|Stars||:||Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestley, Jon Tenney, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church|
|Overview||:||Tombstone (1993) : Legendary marshal Wyatt Earp, now a weary gunfighter, joins his brothers Morgan and Virgil to pursue their collective fortune in the thriving mining town of Tombstone. But Earp is forced to don a badge again and get help from his notorious pal Doc Holliday when a gang of renegade brigands and rustlers begins terrorizing the town.|
Hollywood once again retells the story of the legendary lawman, this time in the guise of Kurt Russell. Add Val Kilmer, Sam Neill, and Bill Paxton into the mix and what you get doesn't exactly scream "A list" but what you do have is an ensemble cast that gels particularly well; this is one of those films that manages to be more than the sum of its parts. The bond of brotherhood and friendship between the Earps and Doc Holliday feels genuine and Kilmer clearly relishes the scene stealing part of sickly gentleman adrenaline junkie Holliday. Powers Booth and Michael Biehn also make charismatic villains, the scenes between Biehn and Kilmer being particularly sharp and the Peckinpah shoot outs extremely well staged. In fact the shoot out at the OK corral is one of the best versions yet filmed. It does occasionally slip into melodrama (Morgan's death being the prime example) and the climax is a little montage happy and feels a little rushed as a result, but it's a great slice of old school popular entertainment that's a lot more engaging than Kevin Costner's pompous yawn-fest released the same year.
Indeed, sir. The last charge of Wyatt Earp and his immortals. Tombstone is written by Kevin Jarre and directed by its star Kurt Russell, with credited director George P. Cosmatos ghost-directing. It also features a large ensemble cast that includes Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn & Powers Boothe. The movie is loosely based on historic incidents occurring in 1881-1882. The plot follows newly retired peace officer Wyatt Earp (Russell) as he and his two brothers, Virgil (Elliott) & Morgan (Paxton), arrive in the Tuscon town of Tombstone. Here they plan to make their fortune and gain themselves a share in a farrow game at the local saloon. Wyatt's long time friend, Doc Holliday (Kilmer), also joins the Earp's in town and it's not long before they encounter trouble in the form of The Cowboys - a ruthless bunch of outlaws led by Curly Bill Brocious (Boothe). The back story to Tombstone is rather interesting, so without waffling on and boring the spurs off of any readers I'll try & keep this paragraph short! Willem Dafoe was slated to star as Doc Holliday but Buena Vista (Disney company) said no way on account of his appearance in the frowned upon The Last Temptation Of Christ. Since Buena Vista were the only company willing to distribute Tombstone, on account of Kevin Costner pulling rank and influence due to his own Wyatt Earp movie being on the go, they had the big say in things. Then when the screenplay was turned in by Jarre it was shot down by both Russell and the now on board Kilmer because it was deemed excessively too long. Jarre was then fired as director for refusing to cut down the characterisations. Enter Cosmatos to ghost-direct for Russell. Then Robert Mitchum (who narrates in the film) had to drop out of playing Old Man Clanton (subsequently dropped from the story) due to a riding accident. While genre legend Glenn Ford bailed out of playing Marshall White to pave the way for Harry Carey Junior to fill those boots. In spite of all the problems getting harmony and cohesion to the screen, Tombstone ends up being a thoroughly entertaining genre piece. A love letter to the genre and boasting one of the best ever portrayals of an (in)famous Western character (Kilmer's take on Holliday is sexy, dangerous and utterly beguiling). Comparing it to Costner's movie is folly, for that movie (and I'm a big fan of it) is a telling of Earp's life and doesn't Hollywoodise things, this is about a short period in Earp's life, with bells on. There's some inaccuracies, but in the main the makers do a good job of covering the events leading up to the famous gunfight that occurred at the O.K. Corall - and the aftermath of said confrontation. Pic manages to have its cake and to eat it for a modern age made Western. It does all in all what old fans of the genre expect whilst having enough savvy dialogue and rah rah sequences to engage the more youthful viewers. There's not much art to speak of (for instance you wont go searching out for the cinematographer's name) and the sheer volume of characters at times threatens to bulge the piece over the belt buckle. Yet it always manages to keep us entertained with a high energy action sequence or a sharp quip delivered by the irrepressible Kilmer. Even the standardised romantic angle involving the beautiful, but superfluous Dana Delaney as Josephine manages to have its engaging moments. Sure we ache for the next scene of Kilmer being cool or Biehn being a cocky bastard, but the love blossoming between Wyatt & Josephine, and the inner conflict that it causes Earp, really fleshes out where Earp was emotionally at a time when he was trying to settle down for peace in his world. Ultimately it's probably with the story of Kilmer & Russell insisting on a trimming of the story that Tombstone makes the most telling point. Critically it was recognised as being too bloated and that wasn't what was needed. For crying out loud the Western fan had had Eastwood's sublime Unforgiven the previous year, so who in their right mind would try and follow that? Tombstone thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously, but still it has enough nous to keep the beans cooking on high and the splendid moustache's a twirling. All that Whilst simultaneously providing some of the most quotable lines delivered in the most splendid of film genres. Kilmer's Doc is our Huckleberry, and so is Tombstone the film. 8/10