Tombstone is a good Val Kilmer movie stuck inside a bad movie featuring the rest of the cast. Whenever Val Kilmer appears, you find something to watch. The rest of the time, you might as well go do the dishes or something.

The film tells the story of how Wyatt Earp and his band of brothers cleaned up Tombstone and pretty much annihilated The Cowboys, a gang of outlaws who used to terrorize the town. It involves a good bit of gunplay and a lot of grim stares from people with big moustaches. As regards the plot, it involves Wyatt facing off against the Clantons and then a whole bunch of other outlaws for much of the movie’s running time. There have been a number of Wyatt Earp movies – My Darling Clementine, Wyatt Earp, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral… Or if you want something approximating fact, go read the Wikipedia entry.

Val Kilmer stands head and shoulders above the cast in the role of Doc Holliday. Doc is usually the most entertaining character in all the movie versions, so it’s no surprise that he steals the show here. What Kilmer creates is the sort of man whom Jack Higgins would write novels about.

The only other interesting thing I found was the characterization of Earp himself. This is a man who professes to have put away his gun. He says he doesn’t want to be a lawman again. But the first thing he does when he enters Tombstone is pick a fight with a lout who runs the card table at the local saloon. I was thinking, this is either a very conflicted man, or a very badly written character. It turns out to be the former, especially when Doc says to him towards the end: “There’s no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just life, and you get on with it.”

4 thoughts on “Tombstone

  1. In a way i think Tombstone is better than the other dud, Wyatt Earp, starring Costner and Gener Hackmann. But to date, i think the best version is Gunfight at OK Corall starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

  2. True, the Kevin Costner version was much worse. I haven’t seen either of the well-regarded old versions (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or My Darling Clementine), so can’t comment. Will see if I can get my hands on either of them.

  3. Hi Ramsu,
    I cannot encourage you too much to “get your hands” on My Darling Clementine: There, you’ll get Henry Fonda (Earp), Victor Mature (a spellbinding Doc Holliday) and, and: Linda Darnell as Chihuahua… need I say more?

  4. Sagarika says:

    And I second yves’ recommendation. I’ve not seen any of the serial Earp movies but my movie-mad dad had.

    I recall him particularly raving about “My Darling Clementine” and it could very well be ‘coz of Chihuahua, but dad also praised Mature’s Doc Holliday to the skies. I myself intend to check it out, now that you’ve unseated a long-lost memory of a conversation with a recently-lost dad…

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