic compared to most westerns of that era. The gunfight at the Ok Corral is worth waiting for. If you like westerns, you will especially like The Gunfight At Ok Corral.
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A pure Western with a great score...
Nazi_Fighter_David10 January 2000
"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" derives from one of the most celebrated shoot-outs in Western history in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881... The semi-legendary confrontation had made of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, men of exceptional quality...

"Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" has some of the Sturges virtues, but not all… It doesn't however disappoint when it comes to the crunch—the gunfight itself… This is magnificently staged… It probably equals anything that law and order movies have produced in set-piece battles…

The film also focuses on the friendship between Earp and Holliday and the good will of two different kinds of men... Earp, is an honest lawman with authority, and Holliday, a gambler with a 'real big hate for the law.'

The two characters are powerful, strong, and at the same time compassionate, with respect and dignity... Holliday's character as the black sheep, is much more interesting than the straight marshal who is at the same time the lawman, the judge and the jury.' The main assets of the motion picture are Lancaster and Douglas, two great stars conscious of their potentialities with excellent ability...

Douglas is impressing and brilliant as the troubled sick Doc Holliday and Lancaster is confident, solid and likable as Wyatt Earp... The mirror scene, in the beginning of the film, is great: Douglas, cool and steady, is ready for action observing carefully in the mirror the sharp feature and narrow steely eyes of Lee Van Cleef who is so anxious to kill him with a small gun hidden in his left boot...

Fine performances by a first-class cast heighten the interest: Rhonda Fleming is ravishing as the redhead lady gambler; Jo Van Fleet is very effective as the jealous lady, torn between Ringo and Holliday; Earl Holliman is good as the naive deputy who 'picks up the hardware as soon as the cowboys hit town;' John Ireland is unforgettable with his slight stoop and menacing walk; Lyle Bettger is strong as Ike Clanton, the organizer of the toughest bunch of gunslingers; Dennis Hopper is difficult and rebellious as the young Clanton who can't take the advice of the marshal; and Jack Elam is threatening as the tall and lean man with an evil leer...

Dimitri Tiomkin's great score back up the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral," a pure Western, magnificently photographed by Charles Lang in VistaVision and Technicolor...

John Ireland has been twice on the losing side of the Corral incident... The first time as Billy Clanton in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine."
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Lancaster and Douglas --- Earp and Holiday
bkoganbing9 August 2005
In one of her books Hedda Hopper devoted a chapter to both of the stars of Gunfight at the OK Corral, calling them the Terrible Twins. As a columnist Hopper was a firm defender of the old studio system and both Burt and Kirk were seen by her as betraying old Hollywood.

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.
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It's OK at the Corral
Bucs196016 September 2007
Who really cares if this film is historically accurate? This is the re-telling, no matter how grandiose and overblown, of a gunfight that has gained in reputation over the years and has become legendary, deserved or un-deserved. The result is one jim-dandy of a western with a little bit of love, a little bit of drama and a whole lot of violence as the Earps and the Clantons go head to head.

And who better to be the bigger than life heroes than those two bigger than life stars, Lancaster and Douglas. Talk about perfect casting...... Lancaster as Wyatt Earp moves through this film like a ballet dancer and Douglas as Doc Holliday squares that famous chin and gets tough while hacking up his lungs to tuberculosis. Who can forget Lancaster running and diving across the corral with a shotgun. His former career as an acrobat and trapeze artist is on display here.

The supporting cast is about as good as it gets. From Lyle Bettger to John Ireland as the bad Jo VanFleet as Doc's Dennis Hopper as the confused youngest Clanton. Rhonda Fleming is beautiful and is only part of the sub-plot used to flesh out the running time but I'm not complaining.

You don't have to be a fan of westerns to get involved in this epic tale......and I haven't even mentioned Frankie Lane's title song. It's a heroic tale of family honor and violent consequences when honor is challenged. Accuracy be's a great film.
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Burt and Kirk Take on the Clantons!
cariart16 August 2003
'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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An OK telling of the famous shootout with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas
Wuchakk24 September 2016
Released in 1957 and directed by John Sturges, "Gunfight at the OK Corral" stars Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas as Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday in a loose adaption of the events that led up to the famous shootout in Tombstone, Arizona, on October 26, 1881. Rhonda Fleming and Jo Van Fleet are on hand as the protagonists' respective babes. Earl Holliman is noteworthy as Earp's deputy in Dodge City while John Ireland plays Johnny Ringo. DeForest Kelley (Bones from Star Trek) has a small role as one of the Earp brothers while a young Dennis Hopper plays Billy Clanton.

This is a dialogue-driven production that reflects the era in which it was made, hokey opening cowboy song and all. If you can acclimate to its 'world' there are a lot of rewarding elements, particularly the growing friendship of Wyatt and Doc, which starts out shaky, to say the least. It's their relationship that anchors the story, which has trouble working up suspense since it takes place in three distant locations—Fort Griffen, Texas; Dodge City, Kansas; and Tombstone, Arizona. By the time the Earp brothers & Holliday relocate to Tombstone there are a mere 50 minutes left in the movie, which means there's only a small measure of time to establish the villainy of Ike Clanton (Lyle Bettger) & his 'Cowboys' outlaw gang and subsequently build-up to the climatic shootout.

Speaking of which, the real Tombstone gunfight only lasted about 30 seconds; here's it's 16-times longer at 8 minutes. Most other versions are more accurate on this count, e.g. "Hour of the Gun" (1967) (which, by the way, is Sturges' sequel to this one, albeit with a different cast and a more accurate gunfight at the OK Corral), "Doc" (1971), "Tombstone" (1993) and "Wyatt Earp" (1994). Speaking of "Tombstone," one of the reasons it was a hit is because it had well over an hour to build up to the main shootout and did so expertly; "Wyatt Earp" less so, but then "Wyatt" excels in areas that "Tombstone" doesn't, like mundane realism and exposition on the title character. Besides the anchor of Wyatt and Doc's relationship "Gunfight at the OK Corral" does try to work-up suspense through a fictitious growing rivalry between Doc and Johnny Ringo.

While this is a talky Western it's interspersed with nigh shocking violence, like a knife-to-the-chest in the opening act. Nevertheless, it IS dialogue-oriented so to get the most out of it you'll have to (1.) listen closely or (2.) use the subtitles, like I did, which helps you keep track of names and various important (mumbled) statements. I shouldn't close without mentioning Rhonda Fleming and her whoa-man beauty in a fictitious peripheral role.

The film runs 122 minutes and was shot in Old Tucson and other Arizona locations, as well as Paramount Ranch and Paramount Studios, California.

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In this film it is Doc that counts.
tmwest19 October 2003
The DVD copy I saw is excellent. The Frankie Laine ballad blends very well with the scenes. Burt Lancaster gives a quite cold performance as Wyatt Earp, and the Earp family is not shown as well as it should. Same thing goes for the Clantons, with the exception of Dennis Hopper, and John Ireland as Johnny Ringo. Kirk Douglas and Jo Van Fleet as Doc and his woman are really the ones that make this film pick up speed. They involve you in their drama. The gunfight is very well staged, you don't see good action scenes like that in westerns nowadays.
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This version of the historical shootout features Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas
jacobs-greenwood8 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This account of the events leading up to and including the historical shootout between Wyatt Earp and the former dentist come gambling gunfighter afflicted with tuberculosis (that becomes the Marshal's friend) Doc Holliday versus Ike Clanton and associates in Tombstone, Arizona is notable for the on screen relationship portrayed between its two leads, Burt Lancaster as Marshal Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Dr. John 'Doc' Holliday.

Directed by John Sturges, with a screenplay by novelist Leon Uris from an article by George Scullin, this slightly above average Western received an Academy Award nomination for Warren Low's Editing; its Sound Recording by George Dutton was also Oscar nominated.

According to this film, Wyatt Earp was a lawman above reproach, with an enviable moral code of conduct. He was so well thought of that the association which develops into a friendship between him and the gambler, who's also a notorious gunfighter, known as Doc Holliday threatens to tarnish the Marshal's reputation. Rhonda Fleming plays Laura Denbow, a gambling woman who temporarily interests Marshal Earp enough for him to consider settling down and retiring from the law. Jo Van Fleet plays Kate Fisher, a floozy and longtime girlfriend of Doc's; her loyalty wanes as he is weakened by his disease and promise to the Marshal not to kill anyone since they'd become friends. The situation is exacerbated when Kate takes up with Johnny Ringo (John Ireland), one of Ike Clanton's hired guns that exploits the situation.

Clanton (Lyle Bettger) is a powerful cattle rustler who owns the less lily white county sheriff Cotton Wilson (Frank Faylen); Earl Holliman plays Earp's somewhat green Deputy Sheriff Charlie Bassett whereas a very youthful looking Dennis Hopper plays Clanton's youngest boy Billy. Whit Bissell plays the head of Tombstone's citizen council, which backs Wyatt and his brothers Virgil (John Hudson) and Morgan (DeForest Kelley); Martin Milner plays the youngest, greenest Earp brother Jimmy, whose murder by the Clantons leads to the personal showdown in this fictionalized account of the events. Don't blink or you'll miss Kenneth Tobey as Bat Masterson near the beginning of the film (sitting on a porch with Wyatt); would be Western movie veteran Lee Van Cleef appears a little less briefly as the disgruntled Ed Bailey, whose skirmish with a knife throwing Holliday is short-lived. Jack Elam might be hard to spot as well; he plays one of the McLowery brothers that's allied with the Clantons in the climactic (lengthened to a cinematic six minute) gun battle with the Earps and Holliday.

As a producer, Sturges would follow-up this story ten years later by directing Hour of the Gun (1967) with James Garner and Jason Robards in the Wyatt and Doc roles, respectively.
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Exciting classic Western plenty of tension , thrills and gunplay
ma-cortes25 February 2008
This trigger-taut Western drama deals with a lawman and a badman , the strangest friendship this side of heaven and hell . They fought shoulder to shoulder in the wildest stand-up gunfight in the history of the West . They are the strangest alliance between the West's most famous sheriff Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) , trying to overcome outlaws and its deadliest gambling killer , Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas). It's incomparably performed by the greatest team who ever went into action , Lancaster portrays the large-than-life lawman , living by the old rules , driven by revenge , dueling to the death and Douglas is most impressive as a gunslinger , the hellfire gambler , his only friends were his guns and his only refuge was a woman's heart . Two towering Box office actors in a huge exciting production . The film correctly builds up its suspense until a tense battle in streets of Tombstone.

The flick is formed by three parts and divided by three songs played by Frankie Lane and musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin . The first is located in Fort Griffin where Earp finds Holliday and helps him against Ed Bailey (Lee Van Cleef). The second part concerns on Holliday and his mate Kate (Jo Van Fleet) and appears a gambling-woman , the red-haired named Laura (Rhonda Fleming) . Here Doc helps Earp against another historic characters , such as Shangai Pierce (Ted De Corsia) and Johnny Ringo (John Ireland), furthermore is the sheriff Ben Masterson (Kenneth Tobey) . The third part focuses Tombstone , 1881 , with stimulating scenes about OK Corral gunfight between Morgan (DeForest Kelley) , Virgil (John Howard), Wyatt Earp , Doc against the nefarious Ike (Lyle Bettgler), Billy Clanton (Dennis Hooper) , Johnny Ringo, and Tom McLowery(Jack Elam). The main character is a historical figure , in this case the sheriff Wyatt Earp who participated the most famous duel occurred in the western town of Tombstone in 1881 that has been brought to the big screen many times as in the classic "My Darling Clementine" in 1946 directed by John Ford with Henry Fonda and Victor Mature , in this "Gunfight at O.K. Corral" (1957) by specialist John Sturges who would resume the same story in "The Hour of the Gun" (1967) ; the demystifying "Doc" (Frank Perry, 1971) with Harris Yulin and Stacy Keach or the more modern "Tombstone: The Legend of Wyatt Earp" (George P. Cosmatos, 1993) with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer and ¨Wyatt Earp¨ (Lawrence Kasdan, 1994) with Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid . The motion picture was stunningly directed by John Sturges

This is a story enormous in scope ,unusual in concept with a mile-a-minute action on a climatic and thrill-a-minute gunfight. Packs a magnificent cinematography-Vistavision and Technicolor with overblown chromatic by Charles B Lang and outdoors shot in Fort Griffith , Tucson, Phoenix and Tombstone . This thrilling film contains a spectacular and lyric musical score by the great Dimitri Tiomkin . John Sturges's masterpiece of the West in one of the top films of the 1957 year . Followed by a sequel ¨Hour of the gun (1967)¨ also directed by specialist Sturges with James Garner and Jason Robards .
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"A Law Bigger'n Any In The Book - Family Pride"
stryker-54 December 2000
One of Hollywood's major offerings of 1957, "Gunfight" contains all the ingredients one would expect of a blockbuster - big stars, big budget and a storyline calculated to capture the public's imagination. For me, however, the film doesn't quite work. In the final analysis, the whole thing is a little too sluggish, a little too formulaic.

To be sure, it contains fine things. Burt Lancaster is stolid and unyielding as hard lawman Wyatt Earp. Sturges films him with the camera at ground level as he rides onto the screen, making him seem superhuman in his larger-than-life moral certainty. He faces down the armed drunk without the faintest twitch of fear, the embodiment of a strong, righteous enforcer of the law. The friendship between the paragon and the wastrel is cleverly done, with Earp and Holliday (Kirk Douglas) each seeing something to admire in the other, very different, man. Character is also to the fore as a plot-driver when Kate Fisher (Jo Van Fleet) is forced by the dynamics of her relationship with the Doc into ever more wretched behaviour. By comparison, the Earp-Laura love story is cold and staid. Both Lancaster and Rhonda Fleming are terrific to look at, but hard to warm to. Though the film takes an eternity to get to the shoot-out which is its raison d'etre, when the climax finally comes the suspense is built superbly. In a nice symmetry, we see the women of both sides dreading the fatal clash as Ma Clanton and Virgil's wife separately mourn the departure of their respective menfolk. Douglas made a career out of playing generous-spirited bad guys, and one of the best things in this film is Doc Holliday's heroic effort of will, rising from his sickbed to stand beside his friend in the face of mortal danger. Shot in a rich Technicolor palette, the film's images are strong and clean, and at times even beautiful, for example the barn fire, or the approach of the Earp faction, with Cotton standing facing them, his body framed by the corral building.

Other elements are not so well done. Wyatt is too unrelenting a hard man to win the audience's unqualified sympathy, as in the scene when he tells the all-too-human Cotton, "If you can't handle it any more, turn in your badge." The Frankie Laine ballad, almost de rigeur in 1950's westerns, is simply not up to scratch ("Boot Hill, Boot Hill, so cold, so still ...") There is an ugly shadow eclipsing Ike Clanton's face throughout his most important scene. Billy (a very young Dennis Hopper) is 'converted' by Wyatt far too easily.

There exists a wide spectrum of opinion on the question of how loyal a work of fiction should remain to the historical event which inspired it. One camp would argue that the artist has total freedom to rework a popular legend such as The Gunfight, while the other extremity would insist on documentary accuracy. This film is interesting, in that it takes a well-known incident for which contemporaneous records abound, and virtually disregards the historical truth.

In the film, the decent, clean-shaven Earp boys are merely 'doing what a man has to do'. We know that the Clanton-McLaury gang is mean and duplicitous, and that there will have to be a showdown between Right and Wrong. The shoot-out, when it comes, happens over several minutes of time on a clear, bright day. There is an athletic battle of movement, with the Earps in particular manoeuvring for position, and finally trapping the Clantons in and around a burning wagon. The strategic intentions of the good guys are clear and easy to follow.

The reality of October 26, 1881 was quite different. Two gangs of walrus-mustachioed men confronted each other, standing face-to-face in a built-up street. The shooting lasted a maximum of 30 seconds, and when the smoke cleared, three of the so-called "cowboy faction" lay dead or mortally wounded, whereas the Earp faction sustained only minor wounds. Wyatt was totally unharmed. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne, two of the cowboy leaders, had in fact run away when the guns opened fire.

This was no tussle between Good and Evil. Wyatt Earp was not a US Marshall, as the film tries to insist. He was Virgil's assistant with purely local authority, little more than his brother's pinch-hitter. Doc Holliday held no office of any kind. This was a clash between two Americas - the Earps representing the urban, northern, republican culture which had won the Civil War, while the Clantons stood for the freebooting, democratic, open-range mentality whose sympathies lay with the vanquished South.

A motion picture has a span of something like 90 minutes in which to set out its stall. Perhaps such a narrow intellectual space imposes so many constrictions that the true flavour of a historic event can never be properly represented. Or maybe the limitations of the medium set the film-maker free to create a better, more poetic "reality". I don't know the answer. There probably isn't one.
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Some great names but a little stilted and fragmented
secondtake10 February 2013
Gunfight at the OK Corral (1957)

This has the makings of a classic, and of course the story is one of the great ture legends of the Wild West. Burt Lancaster as the tough and unbending lawman and Kirk Douglas as the unpredictable semi-lawless cad are both great, and the best scenes are probably those with the two of them. The rest of the cast is reasonable, some of them really good, though maybe the all important bad guys lacked some kind of wild evil they might have needed (a Lee Marvin intensity). One of the bad guys, Johnny Ringo, is played by a nice guy actor, John Ireland, even though Ringo was never part of thie OK Corral story. It does have a young Dennis Hopper, which is fun to see (and Hopper hailed from Dodge City itself in real life).

Still, it looked like it would really be equivalent to "Rio Bravo" and others from the same time period.

Not so, not for me. And it's simply because of that whole range of different things that add up in a great movie and slip and slither in a decent one. For example, there are a number of interludes with horses walking through the big landscape and the corny theme song is sung through a new verse. I can't believe this was effective even at the time (music from 1957 in general wasn't so corny and fakey, including country music), but now it deadened the flow. Likewise the series of events didn't always seem to lead one to the next in a compelling way, as the interludes allowed a shift in location and sometimes a whole new situation to develop.

One problem (if this is a problem) is that it's based on facts. I think this made the movie makers add information and keep switching towns simply because it was the way it was and they thought they must. Maybe they did. Oddly, they got lots of the essentials wrong that might actually make a better movie if someone wants to take another crack at it (quick details at wikipedia). The final famous shootout is fun and well done but way too obvious with the good guys always getting their target and the bad guys missing, or hitting a leg.

So why the reputation? It isn't bad, and it is always compelling to see Douglas in particular in almost any film. The filming (by Charles Lang, one of the greats) is first rate, and so just watching, whatever the scene, is enjoyable.
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Underrated western.
Boba_Fett113815 January 2007
This is a great and underrated genre movie that is a take on the story of the Earp brothers and 'Doc' Holliday and their fight with the Clanton gang, in Tombstone.

The movie features some classic western characters, that almost everybody knows already. It makes the movie more easy and probably also more fun and light to follow than most other genre movies. The movie features very many characters, with could had made the movie confusing to follow but you just know who all the characters are and where they stand.

The story is very fascinating and entertaining. It's a bold story about gunslingers and lawmen and getting even. The story also leaves room for subplots and layers about family and friendship, mostly of course the 'unusuasul' friendship between Wyatt Earp and 'Doc' Holliday. Unusual because their characters are some different from each other. The movie even leaves room for the love-story between Wyatt and his lady friend, though it's not as much present in the story as you would perhaps expect and it most certainly does not distract from the movie as a whole.

The storytelling is great and begins from the moment Wyatt tries to settle down after his career as a lawman and the movie ends with the well known confrontation and shootout at the O.K. Corral. Yes, the movie takes lot of liberty with the true story but its all for the good of the movie and its entertainment value. Director John Sturges surely knows how to tell a good story!

It's a very pure western with all of the classic ingredients present; of course gunfights, card games and shootouts. The ending shootout at the O.K. Corral is surprisingly well brought to the screen. It's action packed and really spectacular filmed. It makes the ending very exciting and spectacular as well to watch.

All of the characters are great and it's true that the movie is most definitely uplifted by the performances of the cast. Burt Lancaster is fairly good in the role of Wyatt Earp but the one that steals the show is Kirk Douglas as John 'Doc' Holliday. Also quite fun to see how much the 'young' Kirk Douglas looked like his son Michael. They even sound the same. The movie features an also still very young and hard to recognize Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton.

The movie its musical score is highly unusual. I mean the theme is actually sung by Frankie Laine! But it fits the movie surprisingly well and knows to capture the mood and atmosphere of the movie. The same goes for the 'normal' musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin.

A very pleasant and greatly told movie from John Sturges, with also memorable performances from the cast.

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A showcase for Lancaster and Douglas
jeffcoat21 January 2004
Basically, a vehicle to showcase the talents of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, but an appropriate one. Though there are many characters, this is hardly an ensemble cast, with Burt and Kirk prominent in virtually every foot of film. Rhonda Fleming provides a bit of window dressing in a wonderful but brief role as Wyatt's love interest.

More of a classic western than `My Darling Clementine', an earlier movie about Wyatt and Doc at the OK Corral, but this version is more episodic in nature, though equally fictional. Don't look for nuance in the characters. The bad guys are bad, the good guys good but not flawless.

Gunfights, gambling, galloping horses, bar room ladies... If you love westerns, you'll love this one.
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That Famous Gunfight.
AaronCapenBanner2 October 2013
Burt Lancaster plays real-life western lawman Wyatt Earp, who travels to Tombstone, Arizona to join his brothers in their business, only to be called upon to serve after learning about a rival family, the Clantons, who are portrayed as thugs and cattle thieves. He enlists the help of old friend(but outlaw gunfighter) Doc Holliday(Kirk Douglas) to do battle with the Clantons after personal tragedy leads to that famous gunfight.

Surprisingly dull western has a good cast but a slow pace, with an awkward and mawkish love story that drags it down even more. Climatic showdown is reasonably exciting, but not enough to save otherwise disappointing film.
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Excellent Archetypal Western
nicholas.rhodes5 December 2004
This film has everything going for it : magnificent music score introduced at regular intervals throughout, superb sets and lighting, deep blue skies, parched yellow fields, cactus, mountainous backdrop, gunfights, romance, tension, saloon bars ..... what more could a western lover want ?

In spite of it two hours' duration, this is a magnificent archetypal western, if I wanted to criticise negatively something in it, I would say that the female presence, and consequently romance could have been a little stronger with more romantic and passionate scenes to offset the shooting and violence !

I notice that some jerks on IMDb are criticizing "historical inaccuracies" the film ! This mad me laugh to death. Who really cares a TINKER'S CUSS whether the film is historically accurate ? This is not a documentary about the Wild West, it is CINEMA !! And good cinema it certainly is ! The final shoot-out at OK Corral is magnificent ( better that that of OPEN RANGE ! ). The combination of Frankie Lane's theme tune plus those deep blue skies and yellow parched fields will always remain foremost in my memory as regards this film.

Kirk Douglas plays an interesting character, not always easy to fathom out as compared with the straight and righteous character of Burt Lancaster, who looks magnificent in this film. Unfortunately we do not know whether he meets up with his loved one at the end but we suppose he will ( Cf Doc Holliday "She'll Be Waiting For You ....... ).

So far only available from the USA on DVD with English subtitles, it cannnot be found in Europe unfortunately, though I have seen it a couple of times on both English and French TV. No doubt Paramount will probably bring it out on DVD over here too in the coming months .....
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Nice Colors, Two Big Stars Best Features Of This Version
ccthemovieman-128 September 2006
The stories and films about Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the Clantons are always interesting, at least to me. They've been put on film a half dozen times over the years. I think the best feature of this particular version was the beautiful, muted colors. Now that it's out on DVD, I would like to see this on a nice widescreen transfer. My only looks (two of them) were on VHS. Story-wise, most of the others Earp films were more interesting than this one.

What makes the story worth seeing are two big stars playing main roles: Burt Lancaster as "Wyatt Earp" and Kirk Douglas as "Doc Holliday." What's different about the story is that, unlike all other versions, Earp and Holliday are not good friends throughout this movie, although they wind up as allies in the final shootout. Also, the arguments between Holliday and his girlfriend "Kate" (Jo Van Fleet) grow tiresome after awhile.

Overall, this doesn't have enough action to satisfy today's viewers, except for the shootout scene at the end, which goes on for at least 10 minutes.
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Fun. Though Wholly Inaccurate
Hitchcoc5 December 2016
This is strictly Hollywood. If one reads even the most fundamental biographies of the Earps and their associates, we come to realize that their feud with the Clantons is overblown by writers who wished to satisfy an audience. The Earps and Doc Holliday were far from perfect enforcer's of the law. Wyatt was as much a politician as he was a lawman, having on many occasions to try to appease a population that didn't especially like him. Doc Holliday was a user and abuser and a very sick man. The Earp brother had their own problems. One of the foibles, especially of Wyatt, was being bad judges of women. This film makes them saviors and, in the Western tradition, black and white. The shootout is a lot of fun as is the suspense leading up to it. It's certainly not a biopic, but it's a really fun Western.
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Who's Gonna Pay for the Horses?
jcohen121 February 2007
Been several years since I've seen this 1957 flick. Since that time I've seen Tombstone & Hour of the Gun. I've enjoyed both these subsequent interpretations of the Clanton-Earp feud . A toss-up between screen legend Kirk Douglas and Val Kilmer. Mustache event clearly goes to Kurt Russell and James Garner over Burt Lancaster. Lancaster plays it straight to the hilt and that's fine. The more interesting role is Doc Holiday who would have been a godsend to dentistry if he could have taken care of his cough. His lady friend ("you slut") looks like she has seen better days and the nod goes to Kilmer's gal -Kate played by Joanna Pacula. Kirk is great as always and proves a little cold water on the face is all you need (plus a few shots of courage) before a shootout. Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) has obviously lost his Cherry and crossed the Red River to Tombstone. Martin Milner (1 Adam 12), DeForest Kelly (Bones) and Dennis Hopper don't do to much but make you realize this movie almost 50 years old.

I recommend it because of the play between the two lead characters.
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Personal is not the same thing as important
Igenlode Wordsmith26 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This must have been one of the first Westerns I ever saw, and I was completely bowled over -- not so much by the story as by the tight-knit web of loyalties and obligations that run through the film. Watching it again after a lapse of years and four or five other pictures on the same subject, that knife-edge tension is inevitably spoilt to some degree by foreknowledge: yes, hero and antihero will successfully team up, and Doc Holliday will rise from his deathbed. And I'm more aware of the Western clichés, for example the way that Holliday is repeatedly used to preserve Wyatt's lily-white hero status by stepping in to do the actual shooting; alas, I'll never recapture quite that state of adolescent innocence again.

But if the overall outcome is no longer up for grabs, individual scenes can still despite all logic mesmerise. My adult self knows perfectly well that Wyatt must survive until the end of the film... but watches with bated breath as he faces down an armed drunk by sheer force of will. As for Holliday's tormented relationship with Kate, crippled by mutual self-loathing, almost every scene is a nail-biter as you ache for these two lost souls to stop hurting one another and find some comfort in their shared dependence.

The Holliday role is inevitably the scene-stealer in any version of this story; as the antihero he gets all the best lines. And while the Earps, as lawmen, have to do the right thing (or, at least, are supposed to), for Holliday it remains a matter of active and thus significant choice at every turning. Some of the most agonizing tension in the film comes in the scene where, having given his word 'as a gentleman' not to betray Wyatt's trust by engaging in extra-curricular killing, he is challenged to fight in a matter of personal pride: two codes and two loyalties conflict, with Doc's 'better self' caught hopelessly between them. Does he have the strength of character -- the surviving shred of honour -- to hold out in the face of mounting humiliation? Can he bear to hold to his word at the cost of his reputation?

Ironically, when Wyatt faces the same choice -- between the 'personal' and the 'important' -- he comprehensively fails it: he has to, of course, or there wouldn't be any point to the film's title, but it gives an oddly downbeat note to the final confrontation. By going out hand to hand against the Clantons in revenge for his brother's death, by abandoning the law in a quest for personal vengeance, he is effectively betraying everything he formerly stood for, and he knows it. Again and again we've seen him refuse to escalate under provocation: this time he allows himself to be pulled in. And when the final shot has sounded, his lawman's badge goes spinning down into the silence -- his self-righteous, self-confident days are done.

Most versions of the OK Corral story start with Wyatt & Co riding into Tombstone and planning to hang up their guns for a prosperous civilian life: given its take on the theme, this one chooses to establish its version of the character and of the law on active duty, via a succession of little frontier towns introduced by a sombre common thread -- Boot Hill. While the rapid turnover of locales never becomes confusing, it provides a sense of the way Holliday keeps wearing out his welcome; it also serves to introduce the other side of the lawman's coin, the aging, weakened sheriff Cotton Wilson.

Our first sight of him is through Wyatt's eyes in the character of a respected veteran, and the gap between that perception and the bar-room murmurs of a 'corrupt sheriff' is so wide as to make it hard to draw the connection; but it gradually becomes clear, to Wyatt and to the viewer alike, that Wilson truly has reached "the end of the line" and given up. All he wants any longer is the easy life: he has no real stomach for crime, but he no longer has the moral fibre to stand up in the face of men like Ike Clanton. He is the spectre of Wyatt's future: "a twenty-dollar a week pension... if you live to collect it". It is easy to preach while you still have your strength, and Wyatt has little time or pity for him. But the warning is there from the start.

The script is tautly set up, establishing important characters and information (brother Morgan and the Clanton ranch near Tombstone; Holliday's knife-throwing tendencies) ahead of time, and without obvious effort. The main exception is in the character of Laura Denbow, who makes an assertive entrance only to dwindle into a rather soppy romantic interest and then vanish out of the plot altogether. Her final ultimatum to Wyatt is used to point up the theme that the law will ultimately consume his life to no return, but the character is ill-served overall, creating the sneaking feeling that she is only present to provide some obligatory love-scenes of a wholesome nature. (And given his forthright distaste for Holliday's lifestyle, Wyatt seems remarkably ready to ally with a woman who makes a living at late-night poker!)

In the end, however, this is not the story of one man's journey from badge-holder to disillusioned civilian; despite its title, it's not even the story of the gunfight at the OK Corral. The film's story is that of a strange alliance of obligation and opposites, of self-destruction and dour conviction, and improbable liking and odd loyalty: of unlikely and all-but-unspoken friendship. Of the unforeseen path that brought Doc Holliday -- gambler, killer and long-since-fallen gentleman -- onto the same side as Wyatt Earp.

Its impact lies in that it makes this fragile outcome matter.
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Nothing special
grantss16 May 2015
Solid production with two great action-drama stars in the lead roles yet this movie just doesn't feel at all special.

Maybe it is the fact that since this movie several other movies have been made about the famous gunfight at the OK Corral, and they were more accurate and more engaging. Tombstone (1993) covered not just the gunfight but the aftermath, which stretched for years. Wyatt Earp (1994) was an extensive study on Wyatt Earp, including the gunfight, though was overly long and a bit laboured.

So, now, it feels dated and surpassed. However, for its time this movie is okay. Good performances by Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas in the lead roles, plus the cinematography and action scenes are good. Plot is a touch dull, as the gunfight is really the only exciting part. While the backstory is very important, it feels overdone and padded.

Ultimately, a so-so movie. Rather watch Tombstone for the full, accurate story.
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An overrated Western that might just put you to sleep.
fedor88 January 2007
More like "The Very Long Series Of Events Building Up To The Very Short Gunfight At The O.K. Corral". It's in the title: this western is O.K. but nothing more. A mostly good cast, but far too long for its own westernly good. "Tombstone" is superior to it in almost every way.

Lancaster and Douglas are good, but they can't save us from the tedium. Dennis Hopper looked like a ridiculous little runt when he was young. How this guy got into movies, I'll never understand. (A talentless little dwarf.) De Kelley, "Bones" from "Star Trek", later played in an "ST" episode that had to do with the famous gunfight. That "ST" episode is far more fun than this movie.
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The sad ballad of the Western ballad
MBunge6 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a really good movie and all, but watching it primarily makes me wish someone would put together a compilation of all the gosh awful ballads that overpowered the soundtracks of so many Westerns in the 1950s and 60s. The one here has to be in the top 10. It's a shame to think what you'll remember most from this film is that song, but it's just so bizarre to hear anything like it in a theoretically grown up story and it serves as one of those surprising reminders of how much American culture has changed.

Made during that era when Hollywood considered history an inconvenience to be dispensed with, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is the story of Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) and Doc Holiday (Kirk Douglas). Those two Western legends portrayed by those two legendary actors is all any motion picture would need to be worth seeing, which is fortunate because that's just about all this movie has to offer. Its assembly line plot and sparse dialog pale in comparison to other versions of this tale. Put two 1950s B movie actors in the lead roles and this would have been a completely forgettable exercise. With two movie stars of this caliber, it becomes eminently watchable.

In case you just fell off the turnip truck, Wyatt Earp was perhaps the greatest and certainly the most famous lawman of the Wild West. His mythic status as a paragon of virtue, however, has always been tweaked by his friendship with Doc Holiday, a tubercular gambler and vicious killer. They, along with Wyatt's two brothers, faced down the forces of Ike Clanton in a blaze of glory that became one of the most enduring stories of the Wild West. Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes that nugget, throws in a love interest for Wyatt and has the two men wander from town to town as they're serenaded by this stupid song.

The only thing of interest besides Douglas, Lancaster and an appearance by "Bones" from Star Trek is to see how this film tries to stay true to the violent world these violent men lived in while remaining within the boundaries of what would now be considered G rated storytelling. The cynical self-loathing of Doc Holiday has to be covered up with a lot of veils but you can still see the outline if you look hard enough, especially in Doc's abusive relationship with a woman he hates precisely because she loves him so much. And the way the film strongly condemns the Earp's for taking the law into their own hands in their feud with the Clanton's is just not something you see in similar stories today.

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral is an unexceptional Western beyond giving you a chance to see Lancaster and Douglas strut their stuff. It's not a must see, bit it's worth checking out.
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A thoroughly entertaining and superbly played Western
hnt_dnl27 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
From the great year in movies 1957 comes this trailblazing Western GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL. Gunfight is an early example of a purely entertaining film. And it may just have been the template for the 'action buddy' movie. The 2 'buddies' in question are Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (played by longtime acting collaborators Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas). Actually, in the film, Wyatt and Doc get off to an uneasy start and its hard to call them the best of friends at first. Ironically, this may have mirrored Lancaster and Douglas' off-screen relationship as well. History says that they were competitive actors always trying to one-up each other, perhaps to get the best out of each other's performance. I don't know if they were the best of friends (would like to think so), but in the end it doesn't matter because their collaborations are among the most successful in all of film history.

As stated, Wyatt and Doc aren't really buddies at first. Everyone knows the story: Wyatt Earp is an upstanding, earnest lawman and Doc is a shady, alcoholic gambler who constantly gets himself into all kinds of trouble (Wyatt has to get him out of it early on in the film). They first (by accident) meet in a town where Wyatt is to pick up a prisoner and Doc is just passing through also. They meet again in Dodge City where Wyatt is the town marshal and their shaky relationship continues, but seems to get more friendly as they slowly develop a mutual respect for each other as they begin to learn more about what makes the other tick. Of course in the end after the big showdown with the Clanton gang in Tombstone, the men have the utmost care and respect for each other. Just 2 men who gained a mutual respect. You almost wonder if this is how the Lancaster and Douglas relationship happened in real life.

This could be considered the first true action buddy movie. Sure, there were buddy movies before this, but a lot of them were comedy teams (Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis, Abbott and Costello, etc.). Think about all the action buddy movies now where 2 guys don't get along or like each other at first, then develop a respect for each other and save each other's butts at various times throughout the movie. This is that movie, and maybe the first! And very well done to say the least.

The buddy combination isn't the only thing impressive. It has a great, catchy theme song (O.K...Corral...O.K...Corral). It also has a couple of femme fatales, Wyatt's girlfriend Laura (supersexy redhead and 50s pinup model Rhonda Fleming) and Doc's companion/lady friend Kate (Jo Van Fleet, who played James Dean's mother in EAST OF EDEN). The Wyatt/Laura relationship is way too brief for my taste, but it is well done and very mature. Doc and Kate is a addictive relationship where both seem to have a lot of low self-worth and hate and feel like they can only co-exist with each other.

Lancaster is rather exceptional as Wyatt Earp, really capturing that larger-than-life quality of the Old West legend while still making him relatable; he makes the most of it. Douglas (as Doc) is given the meatier role where he gets to play all different kinds of emotions and he does them all well. He plays Doc as tough, sarcastic, bitter, with doses of humor and charm thrown in for good measure. The teaming is memorable and also the film is just beautiful to look at with its rich technicolor look. This is one of those great old movies that whenever it comes on, I pretty much stop what I'm doing and watch it.

The film also boasts a cast of familiar film and TV veteran actors (Earl Holliman from the POLICEWOMAN series; DeForrest Kelley from STAR TREK fame; and of course Dennis Hopper from EASY RIDER and BLUE VELVET).

A thoroughly entertaining and very influential film.
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