Cast and Crew: John Sturges (Director); Leon Uris (Screenwriter); Hal B. Wallis (Producer); Dimitri Tiomkin (Score); Rhonda Fleming, Jo Van Fleet, Earl Holliman, Frank Faylen, Whit Bissell, DeForest Kelley, Kenneth Tobey, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam
What It’s About: Wyatt Earp (Burt Lancaster) runs into ‘Doc’ Holliday (Kirk Douglas) in one town after another in his capacity as a lawman, and a strange friendship blooms between the two men. When both end up against the Clantons (Lyle Bettger and Dennis Hopper) and their hired gun Johnny Ringo (John Ireland) in Tombstone, the two friends will rely on one another to survive.
Why Watch it Today?: The famous gunfight took place today in 1881, inspiring countless films, including Tombstone and Wyatt Earp in the 1990s and My Darling Clementine in the 1940s, among others (including a truly horrible version in an early Doctor Who serial, with the Doctor being mistaken for Doc Holliday). Gunfight at the O.K. Corral takes a very different approach than most, highlighting the relationship between the two men and casting the often paired Lancaster and Douglas. The pacing is slow by modern standards, but its great fun to see these two actors play off one another, the supporting cast is fun, and the final gunfight is solid.
Where to Get It: Netflix (rental), Libraries, or Amazon and iTunes
How accurate is this movie? The trailer gets the year and day of the month the gunfight happened wrong:
Since this was my mom’s favorite version of the titular gunfight, it’s the one I’ve seen the most. “Slow” doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s one of those films that taught me to distrust Westerns. Pretty sure that’s why I’ve always considered Tombstone to be “my” version of this famous event, though Wyatt Earp had its moments.
I grew up on Westerns, though not on this one; mainly I saw a lot of Clint Eastwood and a selection of John Wayne films (never the right ones though, aside from The Searchers). I mainly picked it because I’ve seen it more recently than Tombstone, I’m a big fan of Lancaster and Douglas (particularly together) and, unlike this film, Tombstone doesn’t need much help with publicity; its one of the few Westerns since the 1970s to have a large fan base. I also enjoyed seeing Dennis Hopper as the one possibly redeemable Clanton, it was a hoot seeing him so young. Tombstone was certainly a blast the one time I saw it, which was when it hit theaters. If I had to pick one right now, I’d probably say that My Darling Clementine is the best movie; but since it’s also just barely concerned with the famous gunfight and, from what I recall reading, is even more inaccurate than either today’s movie or Tombstone, I disqualified it. I hope to revisit Tombstone in time for next year.