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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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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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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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on 4 October 2016
Kevin Costner creates slow-burning, sensitively detailed films using as broad a canvas as he feels is necessary - predominantly in order to deliver to the viewer an authentic window on how things really were. A longer film facilitates this deeper 'audience participation' and Costner has generally succeeded in delivering quality cinema that satisfies both the factual and artistic desires of a modern audience who need to be convinced while it's being unhurriedly entertained. This is often achieved because of the many subtleties of character and thought that Costner authentically reveals relating to the seriousness of the human tale he is telling. Violent times and themes often form an essential ingredient to his films - the superb Dances With Wolves and JFK both attest to this. But Costner invites the viewer into the private thoughts, desires and angst of his main characters and, in Wyatt Earp, this is exactly what you get - the paradox of sensitive human emotions walking hand in hand with a character who must remain tough enough to embrace the extreme ruthlessness that the age demanded. I feel it's near-futile to compare this film with 'Tombstone,' - a fine film indeed with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer serving up genuine wild west heroes who gripped the cinema audience with the charisma and power of their very direct natures and actions. Costner additionally lets the viewer understand the man inside the hero; strengths and flaws merging to produce human reality. So we can identify with Wyatt Earp, possibly even understand him a little. Dennis Quaid's beautiful southern drawl is stylishly convincing as he offers us the charismatic, TB-suffering ex-dental surgeon and fast gun Doc Holliday. In the end, it probably matters less which of those events surrounding the near-legendary OK Corral shootout are fact or fiction. What matters is what we believe while we're entertained as we are absorbed into this quite superb film. Certainly it was a time of lawless murder and mayhem, but Costner reminds us that the people struggling to survive then could still dream of better days to come. Recommended viewing.
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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
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
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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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 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 27 March 2016
Good film but tombstone was head and shoulders better . val kilmer as doc holliday is one of the best casting choices ever . still for the price costners version is a different take showing much of earps early life . 4 out of 5
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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 3 October 2005
theres no point in comparing this to Tombstone. they may be based on the same character and 1 specific incident but its like comparing a day to a millenium.
This movie charts the whole life of Wyeth Earp from start to finish to such an extend that Tombstone is just a footnote. The other difference is that this movie is accurate. Bpeople complain about Hollywood changing reality, well thats what happened in Tombstone. This isnt fiction.
Thats not too say that Tombstone isnt a good movie, it is. Its a great movie and Russel and Kilmer put in the performances of their lives but Costner equals Russel for the simple reason that he is portraying a different type of Earp. On the other side Quaid is put ot shame by Kilmer.
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on 4 April 2009
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