Jump to: Spoilers (12)
The line quoted by Doc at the end of the fight at the OK Corral is historically true, and was reported in the Tombstone papers reporting the fight. When confronted by one of the cowboys at point blank range, the cowboy reportedly said, "I got you now Doc, you son of a bitch!", to which Doc gleefully retorted, "You're a daisy if you do!"
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Some years after the death of Doc Holliday, Wyatt was quoted in an interview as saying, "Doc was a dentist, not a lawman or an assassin, whom necessity had made a gambler; a gentleman whom disease had made a frontier vagabond; a philosopher whom life had made a caustic wit; a long lean ash-blond fellow nearly dead with consumption, and at the same time the most skillful gambler and the nerviest, speediest, deadliest man with a six-gun that I ever knew."
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When the Earps first enter Tombstone, a grave marker in the cemetery says "Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a .44, No Les No more." A real-life tombstone in Tombstone, Arizona, with that epitaph has been on display for at least 60 years. Lester Moore was a Wells Fargo agent murdered in Naco, Arizona in 1880 by Hank Dunston. Dunston also died in the fight and was buried in Naco.
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Doc Holiday's wink to Billy Clanton just before the culmination of the O.K. Corral gun fight was completely improvised by Val Kilmer
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Val Kilmer practiced for a long time on his quick-draw speed, and gave his character a Southern Aristocrat accent. The southern accent is an authentic touch, as Holliday was a cousin (several generations removed) of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With the Wind".
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Robert Mitchum was signed on to star as Old Man Clanton. Prior to principal photography, he fell from his horse and injured his back, forcing him to quit the part. Instead, Mitchum provides the narration at the beginning and end of the film.
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According to Val Kilmer, screenwriter Kevin Jarre insisted the actors wear real wool costumes, in accordance with the time period. In the Birdcage Theater scene, Kilmer says a thermometer on the set read 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius). Kilmer suggested jokingly that was the reason Doc Holliday killed so many people. "It's just, like, he wore wool in the summer, in the Arizona territory, and that made him mad."
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Wyatt Earp became a consultant to the motion picture industry advising on westerns after he moved to Hollywood in 1915. He frequently visited the sets of several silent films directed by John Ford and starring actor Harry Carey. In the movie Tombstone the role of Marshal Fred White was played by Harry Carey Jr.
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Wyatt Earp died in 1929 having never been so much as scratched by a single bullet. The fact his name is known above, for instance, Virgil's, the marshall of Tombstone at the time of the famous gunfight, is largely due to Wyatt's self-promotion. Before his death he walked in Hollywood circles, and John Wayne once claimed to have met him, apparently modelling his famous walk on that of Wyatt Earp.
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Here is the translation of what Doc and Johnny Ringo are saying to one another in Latin: Doc Holliday: In vino veritas. (In wine there is truth.) Johnny Ringo: Age quod agis. (Do what you do.) Doc Holliday: Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego. (Let Apella the Jew believe, not I.) Johnny Ringo: Juventus stultorum magister. (Youth is the teacher of fools.) Doc Holliday: In pace requiescat. (Rest in peace.) The line "Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego" (Let Apella the Jew believe, not I) was confusing to viewers; scholarly papers showed that Romans used the phrase to show contempt for Judaism's belief that divine power was involved in everyday life.
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At the Birdcage Theater, one of the cowboys sees the juggler, "Professor Gilman" and says "Aw! Professor Gilman? I seen him in Bisbee. He catches stuff." To which another cowboy stands up, pulls a gun and says "Hey, Professor! Catch this!" and shoots one of the indian pins he's juggling. This is based on a true anecdote told in the Time Life book series "The Old West-Gunfighters" profile of the OK Corral shoot-out. As in real life, the juggler raced off stage yelling "My God! They're really shooting at us!" Gillam was actually performing a show in which blanks would be fired at him, and he would spit slugs out of his mouth that he had already prepared, when the cowboy made his "Catch this" remark.
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George P. Cosmatos liked that in the script, the gunfight at O.K. Corral wasn't the end of something, it was the beginning of something.
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Willem Dafoe was the original choice to play Doc Holliday, but Buena Vista refused to distribute the film if he was cast, due to Dafoe's role in the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
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It was Val Kilmer's idea to whistle on the way to the O.K. Corral.
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Just before the "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" sequence, Josie is fleetingly seen inside Fly's Photographic Studio posing for the now famous (and authenticity-disputed) photograph, "Kaloma". The almost nude lady in this photograph is not really Josephine Marcus in Tombstone, but instead seems to be an East Coast showgirl from 1913 or 1914, based on the copyright date on the photo itself.
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In reality Johnny Ringo did not die at the hands of Doc Holliday. On July 14, 1882, Ringo's body was found lying against the trunk of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley, near Chiricahua Peak in Arizona Territory. A neighboring property owner heard a single gunshot on the afternoon of July 13 and discovered Ringo's body the following day. His feet were wrapped in strips of cloth torn from his undershirt, probably because his horse had gotten loose from its picket and bolted with his boots tied to the saddle--a method commonly used at that time to keep scorpions out of them. There was a bullet hole in his right temple and an exit wound at the back of his head. His revolver had one round expended and was found hanging by one finger in his hand. His horse was found two miles away with his boots still tied to the saddle. A coroner's inquest stated his cause of death as unknown, but supposed by gunshot. His body is buried near the base of the tree where it was discovered.
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Longtime veteran western actor Glenn Ford had originally signed on as Marshall White. However, poor health forced him to withdraw. The role went to Harry Carey, Jr., who was originally cast as a wagonmaster.
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Harry Carey, Jr. was 62 when he played Marshal Fred White, who died at 31.
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In the movie, Curly Bill Brocius is not charged with the murder of Marshal Fred White, as there were no witnesses to the shooting. In real life, charges were not filed because prior to his death, Marshal White explained the shooting was an accident.
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The expression "I'm your huckleberry", spoken by Doc means "I'm the perfect man for the job." It could indeed be a reference to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, then known as the sidekick of Tom Sawyer, before Huck got his own book.
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The cowboy firing the pistol at the camera in the beginning credits of this film is actually from the final scene of the 1903 short "The Great Train Robbery", a film by the Edison Company. The scene frightened audience members who believed they were about to be shot. The actor is unknown.
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When Virgil returns to the saloon and collapses after being shot, Kurt Russell accidentally bangs Sam Elliott's head on the bar as he lifts him to lay him flat on the floor.
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Director George P. Cosmatos is quoted as saying that all lightning and mustaches are real. The lightning to which George is referring are the images of lightning that were filmed on-location during monsoon season, however, lightning effects in acting scenes were created with "Lightning Strikes 250K Linear" units.
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Kevin Jarre began as director, filming all of Charlton Heston's scenes and a few other scenes which were re-shot once George P. Cosmatos took over. George P. Cosmatos was given two additional cameras, a camera crane (Chapman Lenny Arm), remote hot head, and additional crew in order to be successful.
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During the famous gunfight, members of the two opposing parties were initially only about 6 feet (1.8 m) apart, and about 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds.
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Though the maiming of Virgil Earp and the murder of the youngest Earp sibling Morgan was shown in the film as happening on the same night after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881, in real life the ambush on Virgil and Morgan's murder each happened separately. Virgil Earp was crippled a couple of months later after the gun battle in an ambush one night, in late December 1881. Morgan Earp was murdered about two and a half months later, in March of 1882, as he was playing pool in a local saloon called Campell & Hatch's. As he lay mortally wounded in the back, his last words were "This is the last game of pool I'll ever play." This incident was the impetus for Wyatt Earp's infamous Vendetta Ride, in an effort to hunt down Morgan's killers.
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The nocturne played by Doc Holliday is Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72, No. 1.
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Just prior to the O.K. Corral fight, Wyatt Earp is seen taking a Colt peacemaker with an unusually long ten inch barrel, and an engraved plaque inlaid in the grip from a presentation case. Such a weapon has long been associated with the legend of Wyatt Earp, probably stemming from the story that dime novelist Ned Buntline ordered several such guns from Colt, and gave them to the peace officers of Dodge City as gifts. In spite of the popularity of this story, there is no credible documentation that Wyatt Earp ever owned or used such a "Buntline special". Most credible accounts agree, that on the day of the infamous shoot-out, Wyatt Earp was armed with a Smith and Wesson model 1869 break top-style revolver of the same type that Virgil Earp is seen using in the movie.
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The passage Doc quotes, "And close your eyes with holy dread, / For he on honey-dew hath fed, / And drunk the milk of Paradise" is from "Kublai Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
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Many scenes and subplots, cut from the film, still did not make the expanded DVD version: one sequence was the cowboys' bonfire rally and mourning scene, which takes place the night they buried the O.K. Corral dead. A brief shot can be seen in some of the trailers (Curly Bill throwing a bottle of whiskey into the bonfire).
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Val Kilmer had the art department fill his deathbed with ice which he laid on. Not only to shake more in the performance but to create a pain equal to what Doc might have felt saying goodbye to his best friend.
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Sylvester Stallone recommended that George P. Cosmatos would be a better choice for directing (Cosmatos directed Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Cobra (1986)). But Cosmatos was actually a ghost director for Kurt Russell, the real director.
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Kevin Jarre's original script for this movie was significantly longer than the final film. It was intended to be an epic, detailing the lives of all the combatant parties in the story. After Jarre was fired as director, George P. Cosmatos hired John Fasano to trim the script to focus primarily on the Earp family (to make the already-delayed shoot more manageable). Fasano received co-author credit in early promotional materials, but his name was removed from the film's credits (probably due to Writer Guild arbitration). Instead, Fasano was given an associate producer credit.
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The participants of what became known as the Gunfight at the O.K Corral were: Virgil, Morgan, and Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holliday vs. Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and Billy Claiborne.
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Val Kilmer played Doc Holliday, a role previously played in three different 1959 television productions by Adam West, who later became Batman (1966). It was upon seeing this film that Joel Schumacher was inspired to cast Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995). Cesar Romero also played the part in Frontier Marshal (1939). Romero also played The Joker on Batman (1966).
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Rancher Henry Hooker once employed Billy the Kid prior to the Lincoln County War of 1878 which made Billy infamous.
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Josephine Earp (maiden name Marcus) and Wyatt Earp are buried side by side in Colma, CA. She, Earp's common law wife, went by the nickname Sadie.
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Prior to being allied to The Cowboys in Arizona, Sherman McMasters was a Texas Ranger. He met "Curly Bill" Brocius when he was a prisoner under McMaster's Ranger division. Curly Bill escaped from prison in 1877, allegedly with McMaster's help. He rode with The Cowboys, suspected of being involved in a stage robbery and horse theft, until changing allegiance to join the Earps in 1881 prior to the fight near the O.K Corral. Some accounts have since indicated he may have been working undercover for the Texas Rangers to break up the outlaw Cowboys.
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At its founding in March 1879, Tombstone had a population of just 100. Two years later, in late 1881, the population was more than 7,000 (excluding Chinese, Mexicans, women, and children).
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Two locations were used to make the town of Tombstone, Arizona look bigger.
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The gunfight was not well known to the American public until 1931, when Stuart Lake published the initially well-received biography "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal" two years after Earp's death. The book was the basis for the film My Darling Clementine (1946), directed by John Ford, and the later film Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) after which the shootout became known by that name.
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In 1928, Billy Breakenridge published his memoirs of life in Tombstone and the old west titled "Helldorado: Bringing the Law to the Mesquite." Wyatt Earp was portrayed as a thief, pimp, crooked gambler, and murderer, contrary to the image Earp had built around himself. Earp loudly protested the book's contents until his death in 1929, and his wife continued afterward. Historical investigations have since proven Breakenridge's description of Earp to be accurate.
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George P. Cosmatos listed some Western film influences: Red River (1948), High Noon (1952), My Darling Clementine (1946), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Wild Bunch (1969), and Rio Bravo (1959). He knew Sergio Leone personally, a friend of his in Italy whom he called "a lovely man". He admired European directors of American films like himself, half-Italian and half-Greek, and like Michael Curtiz and Sir Alfred Hitchcock, because they had a different point of view.
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Billy Claiborne was convinced a man named "Buckskin" Frank Leslie killed Johnny Ringo. So convinced was he that he returned to Tombstone in 1882 and confronted Leslie in the Oriental Saloon. After being forced to leave he lay in wait outside with a rifle and opened fire on Leslie when he walked into the street but missed wherein Leslie promptly fired his pistol and hit Claiborne in the chest. As he died Claiborne's last words were reported to be "Frank Leslie killed Johnny Ringo, I saw him do it".
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Mickey Rourke turned down the role of Johnny Ringo.
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The train car on which Virgil and the wives leave after departing Tombstone is the same train car that Wyatt steps off of in the beginning of the movie (No. 5150), which implies they filmed both scenes at the same time using that train.
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At one point Wyatt says that they'll all be "richer than Croesus". Croesus was a Greek king in 560 B.C. who was renowned for his wealth, and is credited with issuing the first gold coins for general use.
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The Latin phrases spoken by Doc and Ringo have implied meaning beyond their literal translation. The conversation could be translated into English this way: DOC: In wine there is truth. RINGO: Do what you do best. DOC: The Jew Apella might believe it, but not I. (from Horace's Satires, book 1, satire 5, lines 100-101) RINGO: (tapping his gun) Youth is the teacher of fools. DOC: May he rest in peace. (from Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado).
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Before being Sheriff of Cochise County (Tombstone), Democrat John H. Behan (1844-1912) served as Sheriff of Yavapai County (Prescott) from 1871-1873. Virgil W. Earp (1843-1905) was nominated as the Republican candidate for Sheriff of Yavapai County in 1900. He subsequently withdrew for health reasons.
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Wyatt Earp tells his brothers that he was only ever in one shootout where he killed a man. That man was George Hoy in Dodge City, Kansas. In the predawn hours of July 28, 1878, Hoy and several cowboys got drunk and began indiscriminately discharging their pistols in town, scaring the people. Wyatt Earp, serving as Assistant Marshal with his partner, policeman 'Bat' Masterson, confronted the cowboys, who fled. Earp, Masterson and at least one armed civilian discharged their weapons as they ran and one bullet struck Hoy, either in his arm or leg. He kept on his horse for a short ride before falling off. Hoy would eventually die of infection. Though it was difficult to determine who fired the shot at that time, witnesses, as well as Ed Masterson, gave Earp the credit.
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Michael Biehn and Bill Paxton appeared in The Lords of Discipline (1983), The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and Navy Seals (1990). This was their fifth and final appearance on-screen together.
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A love scene between Wyatt and Josephine was cut, because George P. Cosmatos did not want to consummate the love story so fast. Part of the scene can be seen in the movie trailer. The scene was after they fortuitously ran into each other riding horses.
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Filming in Arizona was plagued with heat and scorpions.
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In 2020, Val Kilmer put an end to the longstanding hucklerberry/hucklebearer debate. He claims the line really was written as "I'm your huckleberry" in the script, meaning, 'I'm your man. You've met your match.' Kilmer set the record straight in his autobiography, entitled, aptly enough, I'm Your Huckleberry.
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When original writer Kevin Jarre saw that John Fasano had been given a screenwriting credit on the film in the early promotional material, Jarre said he would sue the studio if Fasano got credited as a writer. They gave him a producer credit instead.
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In 1988 actor Kurt Russell named his son Wyatt Russell after Wyatt Earp, the character he eventually played in this movie.
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The St. Crispin's day speech is recited by Billy Zane's character, from Henry V. St. Crispin's day is on October 25. The gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place on October 26, just a few hundred years apart.
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Adjusted for inflation, the $500 Curly Bill wins when he first meets Wyatt Earp at the faro table was equivalent to $6,700 in 1993, the year the movie was released.
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Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell played Elvis Presley in different films around this time. Kilmer played the role of the Mentor in True Romance (1993) and Russell was the voice of Elvis in Forrest Gump (1994). Russell also played the King in the television movie Elvis (1979), as well as an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland (2001).
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When Billy Bob Thornton is dealing faro, he says to one of the gamblers, "You back that queen again, you son of a bitch, I'll blow you right up that wildcat's ass!" Behind the man is a stuffed wildcat, with its butt pointed towards the players.
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Peter Sherayko, who played the character 'Texas Jack Vermillion', also served as the buckaroo (cowboy) coordinator on the film.
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Sam Elliott was considered too old to play Virgil Earp.
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The excerpt from William Shakespeare's "Henry the V" that is recited by Mr. Fabian is the same passage that Dutton Peabody speaks to himself while walking down the street in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
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Jerry Goldsmith was originally attached to score this film, but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts. Goldsmith personally recommended Bruce Broughton to score the film, and was hired by producer Andrew G. Vajna and George P. Cosmatos, who were personal friends of Goldsmith.
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George P. Cosmatos said that the snow in the ending was a contrast to all the desert seen in the film.
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In the beginning scene after the narration, when the Cowboys massacred the Rurales (federal Mexican police) Curly Bill mentions that they killed two Cowboys. This was true, and it happened earlier in 1881, and among the outlaw Cowboys killed while rustling cattle was Newman Haynes Clanton, the father of Ike and Billy Clanton.
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In a case of life mirroring art, Morgan Earp was the first of the Earp brothers to die, and Bill Paxton who played Morgan, died at age 61 in February 2017. He was outlived by the actors who played his brothers, Kurt Russell, and Sam Elliott. The ages of the actors were similar to the real-life Earps. Virgil Earp was born in 1843, Wyatt in 1848 (5 years younger), and Morgan in 1851 (3 years younger). Elliott was born in 1944, Russell in 1951 (7 years younger), and Paxton in 1955 (4 years younger).
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Val Kilmer wrote in 2017 that Kurt Russell was a major influence in the directing of this film and that he was "solely responsible for Tombstone's success, no question." A month into production, Kevin Jarre was replaced as director after he became overwhelmed in the duty and fell behind schedule. George P. Cosmatos was brought in and hit the ground running. According to Kilmer, "I was there every minute and although Kurt's version differs slightly from mine, the one thing he's totally correct about is how hard he worked the day before, for the next day's shot list, and tremendous effort he and I both put into editing, as the studio [Hollywood Pictures] wouldn't give us any extra time to make up for the whole month we lost with the first director. I watched Kurt sacrifice his own role and energy to devote himself as a storyteller, even going so far as to draw up shot lists to help our replacement director, George Cosmatos, who came in with only two days prep." Russell admitted as much in a 2006 interview with True West magazine, when the actor said he made it clear to studio brass he did not want his name listed as director, but that he did help out behind the scenes quite a bit.
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The score contains strong echoes of Max Steiner's music for The Searchers (1956) with variations on the "Indian Traders" theme used midway through the movie.
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As Wyatt and the others are about to finish off the cowboys, Holiday says, "The last charge of Wyatt Earp and his immortals." The "immortals" is a reference to the Myrmidon; the warriors of Achilles.
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There is always some argument about the line "I'm your huckleberry" used in the film. In the first episode of Yancy Derringer that premiered in 1958, John Colton (Kevin Hagen) offers Yancy (Jock Mahoney) a position to work for him but outside of the law; Yancy's reply is, "I'm your huckleberry."
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The Gunfight at the O.K Corral should more accurately be called the Gunfight NEAR the O.K Corral as it really took place in a vacant lot next to Fly's photographic studio close to the O.K Corral.
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Jennifer Connelly had auditioned for the role of Josephine Marcus.
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When Wyatt is at the train station standing on the loading platform, giving Ike Clanton his "You tell em' I'm comin', and Hell's comin' with me!" speech, really going crazy on Ike, he's standing in front of train car #5150 (the California Welfare & Institutions code for a person who poses a risk to themselves and/or others).
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In an interview in the late 1990s, John Carpenter claimed he almost directed this film.
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Two big-budget Hollywood films of the Wyatt Earp / Doc Holliday history were released in quick succession during the mid-1990s: Tombstone (starring Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Mattie Blaylock) and Wyatt Earp (starring Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp, Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday, and Mare Winningham as Mattie Blaylock). Val Kilmer and Mare Winningham were classmates and high school sweethearts at Chatsworth High School; in Kilmer's 2020 memoir, he calls her his "first real girlfriend."
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Michael Douglas was considered for the role of Doc Holliday, a role previously played by his father, Kirk Douglas in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
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In the original teasers for the film, John Fasano is credited as being co-screenwriter. His name disappeared by the time the trailers were released.
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The piano playing the nocturne is extremely out of tune. This sort of thing happens when the instrument has been badly jostled for a long period of time, such as when being hauled on a wagon. Considering the number of saloons in Tombstone at that time, it is likely that a piano tuner would have made the rounds of the town's saloons and probably would have traveled on a circuit. In western films and TV shows out-of-tune pianos have always been cliché, with this film likely providing the most extreme example of them all.
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Although relatively unknown to casual western fans, Jack Elam also portrayed Turkey Creek Jack Johnson in an episode of 'Rawhide', 'The Pitchwagon'.
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Actors such as Michael Madsen, Denis Leary, Brendan Fraser, Gabrielle Anwar, and Timothy Hutton were all interested in staring in the film.
Kevin Jarre wanted Liam Neeson for the role of Wyatt Earp, and David Bowie for the role of Doc Holliday. Jarre also considered Timothy Hutton for the role of Sheriff John Behan, and Tommy Lee Jones for the role of Curly Bill Brocius.
Jeremy Irons was considered for the role of Doc Holliday.
Both of the actresses who played Wyatt's love interests are named Dana.
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Of interesting note: after "Mr. Fabian" (Billy Zane) performs the "St. Crispin's Day" speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, the first applauding audience member to stand in praise is Powers Booth's "Curly Bill". Whether intentional or not, this bit of physical praise is noteworthy for Booth played Prince Hal in the same play during a stint with The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland during the mid 1970's.
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As a youngster Johnny Ringo and his family rented a property from the father of John W. Sheets, the first victim of the James-Younger Gang.
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Sam Elliott and Stephen Lang appeared in Gettysburg (1993).
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When Virgil and the wives depart Tombstone, their rail car is No. 5150, the California welfare code for the criminally insane, made famous by Van Halen.
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In the 1800s, a burial casket would have three handles on each side which were used to lift and carry the casket. Each of these handles was called a "huckle" and a person carrying a casket was called a "hucklebearer"; sort of like today's term "pallbearer." Many people believe that that is what Doc Holiday says when he confronts Johnny Ringo in the woods, but Val Kilmer confirmed in his autobiography that he says "I'm your huckleberry."
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John Milius was considered to take over directing the film.
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According to Jarre, Richard Gere wanted to play the role of Wyatt Earp.
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As the Earps turn the corner near the OK Corral, Sheriff Johnny Behan rushes into a photography studio, followed by an extremely brief cut of Josephine being photographed in black. This is a non-sequitur, as the photo actually was taken before she and Earp became a couple; when she was involved with Behan. The photo itself, which still exists, is very revealing. In Wyatt Earp (1994) Sheriff Behan is depicted as crudely showing the photo to his friends.
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The character of lawman Jack Vermillion (Peter Sherayko) got the moniker "Texas Jack" not because he was from Texas (he was a Virginian) but in that he was partial to Texan horse breeds.
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Features several actors who acted in James Cameron movies including Bill Paxton ("Terminator," Aliens," "True Lies," "Titanic"), Michael Biehn ("Terminator," Aliens," "Alien3"), Billy Zane ("Titanic") and Stephen Lang ("Avatar" and the future "Avatar 2").
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Kurt Russell and Michael Rooker also appeared together in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) as Ego and Yondu, respectively.
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In the original script, there was an opening sequence that would've featured Wild Bill Hickok, who would've been played by Kevin Jarre.
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John McTiernan was considered to take over directing duties, but the offer was rescinded when McTiernan had requested a two-week shutdown to prepare and review the existing footage.
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William Baldwin auditioned for the role of Doc Holliday.
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The Black Stud Horse ridden by Kurt Russell in the movie was owned by Joe Rider of Rider Ranches of Tacna, Arizona.
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Val Kilmer and Michael Biehn would appear in another film 16 years later, once again on opposite sides of the law, in 2009's Streets Of Blood.
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Bill Paxton also plays a character who has a brother called Wyatt in Weird Science (1985)
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Lisa Zane was originally considered for the role of Josephine Marcus, but Dana Delany got the role, and Zane was instead cast in the role of Kate, Doc Holliday's love interest, she would later be replaced by Joanna Pacula.
Val Kilmer appeared in True Romance earlier this year with Dennis Hopper. Hopper appeared in Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall.
Doc Holliday was previously played by Kirk Douglas and just six months later by Dennis Quaid. Val Kilmer worked with Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness, and with Quaid's wife Meg Ryan in Top Gun and The Doors.
Val Kilmer's role was played by Dennis Quaid in Wyatt Earp. Bill Paxton also shares a role with Quaid: they have both played Sam Houston.
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Both Kurt Russel and Kevin Costner played Wyatt Earp they also both played Elvis impersonators in 3000 miles to Graceland
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Cecil Hoffman (Lucinda Hobbs) played the wife of Kurt Russell's character (Colonel O'Neil) in Stargate.
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A previous telling of this story, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), starred Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday and Dennis Hopper as Billy Clanton. Val Kilmer worked with Hopper in True Romance (1993) earlier this year. He never worked with Kirk Douglas but did appear with Michael Douglas in The Ghost and the Darkness (1996).
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Doc Holiday comments that the saloon girl, Kate, was not wearing a a bustle. A bustle was a padded undergarment worn under the skirt, and over the buttocks, in order to add fullness and support the heavy weight of the dresses women wore in the 19th century. The fabric used in dresses of that period was very heavy and tended to pull the back of the skirt down, causing it to first loose its shape and then drag on the ground; the addition of a bustle prevented this from happening. It also served a purpose in terms of modesty as well as the bustle helped hide the shape and outline of a woman's hips and buttocks, wearing any kind of dress or skirt without a bustle in those days was considered to be lewd by polite society, a woman that didn't wear one was typically regarded as a trollop (slut). Typically saloon girls/whores did not wear bustles, as it is hard for a woman to lay on her back while wearing one, and they take a lot of time to remove, as such they were impractical to wear in their line of work, which also helped contribute to the conception that only trollops and whores wore a dress or skirt without a bustle.
The sheriff of Tombstone mentions, among other things, that he is Chairman of the Anti-Chinese league. There was a lot of anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States in the late 1800's, especially in the West, due to misconceptions about Chinese culture that were spread by the very few Americans who had actually been to China. There was a large influx of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. after the 1848 California Gold Rush, Chinese laborers were sought for mining work and building railroads because they worked for far less wages. One of the misconceptions was that most Chinese laborers were working as forced laborers against their will, which was mostly untrue, this combined with American workers loosing jobs to Chinese immigrants helped start and spread the anti-Chinese movement. Also Christianity was almost nonexistent in China at the time, causing a lot of prejudice against Eastern religions, especially the parts of Chinese faith and culture that made polygamy acceptable, which went directly against the very popular monogamist views of Christian religions. Due to it being common in China for a man to have both a wife and several concubines Chinese women were seen as immoral and sexually deviant, thusly a lot of Chinese women that immigrated from China were believed to be working as sex slaves and prostitutes, though in reality the proportion of Chinese women working as prostitutes wasn't much higher than women of other races, including white women. There was also the widely held misconception that Chinese women carried new diseases not seen in the U.S. that could be spread via sex, which helped to further perpetuate the belief that most Chinese women immigrating to American were immoral, unclean and prostitutes. This all lead to the Page Act of 1875, which banned the immigration of all Chinese women into the United States. This helped to strengthen the anti-Chinese sentiment in Americans, which started escalating into frequent violence against Chinese people living in America, including several massacres were both white and Hispanic people attacked and killed Chinese workers, and women believed to be prostitutes. This all culminated in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which banned all Chinese immigration into the United States for 10 years, though this ban wound up being extended several times until 1902, at which point the ban was made permanent. It was not revoked until the Magnuson Act of 1943, which repealed the ban on Chinese immigration and allowed 105 Chinese immigrants into the country each year. Limits on Chinese immigration were finally lifted entirely with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which made it unlawful to restrict immigration based solely on race.
Mattie, Wyatt's wife, did suffer from severe headaches and had a laudanum addiction in real life. Originally laudanum was a tincture of opium containing about 10% raw, powdered opium (equivalent to 1% pure morphine) that was soaked in ethanol, laudanum made in the 20th century replaced raw opium with the less toxic, and more therapeutically useful, opium alkaloids of codeine and morphine. Laudanum has been used in medicine since at least the 17th century, it was mainly used as a pain medication and cough suppressant, it was prescribed not only for serious pain but everyday things like headaches and menstrual cramps. For almost 200 years laudanum could be purchased from any druggist, which led to a number of people being addicted to the drug. It wasn't until the early 20th century that the addictive properties of opium began to be truly understood, which led to laudanum use being restricted to prescription only, and then later on becoming a controlled substance. With the advent of safer and more effective synthetic opioids, like oxycodone and hydromorphone, and a better understanding of the serious side effects of mixing opioids with alcohol, the use of laudanum had essentially halted by the mid 20th century. After the creation of the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 laudanum was placed on the Schedule II list of controlled substances with the FDA limiting its recommended use to only treat severe diarrhea. About the only other time laudanum sees use in modern medicine is to treat neonatal withdrawal syndrome, which is caused by a woman using opioids, long-term, during pregnancy thereby causing the fetus to become physically dependent on opioids, once born the baby goes into opioid withdrawal and needs to be slowly weaned off opioids.
The podcast Quantum Recast (2020) took Tombstone out of 1993 and recast it in the year 1979 with relevant actors from that year, in Quantum Recast: Tombstone - 1979: Ghost Directors, Facial Hair, Two Wyatt Earps! Oh My! (2021)
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As extraordinary as the scene is in which Wyatt kills Curly Bill Brocius in the creek, it is true. During the shoot-out in the creek, when Wyatt kills Curly Bill, the next person he shoots is Johnny Barnes (the cowboy who yells "Jesus Christ!"). As in real life, Wyatt shoots Barnes in the stomach. However, Barnes was not killed on-site. He managed to escape, and died in a farmhouse. However, before dying, he told the story of how Wyatt really did walk into a hail of Curly Bill's gunfire unscathed, walked right up to Bill, and shot him point blank with both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun.
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Doc Holliday's last words "I'll be damned" are uttered when he realizes he has bare feet. Doc swore he would "die with his boots on".
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"I'll be damned" really were the final words of John Henry "Doc" Holliday. To this day, historians have debated on why Doc said that. The main theory is that Doc had become a gunfighter hoping that someone would kill him and spare him the effects of tuberculosis, and that he was amazed that the disease is what killed him, not the drinking, chain smoking, gambling, or gun fighting.
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Val Kilmer states that during his death scene, he lay on a bed of ice, so that he would shake and feel weird, and that it worked.
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Virgil and Morgan were not shot on the same night as shown here. In fact Virgil was ambushed and wounded December 28th 1881, and warrants were issued for Ike and Phin Clanton and Pony Diehl's arrest but charges were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Morgan was shot while playing pool at 10:50pm March 18th 1882, dying an hour later. Pete Spence, Frederick Bode, Frank Stilwell, "Indian Charlie" Cruz, and one other individual were charged as suspects. The judge could not indict them because the primary witness was Spence's wife, and according to the law, a spouse cannot be compelled to testify against a spouse. The Cowboys went free.
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George P. Cosmatos liked the setting of the forest for the final shoot-out between John Henry "Doc" Holliday and Johnny Ringo, as it wasn't the usual dusty street of many Westerns.
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Despite the depiction of Johnny Ringo's death at the hand of Doc Holliday the Pueblo Daily Chieftain reported six days before Ringo's death that Holliday was in Salida, Colorado, about 670 miles (1,080 km) from Turkey Creek, Arizona; and then in Leadville, about 700 miles (1,100 km) distant, on July 18. There was still an arrest warrant outstanding on Holliday in Arizona for his part in Frank Stilwell's murder, making it unlikely that he would have entered Arizona at that time.
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The participants in what became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride after Morgan's murder were: Wyatt, Warren, and James Earp; Doc Holliday, Sherman McMaster, Jack "Turkey Creek" Johnson, Charles Smith, Dan Tipton, and John Vermillion. The members of the group they were hunting were: Johnny Behan, Frank Stilwell, Pete Spence, Ike Clanton, Florentino Cruz, Curly Bill Brocius, Johnny Ringo, Frederick Bode, Pony Diehl, Johnny Barnes, Frank Patterson, Milt Hicks, Bill Hicks, Bill Johnson, Ed Lyle, and Johnny Lyle.
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In the film, Curly Bill Brocius is depicted as deliberately shooting Fred White, killing him instantly. In reality, Curly Bill claimed that the gun accidentally discharged as White attempted to take the weapon from him. White, who had been shot in the groin, not in the chest as portrayed in the film, survived for two days and corroborated Brocius' story before succumbing to his injuries. It was White's testimony, not a lack of witnesses, that ultimately exonerated Curly Bill. For his part, Brocius expressed genuine remorse over White's death, as he had personally liked the marshal, despite their being on opposite sides of the law.
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The older brother of Frank Stilwell (Tomas Arana) suspected murderer of Morgan Earp and later murdered by Wyatt Earp, was Simpson "Comanche Jack" Stilwell, an Indian fighter, scout, Deputy U.S. Marshal, police judge, and U.S. Commissioner.
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If one looks closely during the scene where Morgan Earp dies, Wyatt's hands are covered in blood but it doesn't slide off onto Morgan's body nor does it wash off in the pouring rain. It's very much a metaphor for Wyatt's life as a gunslinger and he can't bid farewell to his bloodstained past, which is something he definitely tries to do in this movie.
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In almost every closeup throughout the film, Michael Biehn doesn't blink, to portray the wild-eyed, steely ferocity of Johnny Ringo. He finally blinks near the end of the film, indicating that he has lost his nerve in his climactic fatal gunfight with Doc Holliday.
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