Tombstone (film)

Tombstone (film)

Infobox Film
name = Tombstone

| director = George P. Cosmatos
Kurt Russell "(uncredited)"Beck, Henry Cabot. " [ The "Western" "Godfather"] ". "True West Magazine". October 2006.]
writer = Kevin Jarre
producer = Michael Sloan
James Jacks
starring = Kurt Russell
Val Kilmer
Sam Elliott
Bill Paxton
distributor = Hollywood Pictures
Cinergi Pictures
released = December 25 1993
runtime = 130 min.
country = United States
language = English
music = Bruce Broughton
awards =
budget = $25,000,000
imdb_id = 0108358

"Tombstone" is a 1993 Western movie written by Kevin Jarre and directed by its star Kurt Russell, with credited director George P. Cosmatos ghost-directing. The film, which boasts an ensemble cast with 85 speaking roles, involves Wyatt Earp and his brothers moving to Tombstone, Arizona where they and Doc Holliday face off against a band of criminals called the Cowboys. The movie is loosely based on historic incidents occurring in 1881-1882.


Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), a retired peace officer with quite a reputation, re-unites with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) in Tucson, Arizona, where they venture on towards Tombstone, a small but growing mining town, to settle down. There they encounter Wyatt's longtime friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), a southern gambler and shady character who seeks relief from his tuberculosis in Arizona's drier environment.

All is not perfect, however. Wyatt's wife, Mattie Blaylock (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), is slowly becoming dependent on laudanum (opium). Just as Wyatt and his brothers begin to benefit from a stake in a gambling emporium and saloon, they have their first encounter with the Cowboys, a band of ruthless outlaws. Led by "Curly Bill" Brocious (Powers Boothe), the gang's members are easy to identify by the red sashes worn around their waist. Conflict is narrowly avoided upon Wyatt's insistence that he is retired and no longer interested in pursuing a career in enforcing the law. This is also first face-to-face meeting for Doc Holliday and the psychopathic Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), widely known to be one of the fastest guns in the West. They take an immediate dislike to one another.

Also newly arrived in Tombstone with a traveling troupe of theatre performers are Josephine Marcus (Dana Delany) and her fellow thespian Mr. Fabian (Billy Zane).

Wyatt, no longer a lawman, is pressured to help rid the town of the Cowboys as tensions rise. Shooting aimlessly after a visit to a Chinese opium house, an intoxicated Curly Bill is approached by town Marshal Fred White (Harry Carey, Jr.) to relinquish his firearms before any harm is done. Curly Bill instead shoots the marshal and is forcibly taken into custody by Wyatt. The arrest infuriates Ike Clanton (Stephen Lang) and the other Cowboys, who threaten harm to Wyatt, his shotgun-toting brothers and Doc. Curly Bill stands trial, but is found not guilty and released.

The married Wyatt attempts to resist a strong attraction to Josephine, who unlike other ladies of her time is quite forward towards men. There is a spark between them that neither can deny.

Virgil Earp, unable to tolerate the lawlessness of Tombstone, becomes the new town marshal and imposes a weapons ban in the city limits. This leads to a legendary showdown, the battle at the O.K. Corral. Virgil and Morgan are wounded, three Cowboys are killed, and the allegiance of county sheriff John Behan (Jon Tenney) to the Cowboys is made clear at last. As retribution for the Cowboy deaths, including the death of Ike Clanton's younger brother Billy (Thomas Haden Church), Wyatt's brothers are ambushed: Morgan is killed, while Virgil's arm is maimed for life.

A despondent Wyatt and his family pack up to leave Tombstone and board a train. Followed by the Cowboys, Wyatt sees that his family leaves safely. But he surprises the assassins--Ike Clanton and Frank Stilwell--who had come to finish him off. Wyatt announces that he has become a U.S. Marshal and that he intends to kill any man he sees wearing a red sash. He lets Clanton return to send this message. Thus begins a vengeful stage in Wyatt's life when he, Doc, a reformed Cowboy named Sherman McMasters (Michael Rooker) and other friends Texas Jack Vermillion and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson join forces to administer frontier justice.

Wyatt and his posse are ambushed in a riverside forest by the Cowboys. Hopelessly surrounded, Wyatt strides unprotected into the river to seek out Curly Bill in single combat. Brocious obliges and a knee-deep water gunfight is over quickly with Curly Bill lying dead in the water. Johnny Ringo becomes the head of the Cowboys.

At one of their lower points, Doc's health is worsening and they depend on the accommodations of Henry Hooker (Charlton Heston). At Hooker's ranch, they reencounter Josephine, learning that Mr. Fabian was shot by Cowboys who tried to steal Josephine's watch. Wyatt finally realizes he wants to be with Josephine, but is unable to commit to her because of his ongoing fight against the Cowboys.

Ringo sends a message that he wants a showdown with Wyatt to end the hostilities and Wyatt is in agreement, though both Ringo and Wyatt know that Wyatt is hopelessly outmatched. Doc knows he is a better match for Johnny, but he is currently in no condition for a gunfight and apologizes to Wyatt.

Wyatt sets off for the showdown, not knowing that (a healthier than he appeared) Doc beats him to the scene. Doc confronts a surprised Ringo; Ringo becomes nervous and tells Doc that he doesn't want to fight him, but Doc says they are just finishing their "game" from a previous encounter--"to play for blood". Ringo's desire to kill gets the better of him and he accepts; both men stare each other down as they circle around. As both men lift their guns, Doc gets the first shot off, hitting Ringo in the head and killing him. Wyatt runs when he hears the gunshot only to encounter his believed-ailing friend on his feet and well. They then press on to finish the job of eliminating the Cowboys, though Clanton escapes their vengeance by throwing away his red sash.

Doc is later admitted to a sanatorium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. After a visit from Wyatt, Doc looks at his feet and the condition of the bed in which he is lying: realizing he is about to die with his boots off (as opposed to "dying with your boots on", i.e. in a gunfight), he passes away muttering "I'll be damned. Oh, this is funny". At Doc's urging, Wyatt pursues Josephine and the movie ends with an account of their long marriage together, as narrated by veteran actor Robert Mitchum.

Historical authenticity


*Wyatt Earp met Doc Holliday on a previous occasion through boxer John Shanssey, in Fort Griffin (not depicted in this film).

*Mattie Blaylock had been a prostitute when she and Wyatt Earp met. They never legally married, but he did allow her to use his last name (not depicted in this film).

*Wyatt Earp did have a reputation for "pistol whipping" men he would arrest, a technique that he defended as being extremely effective.

*Wyatt Earp was accused of having used excessive force while serving as a lawman in Dodge City.

*Wyatt and Josie mined for gold in Alaska toward the end of the 19th century.

*Virgil Earp did lose the use of his left arm and did tell his wife that "I still got one good arm to hold you with."

*The "Earp wives", or rather the wives of brothers Morgan, James and Virgil did not in fact care for Wyatt Earp, feeling he had too much sway over his brothers' decisions.

*Tombstone Marshal Fred White was in fact well liked by the outlaw "Cowboy" faction, and by his own testimony prior to his death, the shooting by Bill Brocius that caused his death was accidental. Brocius in fact showed remorse and regret over the shooting.


*Wyatt Earp was not a well known lawman until "after" the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

*Josie Marcus was not a well known actress, and in fact had been in Tombstone, Arizona for quite some time prior to Wyatt Earp's arrival, having lived previously with a lawyer, and with Sheriff Behan.

*Wyatt Earp was never the Marshal of Dodge City. He was Assistant Marshal and Deputy Marshal.

*Marshal Fred White was depicted as being an older man, but in fact was either 31 or 32 at the time of his death.

*The film portrays both the assassination attempt of Virgil Earp and the assassination of Morgan Earp happening on the same night.

*The film portrays Wyatt Earp looking to avoid a life in law after moving to Arizona, when in actuality he had run for a Sheriff position against Behan very early in his stint there.

*The day of the O.K. Corral shooting is portrayed as hot, when in reality it was cold and had snowed the day before.

*Wyatt's "Vendetta Ride" targeted only the men responsible for the death of Morgan and maiming of Virgil, not the entire Cowboy faction.


In 1989, Kurt Russell was given the script for "Tombstone". At the time Kevin Jarre and Kevin Costner were going to make the movie together but disagreed over the film's focus. Costner felt that the emphasis should be on Wyatt Earp and decided to make his own movie with Lawrence Kasdan. Russell signed on and made an agreement with producer Andrew Vajna to finance it with a budget of $25 million.

Originally, Jarre and Russell wanted to cast Willem Dafoe as Doc Holliday but Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group refused to distribute the film if he was cast, due to Dafoe's role in the controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ". As Costner was making a competing Wyatt Earp film, he used his then-considerable clout to convince most of the major studios to refuse to distribute "Tombstone" - Buena Vista was thus the only studio willing to distribute. Jarre and Russell went with their next choice, Val Kilmer.

Filming was plagued with several problems. Both Russell and Kilmer have said that the screenplay was too long (Russell estimated by 20 pages). According to Kilmer, "virtually every main character, every cowboy, for example, had a subplot and a story told, and none of them are left in the film." He has said that over 100 people, cast and crew, either quit or were fired over the course of the production. Russell even went so far as to cut down his scenes in order to let other actors have more screen time. Early in the production, screenwriter Jarre was fired as director due to his refusal to cut down the length of his screenplay. Sylvester Stallone recommended George P. Cosmatos to Kurt Russell based on the work he did on "". According to Russell, Cosmatos ghost directed the movie for Russell. Every night, Russell would give Cosmatos a shot list for the next day, and developed a "secret sign language" on set to exert influence.

Robert Mitchum was originally set to play Old Man Clanton, but suffered a horse riding accident which made him unable to play the part. Mitchum ultimately narrated the film, while the part was written out of the script. Much of Old Man Clanton's dialogue, however, was spoken by other characters, particularly Curly Bill, who was effectively made the gang leader in lieu of Clanton. Glenn Ford was also originally cast as Marshall White, while Harry Carey, Jr. was to play a Wagonmaster who helped Wyatt track down the Cowboys. Ford dropped out of the project and Carey was cast as White after the wagonmaster was written out of the script.


"Tombstone" is currently certified 89% "fresh" on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Val Kilmer was nominated for two MTV Movie Awards in 1994 for Best Male Performance and Most Desirable Male. "Tombstone" beat Costner and Kasdan's version, "Wyatt Earp", to theaters by six months. "Tombstone" earned $56 million domestically on a $25 million budget, [" [ Tombstone] ". Box Office Mojo.] while "Wyatt Earp" made only $25 million on a $63 million budget. [" [ Wyatt Earp] ". Box Office Mojo.]

Featured cast


External links

*imdb title|title=Tombstone|id=0108358
* [ A look at historical inaccuracies in "Tombstone", particularly as they apply to the game of faro]
* [ A general look at historical inaccuracies of "Tombstone"]

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