Marshal Wyatt Earp kills a couple of men of the Clanton gang in a fight. In revenge, Clanton's thugs kill the Marshal's brother. Thus, Wyatt starts to chase the killers together with his fri... Read allMarshal Wyatt Earp kills a couple of men of the Clanton gang in a fight. In revenge, Clanton's thugs kill the Marshal's brother. Thus, Wyatt starts to chase the killers together with his friend Doc Holliday.Marshal Wyatt Earp kills a couple of men of the Clanton gang in a fight. In revenge, Clanton's thugs kill the Marshal's brother. Thus, Wyatt starts to chase the killers together with his friend Doc Holliday.
Although John Sturges' Gunfight at the O.K. Corall ten years previously proved to be popular, the director was never happy with the finished project, due in no small part to the fact that Hal B. Wallis controlled the script. Here Sturges takes control and crafts what in essence is a sequel to the 57 movie. Leaning more towards a character study with a dark edge, Hour of the Gun is refreshing in giving the Wyatt Earp/Doc Holliday characters a different story than the one we normally see on the screen; one that actually attempts historical accuracy where possible.
Viewing it now it's easy to see why the film was received coldly back on release. The Western movie was just about creaking along as a viable cinematic genre as it was, but with Sturges and Anhalt portraying one of America's folklore heroes in moral decline, it's unsurprising that it found itself out of sync with the times. However, time has been very kind to it, where over decades the re-evaluation of many a psychological Western has seen it viewed as one of the more bolder and cynical tinted oaters from the 60s.
With a fine script from Anhalt to work from, who also features as a player in the film as Holliday's whiskey smuggling carer, the cast work well. Ryan files in for villain duties as Ike Clanton and Garner as Earp and Robards as Holliday make for a suitably sombre pairing. There's also some quality in the support ranks where Albert Salmi, John Voight, Jorge Russeck and Karl Swenson leave good impressions. With Goldsmith tonally aware for the scoring and master photographer Ballard utilising the Panavision on offer for the Durango locations, it's an all round well put together production.
Some fat could have done with being trimmed off it to get it 10 minutes shorter; for the story starts to feel over long entering the last quarter. But Hour of the Gun is not only a better than your average 60s Western, it's also one of the better Wyatt Earp movies available to those interested in the subject. 7.5/10
- Aug 1, 2011