This revisionist telling of the Earp legend won't please everyone, so if you'll be offended by the portrayal of the Earps here as opportunistic heels, it's a fair bet you should stay away. A 1998 compilation of fact based histories titled "Gunfighters of the West" from Wellspring Entertainment offers a compelling view of both the Earps and the Clantons, and neither is pretty. While the Clantons and McLaury's represented the rowdy 'cowboy' element, the Earps weren't above running gambling tables and brothels, while operating as a veritable protection racket for the good folks of Tombstone. Virgil was the assistant town marshal to Sheriff Johnny Behan, and Morgan often rode shotgun on the Benson stagecoach. Both Behan and Wyatt had designs on becoming Sheriff of Cochise County (not Tombstone), because that's where the money was. The county sheriff job, through taxation and other forms of revenue, was worth about forty thousand dollars; translate that into more than a half million today.
Fact and fiction parallel nicely here in the latter half of the picture when Wyatt (Harris Yulin) tries to make a deal with Ike Clanton (Michael Witney) by offering twenty thousand dollars for turning in Ringo Kid (Denver John Collins) for the stagecoach robbery. Historically, the smooth and popular Johnny Behan got Wyatt to back out of running for County Sheriff if Wyatt would accept a Chief Deputy position, with both splitting the spoils of the office. When Behan reneged, the bad blood between the two only heightened, and was made more complicated by Wyatt moving in on Behan's girl, Josephine 'Josie' Marcus.
But wait a minute, this is John Henry 'Doc' Holliday's picture. A dentist by trade, and a gambler and gunman by conviction, Stacy Keach's portrayal rivals that of Val Kilmer's in 'Tombstone" (personally, I like Kilmer better). Doc's reputation as the fastest, deadliest and best gunfighter of the territory was well warranted, but it surprised me (and quite frankly bothered me), that the film writers had Doc involved in that cowardly kill of The Kid in the finale. Along with the entirely one sided portrayal of the Earps as dirt bags, it's not too much of a stretch to say that even-handedness didn't get in the way of this story's outcome.
All that said, it's probably wishful thinking that a completely unbiased telling of the OK Corral legend could ever be told, with adherents on both sides of the fence regarding the reputations of the Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday. If you side with the detractors, you'll probably go along with Doc's assessment when he says to his friend - "You sound like bad people Wyatt". Earp's response - "We are John".