Tombstone (1993)
December 25, 2018 11:10 AM - Subscribe

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.
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm your huckleberry.
posted by Fizz at 12:04 PM on December 25, 2018 [11 favorites]

A religion professor I had in university was really into this movie and the story of Wyatt Earp as portrayed by Hollywood.

I like this movie. No one in this movie is miscast. The only flaw that really stands out for me is the last third/quarter of the movie, when Wyatt and Co. are on the Vendetta Ride. A lot of the shots of the group on horseback could have been trimmed. The highlights of the movie include Johnny and Doc face off in the saloon and the Power Walk with the burning building in the background.
posted by Fukiyama at 1:10 PM on December 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

You tell them I'm coming, and Hell's coming with me.
posted by Sphinx at 3:04 PM on December 25, 2018

Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego.
posted by Zonker at 4:44 PM on December 25, 2018

Compare/contrast with Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp, which likewise had an impressive cast (and, for my money, a better Doc Holliday in Dennis Quaid), but did much worse at the box office. Costner was originally going to be in this film, but didn't like the script.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:59 PM on December 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm sure the running time made a big difference at the box office, as Tombstone is a full hour shorter. The only thing that slows it down is the romantic subplot between Wyatt and Josephine, in my opinion. Whenever I watch this movie, I also feel sorry for Mattie... I doubt they had addiction treatment services in the wild west, and we're supposed to feel positively about Earp riding off with another lady.

A good thing about the romantic scenes is that they show Earp to be uncertain about his own desires and values. Josephine is like the future confronting him, and he doesn't know what to do. Whereas a lot of dull westerns have been made by establishing early on exactly what type of people the good and bad guys are, and then showing them go through the motions until the bad guy loses. (Here is an excellent documentary Rich Hall made for the BBC called How the West Was Lost, about the American myths behind the genre, and how they unraveled, and then the genre did. Language warning.)

Anyway, the casting was amazing. Even among the supporting cast, the film is full of people that don't seem to belong in a western doing their parts very well and familiar villains acting with the usual proficiency. There was a big kerfuffle involving the director; according to Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell basically directed the film.
posted by heatvision at 4:18 AM on December 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

Easily my favorite western. Might also be my favorite Kurt Russell performance, though that's much tougher to pin down.

There was a big kerfuffle involving the director; according to Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell basically directed the film.

Hhhuh! Maybe that explains why the "director," George P. Cosmatos, seemed not to have many substantive things to say in the director's commentary included with some DVD editions.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:14 AM on December 26, 2018

In a comparison between Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, Tombstone fares far better. Referring back to my professor, it is interesting to me that he talked about all the Earp movies made in the past except Wyatt Earp. Not a single mention.

The biggest flaw of that movie is not run time per se, it is Costner's acting. Kevin can do good work, but in that movie, he is just flat as a tire. The best single scene that shows this is where Wyatt is getting ready to leave after spending a night with Mattie. Mattie is stretched out in bed while Wyatt is putting money on the dresser. Mattie starts talking about how she doesn't want his money or if he has to leave it, it is because he wants to "take care" of her. And Wyatt is over at the door replying in a way that seems to me to be saying, "Yeah, okay, whatever, just let me get the hell out of here."

Kevin's Wyatt is well aware of how messed up Mattie is, but he still coasts along and allows the relationship to progress from john/hooker to sugar daddy/kept woman to common law husband/wife. AND THEN he dumps her for Josephine. Mare Winningham does a great job with Mattie in making her unlikable and needy and who becomes more annoying as she succumbs to laudanum addiction. All the while Kevin's Wyatt just strings her along until it is time to hook up with Josie. Ugh.

On the other hand, Tombstone has actors Kurt Russell as Wyatt, Dana Delaney as Josie, and Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Mattie. Kurt's Wyatt still leaves Mattie for Josie, but at least he gives staying with Mattie a try after Josie opens his eyes on what he could do with his life. Kurt's Wyatt is passive, but it's not due to Kurt; it is manifested more in his unwillingness to get involved in fighting the Cowboys. He fights his attraction to Josie until Mattie is out of town and he is on the run from the Cowboys.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:15 AM on December 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was at a party in Los Angeles and found myself standing next to a guy who said he's been in Tombstone. Said he had some friends who were making the film and he could be an extra if he wanted. "Can you juggle?" they asked.

"Sure!" he said, lying.

He tried to teach himself, but failed. On the day he showed up, he had to confess he didn't know how to juggle. No problem, said the director, possible Kurt Russell, we'll have someone shoot the pins out of your hands before you actually have to juggle.

Next time I saw the film, I looked for this scene, and, son of a gun, it was that guy, and it was exactly as he said.
posted by maxsparber at 10:17 AM on December 26, 2018 [14 favorites]

You're no daisy.
posted by Ber at 11:33 AM on December 26, 2018

Mustache City!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:13 PM on December 26, 2018

(Here is an excellent documentary Rich Hall made for the BBC called How the West Was Lost, about the American myths behind the genre, and how they unraveled, and then the genre did. Language warning.)

Huh. TIL that Rich Hall is more than just the Sniglets guy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:42 AM on December 27, 2018

He also had a recurring character as the guy who wandered into the White House back when he was on SNL that was quite funny.
posted by maxsparber at 9:47 AM on December 27, 2018

He reminds me of ... me.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:54 PM on December 27, 2018

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