Tombstone

Tombstone ★★★★

This was one of those movies that my friends and I had on repeat. If i had to guess how many times I have watched it, it would easily be 30-50 times. That being said, I haven't really watched it in the last 20 years of so. During that time I have seen most of the movies that built the western genre sandbox that this film is playing in. So I was curious how it might hold up with all that time behind me.

I am glad to say that it exceeded my expectations. It isn't a perfect movie. Far from it in fact. But I saw a lot of art in the film that I don't remember from the days of my late teens, watching it in Matto's parents basement.

I did remember nearly every line. At least all the ones we used to quote ad nauseam. Not just the words, but the phrasing and tenor of the voices saying them.

One thing that struck me was that Tombstone, and the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place in 1881. I was born in 1976. Less than 100 years of American history had passed between the time Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday shot up some badguys, and the day I was born. If a baby had been born on the day of the gunfight, and grew up strong and healthy, this child would only be 91 on the day I was born. That is wild to me. America is such a young country. Side note, that baby would have also lived through the Spanish American war, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam. But more about the movie.

Technically Kurt Russell is the star and protagonist of the film. But we all know who owns this film, and that is Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday. It is one of my all time favorite performances. This time I caught a little quip that I had missed all those years ago. After watching the stage play of Faust, Doc mumbles to those in his box, "Quite instructional". Love it!

The cast is filled out with actors that I didn't fully appreciate when I was younger. Michael Rooker, Powers Booth, Stephen Lang, and Harry Carey Jr. just to name a few.

Michael Biehn plays Johnny Ringo, and he goes toe to toe with Kilmer. Both as characters, and as performers.

The movie does not do right by it's female characters. It goes out of the way to portray Wyatt's wife as an opium fiend, which might have been the case, but the movie only gives her that single characteristic. The other wives don't fair much better. Dana Delany is the love interest, and she too gets shut out. At least she has a full life of wants and desires, but really gets some of the most embarrassing dialogue to express it.

I thought this film looked really fantastic. Part of that might be me remembering watching it on VHS, on a 19" faded TV. But on my fancy new high def TV, streaming on high def, I thought the movie looked great. The 2nd unit must have been told to go wild, cause so many establishing shots look so much better than they have to.

There are rumors out there that Kurt Russell co-directed or eve directed this film instead of George P. Cosmatos. I have no way of verifying that. Kilmer says that it the case, Russell denies it.

The middle of the film drags a bit. The storytelling is a bit wonky too. I'm not sure everything plot wise works out in the mathematical sense, but emotionally everything checks out. For example, the "sheriff" is in cahoots with the cowboys, but to what extent is unclear and uneven.

Finally, the film is opened and closed with a narration from my guy, Robert Mitchum. Like I needed another reason to watch this about 50 more times.

I'm your huckleberry.

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