Wyatt Earp: "What the hell are you doing? I told you we weren't getting involved!"
Virgil Earp: "You got us involved when you brought us here."
Wyatt Earp: "You hold on a minute, Virg-"
Virgil Earp: "Hold on, nothing! I walk around this town and look these people in the eye and it's just like someone slapping me in the face. These people are afraid to walk down the street, and I'm trying to make money off that like some g*ddamn vulture! If we're gonna have a future in this town, it's got to have some law and order!"
release year: 1993
viewing setting: home Bluray 2/23/20 and DVD, 10/27/15 and 3/9/06 and 1/27/02 (and a dozen times before that, including three in the theater in 1993-4)
synopsis: In the small but booming silver town of Tombstone, circa 1880, bandits rule...until Wyatt Earp and company show up to settle down. With this many bad-asses in one place, it's only a matter of time before tempers flare and the shooting starts.
impressions: I recall seeing the preview of this movie, in the theaters in early 1993. I thought, wow, this movie's got everybody! Well, it did - see the "acting" section below for a better idea. The film also had many great scenes, lines, gunfights, characterizations, and more. This movie takes some liberties with the history of Tombstone, its residents, and the famous gunfight...but it works. It's streamlined and immensely entertaining; very few movies have more macho moments and lines, more cool gunfights, or more likeable heroes than this one. I should note that, unlike Wyatt Earp which came out around the same time in 1993-4, this movie does little to explain the past or the motivations of Wyatt - it's almost entirely focused on his time in Tombstone. Both methods/versions have their advantages, and I recommend watching both movies. That said, this one is better-paced and more entertaining. As noted, it's just full of macho, bad-ass moments. Wyatt Earp is one of those guys who's actually been in gunfights and put his life on the line, so when he sees someone running their mouth and acting tough, he just goes right over and sets things straight. The movie has a number of classic scenes, most of which involve Val Kilmer's outstanding portrayal of Doc Holliday, a man who knows he's dying and therefore isn't afraid to live his life to the fullest.
things to watch for: Aside from the standoff at the OK Corral, any scene with Doc Holliday is a must-see.
Wyatt Earp: (Kurt Russell) Strong, direct, confident ex-lawman who just wants to settle down
Doc Holliday: (Val Kilmer) Dying shootist and gambler who fears nothing, has great and frequent quips, and is fiercely loyal to his friend Wyatt
Virgil Earp: (Sam Elliott) Wyatt's older but equally-tough brother, who takes crap from no one
Morgan Earp: (Bill Paxton) Wyatt's younger brother, not quite the seasoned tough guy his brothers are
Curly Bill Brocious: (Powers Boothe) Reckless, fun-loving gang leader who admires his foes while at the same time not backing down from them
Johnny Ringo: (Michael Biehn) Lightning-fast, murderous right-hand man of the gang
Ike Clanton: (Stephen Lang) Angry, stupid thug who talks too much
Billy Breakenridge: (Jason Priestley) Member of the bad guys' gang whose heart's not really in it
Josephine Marcus: (Dana Delany) Traveling entertainer and woman ahead of her time, who values fun and adventure more than other peoples' opinions
Big Nose Kate: (Joanna Pacula) Hot foreign chick who's attached herself to Doc Holliday
Mr. Fabian: (Billy Zane) Stage performer who tries to bring some sophistication and class to the old West
John Behan: (Jon Tenney) Town Sheriff, who wants the authority and prestige of the job but lacks the guts to actually do the job
early roles and cameos alert: Billy Bob Thornton, pre-Angelina Jolie and with a beard, is a bully driven out of a casino by the tougher Wyatt Earp. Terry O'Quinn, pre-Lost, is the mayor who thinks his town is destined to become a center of culture. Frank Stallone, brother of Sly, is a gambler who runs his mouth once too often at Doc Holliday. An aged Charlton Heston is a rancher who helps Wyatt and his posse. An unseen Robert Mitchum is the narrator at the very beginning and end of the movie.
final word: Mandatory western viewing - a classic. If you don't enjoy this movie on some level, there is something wrong with you.
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