Tombstone (1993): OK Corral and After

I have tried repeatedly to write a review that would do this beleaguered film justice. Each time I start rapping the keyboard on my laptop I can get no further than three paragraphs.

So I sat down today and started researching the film and its subject matter again. I am not a stranger to the town of Tombstone and the disputes and daily arguments between the main factions. I have always had a fascination for the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral and the Earp’s ride of retribution afterwards.

That the gunfight and the events following are almost common knowledge is down to the feuding newspapers of the day. One paper supported the Earp’s and their ‘town’ backers of businesses and traders. The other paper supported the Clanton’s, Sheriff Johnny Behan  and their ‘cattlemen’ supporters.

The film shows this divide from the very beginning. The ‘Cowboys’ were an organised crime outfit that not only rustled cattle, they robbed and murdered and were even thought responsible for the murder of Mexican troops who were on their way to deposit gold,  bullion and Peso’s in the Tombstone banks.

That there was tension between the two factions is a matter of fact. Kurt Russell‘s portrayal of Wyatt Earp is easily the best I’ve ever seen. He hits the right notes of righteousness and weariness of the law business and his intention to settle down with his wife and family around him.

Sam Elliot and Bill Paxton (in the first role where he actually plays a good guy) played their parts equally well. Elliot as the stiff-necked and doomed Earp brother Morgan and Paxton as the eager and righteous (and most experienced of all the brothers in the world of law enforcement in real life) Virgil both help bring this strong willed family to life.

Michael Biehn, Powers Boothe, Jason Priestly, Val Kilmer and Dana Delany all provide the ambiance and backbone of the film. Kilmer (who lost so much weight to play the consumptive Doc Holliday that he made himself ill) almost stole the show as the man who could not fear death as it was already a constant companion.

Biehn as the over educated yet bestial Johnny Ringo and Boothe as the over bearing Brocius were brilliantly cast as the two ‘main men’ behind the Cowboys gang.

The film looks stunning capturing the colours and hues of a ‘boom town’ in the late 1800’s American west. The sets, the costumes and the props all look great. Overall this film shows the greatest attention to the facts leading up to and following the infamous gunfight. There are a few things that the film makers have chosen to change or gloss over, but the fact remains that this film is pretty damn accurate.

Tombstone. Allen street 1880

The actual gunfight is a perfect example of the ‘liberties’ taken by the film makers. In reality the entire gunfight at the OK Corral lasted under 30 seconds. Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne both fled the area when the fighting started and Ike did tell Wyatt that he was not armed, to which Wyatt replied, “Get fighting or get out. [sic]”

No one entered a   photo  studio to be shot down.

Incredibly, most of the important details they got right. Virgil Earp did give Doc Holliday the sawn off shotgun and took his walking stick in return. The Earps entered the vacant lot behind the Corral not expecting a fight, Sheriff Behan who met the Earp’s as they were walking towards the Corral told them that the Clanton’s were not armed.

When Virgil called for the Clanton’s to turn over their weapons and guns were pulled and cocked by the gang Virgil shouted out, ” Hold! I did not mean that (or ‘Hold on! I did not mean that!) and a party from each side opened fire simultaneously.

Behan did attempt to arrest the Earps immediately following the gunfight and Wyatt did indeed say, “I won’t be arrested today. I am right here and am not going away.”

In reality there was a trial and the Earps, as well as Holliday were found innocent of any wrong doing. This was what inflamed the already bitter feud between the Cowboys and the Earps.

That Wyatt Earp and Josephine Marcus were a couple was common knowledge at the time.

Russell’s own feud with Kevin Costner about the film (which Costner was meant to be in) lead to Costner leaving the project and starting up his own version of events in the the mediocre Wyatt Earp (1994). After he left Tombstone, Costner then lead a ‘hate’ campaign against Russell’s film and attempted to prevent it from getting distributed by any major studio.

Suffice to say that history repeated itself with Russell’s Earp’s winning against the nefarious actions of the pretender (Costner). Tombstone opened well and pulled in a decent box office receipt. Costner’s film did not do as well.

I can vaguely remember as a child travelling through Arizona with my parents. We stopped at Tombstone and someone (dammed if I can remember who) took pictures of the OK Corral for our own posterity. For years the entire gunfight has been re-enacted for thousands if not millions of tourists. I have never seen one of these re-enactments. I don’t need to. I can picture the entire thing in my mind.

Of course if I’m feeling lazy, I can always watch Tombstone.

Because folks, it’s about as accurate as you can get.

*If you’d like to read more about the Earp’s and the gunfight at the OK Corral, check out Wikipedia, it’s a good starting point and will reference many different sites for more information.*

One Lovely Blog Award! Thanks! Just What the Doctor Ordered

One Lovely Blog Award. Cheers george-b!

I was very chuffed to be nominated for this award by george-b  over at euzicasa yesterday! Cheers mate, it was just what I needed to get me started this week!

I had a friend around yesterday who was checking on whether the rumours of my still being alive were true and that the surgeons did indeed find the presence of a heart in my chest.

One cup of tea and coffee later, he looked at me closely and said, “I’m wearing you out. I’ll be going now, don’t forget to call if you need anything.” I did feel a bit tired.

I decided that I’d write something about 9/11 and how it had impacted on me, a ‘yank’ living abroad, and I couldn’t get past two paragraphs.

I decided that another coffee was in order and after making it, I started from scratch and still could not get much further than three paragraphs.

Three very short paragraphs.

It then dawned on me that perhaps I had exhausted my meagre intellectual pool on my social visit. I jumped at this excuse and decided to give my brain a rest and have a long soaking bath instead.

It was after getting out of the bath that I got george-b’s comment informing my that he’d put my name up for the ‘One Lovely Blog Award’ and in case you missed his blog post here’s a link to it: One Lovely Blog Award – second time around is sweeter.

I decided to write on this new development, but,  I was still not getting around the ‘three paragraph’ stonewall. I watched Tombstone, the vastly entertaining Wyatt Earp film by Kurt Russell and co. My brain was so tired that, if threatened, I could not have written the most abbreviated shopping list in the world.

It was only after sleeping for well over 12 hours, that my mind has recovered from it’s hour long visit from yesterday.

So! The One Lovely Blog Award is another of those ‘feel good’ awards that helps the the blogging community identify itself and lets the same community learn a bit more about the folks who populate it. It’s a bit of fun, a bit ‘self indulgent’ (But honestly, isn’t that what blogging really is? Our creative self indulgences in print?) and a good natured way for blogs of all disciplines to shine a bit. *Whew! That was a long paragraph!*

There are only 3 rules connected with this award, which is not bad at all in the world of blogging awards, and pretty simple.

1. Give credit to the awesome person who nominated you. 

2.  Describe 7 things about yourself:

1. I have just been realised from hospital after emergency open heart by-pass surgery.

2. I am single again after almost 27 years of marriage.

3. I am not in a hurry to have any ‘deep and meaningful’ relationships with anyone at the moment.

4. I am in the process of ‘re-discovering’ myself.

5. I have worked as a professional actor.

6. I have always hated the way my recorded voice sounds.

7. I am completely addicted to real coffee.

3. Nominate 15 other bloggers:

1. Tim The Film Guy 

2. leOpard13

3. Deep Rem Rum

4. Marked Movies

5. Noah’s Ark 13

6. Christine Friesenhahn

7. Daphne Probst

8. Fortyteen Candles

9. oatmeal&art 

10. jennifermdarling

11. Terry Malloy’s Pigeon Coop 

12. Cinema Schminema

13. Cinema Train

14. Out of Fal

15. My Far Away Places

And that, as they say, is that. I can only apologise in advance to those  who did not ‘make’ the list. I follow so many wonderful blogs that I have to use a sort of ‘shorthand’ lottery. If you were missed, it doesn’t mean that you are forgotten.

Thanks again for the award!

12/09/2012