A Movie A Day: GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL (1957)
We don’t matter, Kate. We haven’t mattered since the day we were born
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
I’m going to say upfront that this AMAD entry will be on the short side. I’ve had an unexpectedly busy day. Friends from out of town, birthday parties… all stuff that pulled me away from home (and my new purty TV)… and I was up way, way, way too late marveling at just how much better Blu-Rays look on a true 1080p set.
So, I’ve gotten little sleep and had a long busy day, capped off by my AMAD, following Burt Lancaster from yesterday’s amazing John Frankenheimer picture THE TRAIN to today’s GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL. I’m feeling extremely tired, so fair warning… this one will be short and sweet.
Directed by John (THE GREAT ESCAPE) Sturges this flick takes the incredibly well-known story of Wyatt Earp (Lancaster) and Doc Holliday (Kirk Douglas) and doesn’t really do anything new with it from today’s perspective, but I can’t tell how innovative it was at the time of release or how fresh the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral/Tombstone story was then.
The flick hits the right beats. Douglas plays Holliday as a drunk gambler with a bad cough and an even worse temper, Earp is a little more by the book, staunchly law & order, a more traditional… and most importantly, the imagery is there. The Earp brothers walking down empty streets, joined by Holliday being the most famous.
There is a deeper focus on character relationships than I remember in other Wyatt Earp stories, specifically Doc Holliday’s rocky and ill-fated relationship with Jo Van Fleet’s Kate Fisher.
Sturges did a good job directing this picture, but I will say it feels much longer than its 2 hours… or maybe that’s just because I’m tired.
But no matter what they get so much right that it’s hard to nitpick. Douglas is fantastic, and so is Lancaster, but in a much more one-note performance than we’ve seen over the past couple of films. His Earp is actually not all that interesting, but it’s a tribute to Lancaster’s charisma and likability as an actor that it came off at all.
You should also keep an eye out for some really interesting character actors who pop up, like Lee Van Cleef early on as a man gunning for Doc Holliday… he goes out way too easy for Lee Van Cleef, I have to say. There was a man’s man for you, incredibly young here, still a decade away from being immortalized by Leone.
John Ireland plays baddie outlaw Johnny Ringo, a young Dennis Hopper plays a young sibling of the main baddie clan, a year after appearing in GIANT, crazy-eyed Jack Elam is a gunslinger and a very young Bones McCoy, DeForest Kelley as a younger Earp brother.
Another big, big plus to this movie is a fantastic score by Dimitri Tiomkin and some good, if way, way over-used cowboy songs sung by Frankie Laine (who also sung the great opening to BLAZING SADDLES. The score is good, the opening song is great, but they soon get incredibly redundant, basically becoming a mini-recap after every big scene, telling us exactly what we just saw. Yeah, that got pretty damn annoying after a while.
This is an enjoyable movie, but honestly TOMBSTONE is a much greater retelling of this story and as much as I loved the nuance Kirk Douglas gave to Holliday, I just can’t shake Val Kilmer in the role.
Final Thoughts: I hope that wasn’t too half-assed, but I am falling asleep at the keyboard and need some sleep to be bright-eyed and busy-tailed in the morning. GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL is a fine movie, but not one that knocked me out. A solid 6.5-7 out of 10 type flick.
Here’s what we have lined up for the next week:
Sunday, November 23rd: MYSTERY STREET (1948)
Monday, November 24th: BORDER INCIDENT (1949)
Tuesday, November 25th: THE TIN STAR (1957)
Wednesday, November 26th: ON THE BEACH (1959)
Thursday, November 27th: TWELVE O’CLOCK HIGH (1949)
Friday, November 28th: GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT (1947)
Saturday, November 29th: PANIC IN THE STREETS (1950)
See you tomorrow for MYSTERY STREET, a review I promise to be full-on, following director John Sturges!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Nov. 23, 2008, 4:21 a.m. CST
Doc comes back from the dead to fight along side Wyat for one last battle. Chuck Norris plays the baddie.
Nov. 23, 2008, 4:43 a.m. CST
Kirk Douglas or Burt Lancaster?
Nov. 23, 2008, 8:20 a.m. CST
*Panic in the Streets* is a great film, and ahead of its time. Everyone who hasn't seen it should watch along with Quint.
Nov. 23, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST
I wonder if this movie came up in conversations on the set of the Star Trek episode where the gunfight at the O.K. corral is reproduced?
Nov. 23, 2008, 9:34 a.m. CST
Don't exempt Russell. His performance in that movie was just as cartoony as everybody else's aside from Kilmer's. Fun movie though.
Nov. 23, 2008, 10:04 a.m. CST
by The Funketeer
Yeah, I saw that too. Where'd it go? I'm too lazy to see if I missed the write up.
Nov. 23, 2008, 10:45 a.m. CST
Usually a can't miss actor. Also a great film. KD was really good in this. Can we build a time machine and go back to the mid 50's bring Burt back and make him the new Captain America???
Nov. 23, 2008, 11:31 a.m. CST
Last Train From Gun Hill, the western Sturges made after O.K. Corral. It doesn't touch Magnificent Seven, of course, but it's a great little forgotten western with Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn that could use some play in this column.
Nov. 23, 2008, 12:45 p.m. CST
LOST is everywhere. Even in Westerns!
Nov. 23, 2008, 1:15 p.m. CST
Can't wait for your review on this one. Watched it once or twice and found it kind of annoying (how many bloody times do you need to sing Waltzing Matilda mate?!) but then I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road and then saw the movie again and I got chills watching it (and suddenly Waltzing Matilda made sense). It's like On The Road To Australia - less violent but no less tragic.
Nov. 23, 2008, 1:58 p.m. CST
I Walk Alone, a 194* Gangster/Film Noir where Lancaster is fresh out of prison and runs into trouble from his ex-partner Douglas. Scorsese talks about it on his Personal Journey Through American Film DVD. <p> Good double feature with Panic in the Streets is the B rip off, The Killer That Stalked New York, with Evelyn Keyes.
Nov. 23, 2008, 3:53 p.m. CST
since natalie's family/friends said they'll reveal it after he dies adn seeing as how kirk isnt compost yet...
Nov. 23, 2008, 8:07 p.m. CST
by Raymond Shaw
I haven't seen it for many years but when I was 14 or 15 I thought "The Devil's Disciple" was great. I think Laurence Olivier was in it as well. It's set during the American Revolution as I recall.
Nov. 23, 2008, 10:08 p.m. CST
by Dr Eric Vornoff
How fresh was this story in the 50s? Well seeing how it had already been told definitively by John Ford a decade earlier, I'm guessing not very. Seriously, how has this discussion got this far and no one's mentioned My Darling Clementine? Ford actually met Earp in his early Hollywood days and got the story from him first hand. And victor Mature is a (surprisingly) great Doc Holliday.
Nov. 23, 2008, 11:04 p.m. CST
by Uncle Stan
Nov. 23, 2008, 11:48 p.m. CST
While I must admit it is amazing that no one mentioned My Darling Clementine, and I will agree it is a great movie (in fact one of the greatest westerns ever) I don't think you can look at it as a very accurate depiction of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I mean, yes he got the story from Earp himself, but Earp was not one of the most reliable sources.
Nov. 24, 2008, 11:38 a.m. CST
by Mosquito March
I seem to remember that the title gunfight in this production had seemingly dozens of characters running in an out of buildings, crashing through windows, shooting people off of roofs, etc. TOMBSTONE suffered from the same big Hollywood shoot-'em-up mentality. Give me the gunfight from WYATT EARP any day of the week. Short and brutal is always more bad-ass than drawn-out and clean. And, as far as sprawling, multi-shooter Western gunfights go, the chaotic final fight in OPEN RANGE is the most bad-ass showdown there is. Why? Because, the fighters don't have time to aim their pistols when they're being shot at, and they miss a hell of a lot more than they actually hit.
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