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The Film depicts some of 'Wyatt's' early years including his marriage to
'Urilla Sutherland' who's premature death reduced 'Wyatt' to be a drunk
and thief.
We follow his ventures to that of a buffalo hunter, a lawman in 'Wichita'
where his reputation for a no-nonsense approach attracted an offer to become
a deputy in the out of control 'Dodge City' where he hooked up with prostitute
'Mattie' Sutherland' and where he caught sight of 'Josie Marcus' on stage.
He took his family to 'Tombstone' to find their fortune in the new town that
grew as a result of a 'Silver' find in the area, the year 1879.
From the outset the Mclaury's and 'Clanton's' were a thorn in the 'Earps' side,
a showdown between them almost Inevitable.
The film had it's fair share of critic's when released and almost certainly
failed to re-coup the film company's investment, however. me ? ...I rate the
film quite highly, it's another one of those movies I re-watch every now and
then.
The film attempts to show how 'Wyatt's reputation and actions made him the
legendary figure he became.
The portrayal of a short and bloody out-come to the famous Gunfight at the O.K
coral was probably nearer the truth than many previous films had portrayed.
Of course 'Western' fans will already have compared this to other 'Wyatt Earp'
movies down the years of which there have been many, the most notable in my view
being 'Kurt Russell's' --'Tombstone' (in which 'Val Kilmer's portrayal of 'Doc
Holliday' was brilliant) also worth watching the Burt Lancaster'/'Kirk Douglas'
film 'The Gunfight at the O.K Coral'
The film for me...tried to give a greater insight to the legend that was 'Wyatt
Earp'......certainly worth a watch.
Back in 2013 on a 12-day road trip in the U.S. I was taken to 'Tombstone' where
I saw the grave of the three victims of the O.K Coral gunfight in Boot-hill, and
spent several hours in the much-preserved town of 'Tombstone' even watching a
re-enactment of the famous fight.......the town was a lot smaller than I imagined
it to be....never-the-less well worth a visit....a part of the American old-west history.
'Tombstone' suffered three devastating fires during the 1880's but was on each
occasion restored which is why the small town is known as 'The Town Too Tough To
Die'
There are one or two additional features on-board :- 'It happened this way' ....
'Vintage TV special 'Wyatt Earp' walk with a legend'....'Theatrical Trailer' and
'Deleted Scenes'
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I've done extensive reading and research on Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and this era. With that as a start, let me continue.
The roles of Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp were well-cast and portrayed. The actors bore reasonable physical resemblance to the real men. Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday was superb; I thought his portrayal was more accurate than that of Val Kilmer in "Tombstone", his personality and his appearance.... although with friends, Doc Holliday was a pretty affable gentleman.
The story was a nice story, although there were significant problems with some of the historical accuracy. First, Morgan and Virgil were NOT shot on the same night... actually 3 months apart. Things like that bother me when seeing a supposedly historically accurate film. But what I considered the weakest part of this movie (and "Tombstone" as well) was the very incomplete and weak buildup to the gunfight. There was so much more that happened, so much that affected the relationship between the good guys and the bad, so much missing that both films almost made the fight look like a spur of the moment battle... which is far from factual. What many people don't realize is that Bat Masterson spent time in Tombstone during this era, although not directly involved in the "action"; also, Luke Short was a major ally of Wyatt's throughout this time.
I very much liked that Wyatt's young life was shown... his time as town constable, his marriage to Urilla Sutherland, her death and his resulting devastation, his pony stealing in Arkansas... all things that most folks never realized.
I would very much liked to have seen more of Wyatt's revenge ride and subsequent deaths and scattering of the Clanton gang. Also, the absence of any sequence involving the robbery of the Benson stage and the killing of Bud Philpot and Peter Roehrig is regrettable, as this was a major factor leading to the battle. Also, as a result of the stage robbery, we should have seen a sequence regarding Wyatt's agreement with Ike about turning in the robbers. Finally, how Behan backed out on his deal with Wyatt regarding the sheriff's office... a major factor in the animosity between the two men.
Yes... there are many other missing historical incidents that would have made the film more accurate and real.
Anyone who has an interest in this era should see the film. If you're not a stickler like I am for total historical accuracy, you should enjoy the film.
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Having won the battle of the Robin Hoods, Costner wasn't so lucky with Wyatt Earp: forget Waterworld, this was still one of the biggest box-office disasters of Costner's career, a $63m epic Western that struggled to make $25m at the US box-office yet somehow managed to avoid being nicknamed 'Kevin's Gate' (although it did earn Michael Madsen's unending animosity when the lengthy shoot prevented him from playing Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction). Originally intended as a mini-series and tracing the famed lawman's life from farm boy, freight driver, law student, drunk, horse thief, buffalo hunter to the aftermath of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, it's an ambitious attempt at an American epic with an increasingly unlikeable main character, but it's more of an occasionally ambitious failure than a genuine success.

Not nearly as much fun as the rival Tombstone, it's often at its best in the early scenes detailing the side of Earp that the movies previously overlooked as he goes from idealism to bitterness and misogyny following the death of his first wife. Taking its lead from Nicholas Earp's credo that family comes first and "Blood counts the most," Costner's determination not to play likable is admirable, but it casts a dour shadow over a film with increasingly little lightness or humour to break up its bleak view of an embittered man whose only real talent is for violence and make it more palatable. America tends to like its heroes cut and dried, but Costner's Earp is not so much flawed as downright unsympathetic at times - more of a 70s anti-hero than one who would find favour in the 90s, leaving a cruelly overlooked at Oscar time Dennis Quaid (stunningly good) as Doc Holliday to carry the audience sympathy.

Once the film enters more familiar territory with Earp's years as a lawman, the flaws start to become more significant. Even in the extended laser disc directors cut many of the huge supporting cast tend to get lost and forgotten and at times it feels like its treading water, never really going into much detail about the reasons for the feud between the Earps and the Clantons and the McLaurys, while the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral itself is badly staged - even the 'walk thing' makes Wyatt, Doc and the brothers just look like a bunch of angry Mennonites - and the film loses momentum afterwards, which is surprising considering the aftermath is in many ways far more interesting than the gunfight itself. On a visual level, Kasdan's direction is somewhat disappointing: despite having huge resources at his disposal, there's a striking lack of long shots to take advantage of them that becomes much more noticeable on the small screen than the big, while despite the length there are increasingly few memorable or significant scenes en route to the contentious epilogue. One of the most misconceived endings of the 90s (at least until Costner's The Postman came along), a clumsy flashback-led variation on 'Print the legend' that seems to be arguing that the legend is indeed true, it does the film no favours and probably did much to leave audiences unimpressed.

It's a shame, because for all its faults there's much in the film to admire, from some fine supporting performances among the huge cast - the aforementioned Quaid, horribly gaunt and convincingly tubercular, Gene Hackman, Bill Pullman, Michael Madsen, Tom Sizemore, Annabeth Gish - and a superb score from James Newton Howard. Perhaps for once a little less ambition and a little more light rather than constant shade would have yielded a more successful result.

The film is annoyingly spread over two sides of a single DVD disc, although boasts a good 2.35:1 widescreen transfer. Along with the full theatrical trailer (but not the teaser, which included somedeleted scenes) it also includes the deleted scenes from the Director's Cut as well as two featurettes on the making of the film culled from interviews shot at the time.
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on 20 October 2002
I read recently that Kevin Costner doesn't like the usual (what he regards as short ) running time of movies. Since the ground breaking Dances With Wolves he has tended to extend running time enabling his movies to get to grips with a true narrative style, where he takes the audience deep into the world of the central character and allows us the privilege of "living the life" of the character along with them. This has the effect of giving the movie a more "natural" feel, allowing the audience to
identify with the character at quite a deeper level than is usual with movies of 90 minutes or so in length. This approach has worked particulary well with this movie, and (without spoiling the plot for new viewers), it is fair to say that because of life events Earp matured into both a complex and serious character.
One of the enduring qualities of this movie is that Costner doesn't play Earp as the consummate hero of the Wild West. He is a human being with all the failings and insecurities of those around him and is not portrayed as an unbeatable gunslinger. All credit to Costner, the director, the producers and everyone involved for taking this approach.
What does set Earp apart however, according to the narrative here, is his strength of character. The question we have to ask ast the end of the movie is was that strength of character ultimately beneficial or detrimental to Earp and the members of his family?
So all in all a thought provoking movie on one of the greatest legends of the Old West, and one that has prompted me to want to read further about the enigmatic Earp. A special mention must also go to Dennis Quaid for his excellent portrayal of Doc Holliday.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 November 2015
After seeing John Ford's "My Darling Clementine" (1947), I decided to see the three following "OK Corral" movies in chronological order. The next two were "Gunfight at the OK Corral" (1957, with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) and "Tombstone" (1993, with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer), with "Wyatt Earp" coming a year later, in 1994. I'm sorry to say that at 3+hours "Wyatt Earp" is the least satisfying of the four. It's ponderous, a bit disjointed, and, finally, repetitive, for all the decent cast and the nice photography. The whole second half of the movie, it seems, is just a matter of the Earp brothers moving from place to place, ending up as lawmen wherever thy go, while their wives constantly object to the upheavals. There are gunfights in different locales, but we never get much sense of the people that the Earps are fighting (the Clantons et. al.) as characters, and in fact, with the exception of Wyatt, we don't get very strong senses of the Earp brothers either. They seem pretty much interchangeable after a while. The fault in these cases of underdeveloped characterization has to lie with the writers. They don't do much with Wyatt's love Josie Marcus either -- in "Tombstone," Dana Delaney was a much more vivid presence than Joanna Goings. In fact, the memorable characters here are those we see least of -- Isabella Rossellini as Big Nose Kate, Bill Pullman as Ed Masterson, Mark Harmon as Sheriff Behan -- and that's partly because we get to know Wyatt relatively early -- after his recovery from his wife's death, he doesn't change much at all and he isn't all that interestingly characterized to begin with.

There is Dennis Quaid as Doc Holliday to give the movie a lift. Doc is fatally consumptive and has no illusions about his future. It's not altogether clear why he befriends Wyatt, but he sticks by him to the end. Quaid's Doc is a kind of blend of Val Kilmer's dandyism and Kirk Douglas's volatility and fatalism, and he makes it work. He's less outlandishly effete than Kilmer, but he is given a curious formality of speech that marks him. In all four movies, the Holliday figure is strongly cast, and in the last two perhaps steals the show -- as, I think, Victor Mature did in "My Darling Clementine." I have to say that I didn't like the focus on Wyatt's early years -- that part of the movie seems to exist only to let Gene Hackman, as the Earp brothers' father, make rather stilted speeches that are, in effect, thematic markers -- he talks about "blood" (i. e. family) and "the law" as being all-important, and he declares that the Earps are temperamentally itinerant. And, of course, that's what the movie delivers on, rather predictably. I'm not sure we needed Gene Hackman to spell all that out for us: just tell the story and SHOW us the Earps in action! We, the audience, will get the point.

What about Wyatt's character? I wondered, on reflection, if Kasdan, the director, and Costner didn't model him to some extent on John Wayne's obsessives in "The Searchers" and "Red River". He's single minded and stubborn -- but we don't need the better part of three hours to see that, especially when the dialogue isn't all that strong. While on the trail of influences, I came to wonder if the ending might recall the ending of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," for the question arrives, for Earp, later in life, if he really did all the things attributed to him. Viewers can decide that one for themselves.
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on 13 August 2013
I am not a Tombstone expert, but I have visited several times, talked to residents and have read several excellent books on the subject, including one called, "...and Die in the West," by Paula Mitchell Marks." This book is an excellent accounting of the Earp era. Paula actually researched her subject and ready the accounts of the day, including the Tombstone Epitaph and the court records of the trials mentioned.

The movie accurately portrays several events I have read about in my personal research, and therefore believe to be true. The movie even includes actual dialog from the day. While it is still a movie, and is not a 100% truthful/accurate portrayal, it is pretty close to portraying the actual events of the day, much more so that the other movie of the period, Wyatt Earp, starring Val Kilmer (still a good movie.) But for truthfulness and accuracy, This is a very good movie, definitely worth watching if you want to know how it "really" was.
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on 4 February 2013
I liked Tombstone but I loved this film. It just seems more authentic, the story telling is more intelligent and the scope of the movie more satisfying.

You need to allow the film to bring you in, short fast thrills are not what this film is about. By the end you will be hooked.

Great cast who work well with the material, a gritty realistic approach which cuts no corners.

For me highly recommended.
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on 6 June 2016
Oh dear, what a shame.
The film for me is too long, too sentimental and long winded.
I found myself jumping ahead a minute or so at a time on several occasions and probably skipping 30 minutes of sentimental garbage.
Kevin Costner deserves better, Gene Hackman is wasted and Dennis Quaid does a lot for a sick man.
But I watched most of it because the story is fascinating.
Goodness knows what the real Wyatt Earp would have made of it.
It's only just OK for me.
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on 16 March 2014
I also love Tombstone which has the greatest opening of any movie, my favourite opening used to be Ben Hur. I like this movie a lot, had it on laserdisc , then DVD and now blu ray. My only disapointment was I was hopeing they would add the additional scenes as they included them in an expensive laserdisc additon which I could not afford at the time, it was over a hundred pounds! Enough has been said about by others, some of us love it, others find it too long, I don't, wish it was longer. I know the additional scenes are included in the extras, but in a smaller ratio. I'm just disapointed that they eere not added to the movie.
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This is a long film surrounding the life of Wyatt Earp, his brothers, chums and enemies. Earp comes over as the sort of chap one would not want joining your picnic party but would be admirable at dealing with those noisy students at Number 24. Played by "Laughing Kevin" Costner he is taciturn and adamantine. But behind this tale the director paints the story of the West: buffalo-skinning,railway building, gold rushes. This gives an epic quality to the first half of the film before it closes in on the feud between the Earps and the Clantons. I enjoyed it but you may lose the will to live.
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